Own Your Story
Hi. My name is Kristen Lauren (Rogers) Pope. (waves hi!) I was Hoosier born and raised in the midwest suburbs. I graduated from high school in the North Atlanta suburbs after my Dad’s job transferred my family from Illinois to Georgia. At 16, this move seemed like life was coming to an end. I’m grateful, I was wrong. After graduation, I attended Hampton University for college in Hampton Virginia. I started as a Marketing major. Let’s just say I that wasn’t my thing. When I didn’t excel in that field, I took a summer to do some deep soul searching and landed on Broadcast Journalism.
I journaled all my life, so I naturally had a love for writing. I loved to ask great questions, (be nosy) have great conversation and get the background story. I also loved current events. Broadcast Journalism seemed like the perfect fit, and based on my grades it was.
After I graduated from Hampton with a BA in Broadcast Journalism I moved to New York City with big hopes of landing an on-air gig.
My move to New York City wasn’t the first and wouldn’t be the last of naive decisions. See, New York City is the biggest, and most competitive news market in the world. It’s not typically the place a novice reporter lands their first on-air job. Usually the path requires going to a small market in a small town first and and then working your way up to New York. Somehow I bypassed all of that.
My first job out of college was writing Starwood Hotel’s online magazine. I was so excited to take the job, because it got me a foot in the door to NYC. At least I was in the apple. Over the next few years, after that job ended, I was an HR manager for a Ralph Lauren store, Investor Relations Communications Associate for a Private Equity firm, night time bartender and a few other out-of-the box roles. I did what many newcomers in the city of dreams do, I did what I could to survive. In all respects I was making my curvy way through NYC.
When I wasn’t working a 9 to 5, I was freelance reporting or hosting on the side. I knew that if I ever wanted to arrive on air, I needed a reel. A portfolio to showcase I could do the work. I hustled.
Fast forward to 2012, and after years of freelance reporting and hosting red carpets and events, I landed my first full time job on-air reporting! But, the job wasn’t in New York. It was in Texas. A smaaallll market city station in Abilene, Texas: KTXS Television. The place that may have been my likely first stop.
Do I have an regrets of not going there first?
No. Nope. Not one.
The only place I wanted to live after graduation was New York City. Harlem specifically and I did. And while I was there, I maximized every bit of my time, and had some experiences that changed my life. Experiences that may not have happened anywhere else. I got to interview celebrities, civil rights leaders and sit in on a Kanye West’s recording session of his Graduation album. It’s also where I started my organization for young women, “The King’s Daughters.” And saving the best for last, it’s where I met my husband. Yep, I got a lifetime boo! Priceless experiences. Did it take a longer than I wanted to reach my ultimate goal as an on-air reporter?
Yes. But the lessons surrounding my journey there were also priceless.
Today, five years after landing my first on-air job, I’m a reporter in my third market, creator and Executive Producer of my own show (The Positive Controversy), pursing stand-up comedy, training the next generation of storytellers, and sharing my story(ies) with audiences across the U.S.
This is just ONE of my stories. Albeit the abridged version.
This post is all about owning your story, and sharing it. To own your story, first, you have to know what it is. Accept it and see the value in it.
I’ll be honest, owning my story was a challenge for me. At first, I didn’t want to be judged for my decisions or the outcomes of my decisions. In order to tell our stories, we have to shake, shake, shake that off and realize our journey is bigger than us. At the end of my story (and it’s not finished being written) is a testimony to inspire someone else or help someone learn from my mistakes.
I also had to accept the fact, that I have more than one story. My journey into journalism is just ONE of my stories. (Stay tuned. More is coming!)
You may not feel like you several stories to tell at this time, but we all have at least ONE story to tell. A story that involves us overcoming, surviving, have a life changing revelation–a testimony that gives life to theory.
When you own your story, you become powerful. No one can make you feel less than you are or define your path. You’re able to stand firm in your identity and your decisions. Owning your story gives you authority and expertise in your area of experience. It’s makes you the go-to person. Someone may have gone through a similar situation, but not exactly the way you did. Your story MATTERS.
What happened in your life didn’t just happen TO you. It happened FOR you. It happened for you to learn the lesson and pass it on to someone else. It happened so that you could inspire and help someone else overcome the bumps in their journey.
Owning and sharing my story in journalism, has helped steer college students in the right direction. It’s helped transitioning journalists not give up and keep going. It’s helped me make wiser decisions in my career.
You don’t have to search for a platform when you own your story. You already have one to stand on and share. If you went through it, it’s likely someone else did or will and can benefit from your experience.
This year, I challenge you. OWN YOUR STORY or STORIES. Write them out. Rehearse them. Get used to sharing them. Stand in the authority and expertise you have from the experience you’ve acquired.
Get ready to help someone overcome!