I grew up as the daughter of a journalist.

That meant whenever my dad went out on an assignment — one that didn’t come along past my bedtime, anyway — I was usually allowed to tag along. I loved riding in the front seat of the big white news van and watching Dad at work. That kind of childhood lent itself to adventure.

“Hey,” he’d say, “How do you feel about going to the fair?”

And we’d go to the fair. While Dad filmed interviews, I was allowed to wander around, eating cotton candy and feeling content with my afternoon’s adventure. I never got tired of my life as my Dad’s sidekick, but as the years passed, I noticed that the excitement seemed to be wearing off for him. I didn’t know then about the often-unpredictable hours and constant deadline pressure, I only saw the cool bits: getting to skip lines, meeting important people and going places other, non-media people couldn’t. A young journalist myself, now I see the stress of the job and understand his disenchantment. Yes, the long hours and strain wear on you, but at least in my case, I put up with them because journalism is my great life’s passion.

It wasn’t my dad’s. Dad’s great passion was football, and one year while I was in elementary school, he switched from being a journalist to being a high school football coach.

I took it personally. I didn’t realize it was the job he was rejecting and not me — not our close, loving relationship, which I saw as inescapably bound to our afternoons in the news van. All of a sudden, he was spending long hours (away from me!) at practices or watching game footage with his football boys, who I viewed as usurpers to my father’s affection.

I still hero-worshipped him, as little girls do, but we began to drift apart. I stopped visiting my Dad at work. I got mad when he talked about his job. I didn’t want to meet his football boys. Our lives continued to diverge as I embarked on my own career as a journalist.

It took me a few years of working in this industry and growing up to understand how childish my behavior was. Looking back, I’m ashamed at my lack of maturity in reacting to his job change. I punished Dad when I should have encouraged him.

When I should have learned from him.

And so, as school starts again, and with it, football season, I think about my dad and how he was brave enough to leave an industry in which he was established to leap blindly into something new, even as an older man. I hope that if the time comes and I need to make a change to pursue my great passion, I’ll have the same kind of courage he did.

My point is this: when you’re young and looking for your career, gravitate toward your passion. Don’t let fear hold you back. And if you choose incorrectly at first, don’t be afraid to start over.

It’s a little something my dad taught me.

By Caroline Brewton

Columnist for the Record