I was pouring my heart out in the cafeteria of ABC News.
What am I going to do after this internship? What if I don’t find the right job? Do I have what it takes to achieve my dreams?
Sitting across from me was Jamie Zimmerman.
Jamie was a doctor and medical reporter at ABC. But that barely defines her. She was also an aspiring life coach, a meditation guru and a compassionate, caring friend to every person with whom she came into contact — from big-time ABC World News reporter Bob Woodruff to a young intern like me.
I witnessed Jamie singlehandedly change the tone of our newsroom during my seven-month internship at ABC. She was on her way to changing the world until she suddenly passed away on Oct. 12 when she slipped on some rocks on a mountain in Hawaii and was swept out to sea.
When I started at ABC, Jamie just so happened to start a meditation session with the medical unit, just three days a week. It soon became every day. By the end of my internship, people all across ABC — from veteran cameramen to reporters and anchors — fled to Jamie’s session to try to get a seat. She ended up holding a second daily session in another part of ABC’s building because it was so popular.
She lived by this quote: “Between stimulus and response, there is a space. In that space is our power to choose that response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom.”
What many don’t know is Jamie’s father died before she was able to meet him. As a teen, she set out to find her dad but found out he was struggling with personal issues that led to his death.
She took that tragedy and used it as motivation to change the world. Jamie dedicated her life to teaching mindfulness and spreading positivity. She believed that if her dad would have found that space between feeling and responding, maybe his life would have turned out differently.
And boy, was she succeeding.
Jamie’s career was skyrocketing. She was writing a book, giving talks and presentations across the country — including a TED talk. She was a contributing writer for Huffington Post, Yoga Journal and Sonima and working on her own online show for ABC News called “Make Your Passion Your Paycheck.”
If there’s one thing she taught me, it’s that we’re all on earth for a reason. Life is about finding your purpose and making an impact — no matter what challenges you face along the way.
As successful as Jamie had become by the young age of 31, it wasn’t what she accomplished that we’re all left struck by. It was how she treated us all.
If we can take Jamie’s death the way she took her father’s, and try to be better people because of her, then maybe her premature death won’t go in vain. Maybe she’ll have accomplished exactly what she set out to do in the first place.
As I sat in that cafeteria, complaining to Jamie about the challenges I was facing in becoming a journalist, her crystal blue eyes remained focused on mine. She listened intently. She gave me advice I’ll never forget.
“You know exactly what you’re supposed to do,” she said. “Stop being scared, and go do it.”