Road Blocks

The best thing that happened to me was hitting road blocks and being forced to make the most of what I had. Don't get me wrong, I've always stayed hungry, even when I felt defeated but I was so caught up in what I could do next, looking up the ladder, that I didn't enjoy the moment.

This hit me at a local start-up station, NH1 News. I went from working on regional sports and national network shows, to a station no one (even locals) had heard of.

In 2015, I wasn't getting many offers for jobs, my contract ended at a place that I thought was my dream job. It turns out- I was miserable, overwhelmed, and going through the motions. I couldn't understand why I was so unhappy. I traveled the world on charters, I covered my (then) favorite sport, but I feared going to work. It felt like the work I was putting in was for nothing, I felt like it wasn't enough. I didn't have the experience or comparison that I do now but I now realize how much the environment played a role. But the most important factor was in my control. I was not able to or willing to decide my own happiness. I let other people and frustrations control my sanity. How toxic. I cared about the wrong things and learned hard lessons.

I took a job at a sandwich shop after hockey season finished. The summer of 2015 was spent refilling sweet tea and prepping desert orders. For someone who naturally craves control, I surprised myself when I was enjoying taking drive-thru orders. People in Raleigh, NC recognized me from TV and asked what I was doing in an apron. But for the first time ever, I was happy.

I found an amazing church and this career speed bump forced me to pause and reflect on the rat race of life, and what matters.

I shocked my parents by taking a job in my home state, at that small station without a satellite truck (which is unheard of.) I convinced myself this was the best move for me because I could cover the 2016 presidential election in the place I grew up meeting these candidates, and slap on some sports coverage with a side of hard news and investigative stories. I was grateful, and grew happier. I got to spend the weekends with my family, reconnect with friends from the past and loved being able to impact my community through what I know I'm good at-storytelling. Those things outnumbered the drawbacks of going back to limited resources, insane hours, and the enhanced chaos of local news. After a handful of months I became a news anchor for the first time. Although I was reminded by other people "I'd get back on my feet again and back to network television," I assured people this was exactly where I was supposed to be. I truly believed that. I got to cover a heated election, research and expose a cancer cluster affecting my neighbors, drive change and conversation about the opioids epidemic and host a prom dress drive for underprivileged girls.

I remember sitting at the anchor desk with Charlie Sherman, a personality a i grew up watching. Some people would be anxious for the next gig but I used the opportunity to pick his brain and absorb how special it was to be in that chair.

I also got to cover a new sport- the NFL. I felt like a fish out of water, since it was a new role for me but I've got to thank the people who helped me along. I remember standing on the field as the Patriots' guns went off and players came flying through the tunnel into a field of a movie scene of crowd noise, music and an environment that will force a smile. I took a deep breath, looked around at where I was and said a "thank you" prayer.

A few months later I took a job at Golf Channel, covering another sport that was foreign me...with a "thank you" list that got longer.

Denis OSullivan