When I quit my job in April 2017 to be a journalist in Lebanon, I had NO idea what I was doing.
All I knew was: I loved writing; I loved Lebanon; and the Syrian refugee crisis was happening there. That’s it.
People asked, “Who will buy your articles? Will this help your career?”
I didn’t know.
My family tried stopping me -- saying it was dangerous. I didn’t care. It’s not that I was brave -- I was terrified!
But I had a gut feeling.
I had fallen into a routine that didn’t excite me and knew I needed to leave. I never would’ve imagined it’d lead me to the biggest story of my career: an exposé on the rise of suicide among Syrian child brides.
But finding and writing the piece wasn’t easy. In fact, it was the hardest experience of my life.
First, locals tried stopping me -- saying girls’ husbands would come after me. I ignored them and spent months traveling across Lebanon, looking for child brides. Most turned me away. Translators started quitting on me.
I was drowning in stress: was I an idiot to leave my job? Is this trip a waste? My gut told me to keep trying.
So I went to more refugee camps. And guess what? Girls started opening up. Actually, pouring their hearts out -- detailing their suicide attempts, rapes, beatings.
I was stunned. Forget the story -- I was moved. I cried during interviews, hugged my sources and realized how LUCKY I was to have such “stressful” problems.
I returned to America DETERMINED to tell their stories. I wrote the piece & pitched it to 33 news outlets. Everyone said no.
I was CRUSHED. Just before giving up, I emailed The Times of Israel -- which is controversial because Lebanon & Israel are enemies. They said yes.
Another hurdle: Do I publish with an Israeli outlet, or play it safe?
I followed my gut. And I’m glad I did. It was the headline story on Aug. 1 and has gotten more than 2,100 shares.
I’m not writing this so you’ll say, “great job!” I’m writing this because I know you have gut feelings, too. Sometimes they don’t align with what society wants. Sometimes they’re outside your comfort zone. But they always lead to where you’re supposed to be.