A few months ago, a classmate from high school sent me the following text message:
“Do you still want to be a journalist?”
At the time, I wasn’t sure what to think of the question. A lot of different things were running through my mind. Here are the main thoughts:
1) “Well this is weird…I haven’t talked to you in over a year”
2) “Of course I want to be a journalist!”
Even though there were times where doubts plagued my mind, in the end, being a journalist was something I wanted to achieve. I thought she would be satisfied with my answer. But she kept inquiring further, asking for reasons. Asking questions like, “but is that really what you could see yourself doing for the rest of you life?”
And that is when I really had to think.
Her questioning prompted a series of thoughts about the career decisions I had made up until that point.
When I think back to my childhood, I remember loving to write. There was something so magically in my mind about being able to create a storyline and a different world through the art of writing. It made me feel confident and mature; I felt like the decisions I made in writing gave me a certain sense of responsibility.
In third grade, I took the most intense grammar course of my life. And no, I’m not kidding. Third grade grammar was where I first learned to (love) diagraming sentences, understood the different parts of speech, and began to realize the importance of word choice and sentence structure.
Grade school was also the time that I joined my first newspaper. Sure, it was a Catholic school paper that was written maybe 2 times a semester and didn’t even include quotes. But it was my first taste of deadlines and accountability in my writing.
When I entered high school, I didn’t think that continuing on with writing was something I wanted to do. Despite being enrolled in honors English courses, I had made the decision to sweep my writing skills under the rug in hopes of becoming an actress.
My junior year was when everything changed. After reading the school newspaper at the end of my sophomore year, I remember thinking that I could write better than the current staff members. And while this might seem like a pretty over-confident revelation, I didn’t have any selfish motives; rather, I saw it as an opportunity to change the paper for the better.
So I joined the staff and wrote a few articles–including one about the awful silly bandz trend (don’t get me started).
I was a master at meeting the deadlines and having very few things to edit. My dedication brought me two prestigious positions my senior year: copy editor and production manager.
It was during my time working as these positions when I realized that despite my love of writing, it was the editing that I loved and excelled at. I had more say on the layout and content of every issue. I was able to help our writers improve articles they wrote to their fullest potential.
It was during this time that I had the opportunity of attending an editorial board meeting for the Chicago Tribune. If I had any doubts of whether I wanted to be a journalist, it was this moment that washed them away. Seeing the classy and sophisticated work environment present at the Tribune offices inspired me to keep moving forward. But it was a pure passion and happiness in each staff member that persuaded me to never give up.
That’s why I made the decision to attend the University of Missouri’s School of Journalism. I knew that attending MU’s j-school would provide me the very best skills to move forward with my passion. And while the school personally refrains from referring to it as such, there’s not a day that goes by where I don’t consider the j-school as the Harvard of journalism schools. The opportunities provided to me at the j-school are offered at no other institution in the world. I’m incredibly lucky to be able to study Magazine Editing through the Missouri method.
While there are days that I want to give up because I was told my writing is “too creative,” I edit “too well,” or purely because I’m selfish in thinking that “I don’t need to know how to edit 3 hours of video footage because I’m a text editing major,” I keep going.
I tell myself to not become over-confident or even to think too little of myself. I remind myself of who I am, the dreams I have, and the person I want to be. I keep in mind that I’ve chosen journalism as a career path because I want to leave a legacy. Not a legacy that I was “great,” “special,” “rich,” or “the most amazing person ever.” I want to leave a legacy in terms of personally knowing my work made the world a better place, even if that means my writing or editing only affects one person. In the end, I’ve still done my job and I still love being a journalist.