The Privilege of Time

Wednesday, April 13, 2022 / 10:07 PM

When we launched José's show in 2014, I recall a meeting early on where he was adamant about his sign off: "Thank you for the privilege of your time."

"Why are you thanking them?" I asked. Isn't he just doing his job? Shouldn't the viewers be thanking him?

He shook his head. "But without them, I wouldn't have a job and an opportunity to bring them the stories that deserve to be told."

That conversation is one of those moments that sticks out in my mind as a significant lesson I've learned in my career: that no one person can exist in a vacuum, even if you find yourself in a position of authority where you get to call the shots. Without the people around you, you cannot succeed. If you keep that in mind, then you will always be the kind of person who leads with empathy.

I’ve carried that conversation with me, no matter where I’ve gone. Recently, the content of my character came into question, and as a result it’s caused me to think a lot about the kind of person I am — the kind of person others know me to be, and the kind of person I know I pride myself on being. 

“You’re harder on yourself than any other person I’ve ever known,” someone said to me the other day. “It’s how I know you’re self aware, almost to a fault.”

I know how hard I am on myself. I've always been that way. I had an ex once who told me he thought I was too ambitious and that I needed to "be realistic." At the time, I believed him (I was young); in the immediate aftermath, I was angry. I wanted him to apologize, to regret it, to admit he was wrong. 

But what I really needed was time: time away from the situation long enough to know I didn't need anything from him, or from others who looked over or past me as somebody who deserved to have a voice.

What I needed was to stop shrinking myself to fit into other people's boxes of who they thought I should be. And at the end of the day, despite all of my flaws, I know there’s one thing about my character I am confident in: that I will never apologize for speaking up for myself or for championing, supporting, and defending the voices of those who may not find themselves in the position to speak up. 

This self-reflection is one that has also been made possible because of time. Over the last decade, I've had the opportunity to do all of those things, to be that person, and to build the kind of reputation that I — and the people who really know my character — know cannot crumble with a single setback.

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