Above all else, this week has been illuminating to me as to what working in journalism is like. For the past couple years, I’ve felt lost. I’ve been focusing so much on getting prerequisites done for my majors that I ended up just going through the motions. I love what I do, but I had this lurking sense of doubt in the back of my mind that music performance or research wasn’t the path I really wanted to take.

In the past year, I’ve also learned about audio editing and started my own podcast. Most of it was self-taught, which is wonderful but leaves plenty of room for bad habits and self-doubt to fester. Through it all, I loved what I did. My technical skills soared, and learning to host a podcast became natural to me. But the thought of writing a story, of drafting a script, of even taking the chance to reach out to people for an interview, still terrified me.

I didn’t think I’d get into NextGen. I learned over half the skills in the week I worked on the application. I thought to myself, “If I just do this application, I would have already gotten so much out of the experience.” It felt surreal to me that I made it through. It still feels surreal now.

This past week, I pitched my first story ever and conducted my first interview that wasn’t just a class project. Of course, during the process, the self-doubt threatened to take over. I was afraid to put my ideas onto paper. I thought my writing skills were lacking. I felt I couldn’t dig into the interview. It felt like this story was coming together and I was just going along for the ride.

That changed sometime on Wednesday as we put the script together and layed out the audio. Slowly, I realized I’m allowed to workshop ideas and try things out and make mistakes. I felt myself taking more risks even as deadlines loomed and I felt unable to form coherent thoughts. Through it all, I persevered. With the support of many wonderful people, especially my mentor, I created something I’m really proud of. There’s still a lot more for me to learn and more for me to practice, but for the first time in years, I feel passionate about my work, and I feel ready for what comes next.