If I could hop into the Tardis that's so obsessed my household lately and travel back in time to meet up with myself 15 years ago, I'd give her three words of advice: Enjoy it more.
I've been fortunate enough to know many wonderful, talented, straight-up nice people in this business of sports writing. I've been amazed and humbled - increasingly so as the years progress - by their generosity and humility and kindness.
Unfortunately, I've also absorbed a fair amount of cynicism, of world-weary oh-not-this-again-ness, the adoption of an attitude of the hacked-off hack. Maybe it's some inner desire among all sportswriters to be Oscar Madison. Maybe it's a testosterone-fueled belief that taking joy in your work is for sissies. I don't know. I just know that I intuited early on that we weren't really supposed to think what we did was awesome, or we certainly weren't supposed to act like we did.
I suppose when you're 22 and interviewing Monica Seles or Greg Norman, as I was lucky enough to do fresh out of college at the Hilton Head Island Packet, it can be easy to think it's always going to be like this. And even if the people you're interviewing 15 years later aren't quite so famous, it's easy to think you'll always be able to do this, to make a living telling people's stories.
Well, self, it's not, and you won't. One day all the shit you took for granted like the self-centered myopic dolt that you were will be gone, and you'll wish you had told all those cool-at-the-time old boys bitching and moaning about assignments you'd gladly take now to stuff it. You'll wish you hadn't taken on their miasma of misery because it seemed the thing to do, because you weren't sure enough yet in your own personality to express it out loud.
You'll wish you had discovered sooner that jaded isn't cute.
So today I got to talk to famous people again, and I enjoyed it. I had fun. I took pictures - even though part of me felt odd doing it. But then another part of me told that part to stuff it, that I'm nearly 40 years old and unlikely to see Serena Williams on a tennis court backlit by floodlights and storm clouds again.
I'm not suggesting that any young enterprising sports reporters start asking for players' autographs or posing for selfies with them at the media tent microphone.
But I am saying you should give yourself permission to enjoy what you do, to think it's a pretty cool way to make it a living.
Because it is. And it'd be better if you could recognize that before it's gone.