Fandino: From too nervous to an aspiring journalist

"I remember during my first interview, my hands were shaking, my voice was cracking, and all I could think about was 'What’s my next question going to be?'" - Graphic / Yaz Shaughnessy

I have been an anxious person my entire life. I was the youngest of my siblings, which meant by default, I got the best excuse to hide behind my mom in social situations. The excuse of being shy and anxious is one I have used to avoid many of my problems for the majority of my life. From being the quiet child on the playground to now being a student journalist, it’s safe to say that I’ve come a long way since then. Yet, there will always be progress to be made.

With my anxiety comes a struggle to focus, which I have also dealt with since childhood. I can vividly remember the posters around my elementary school classrooms because I often looked at them more than my teachers. The skill of drowning out noise in the classroom is something that I seemed to master from a very young age. 

However, the subjects I seemed to find myself being the most attentive to were my English and literature classes. Something about finding a truer meaning behind words, being a storyteller, and conveying emotions through a simple pen allowed me to look deeper into not just myself, but also the world around me. So while I couldn’t seem to find myself infatuated by science or mathematics, I found a certain kind of beauty within the art of writing and reading. A beauty that is sometimes only attainable through words on a page. 

As children, I think all we really want to accomplish at a young age is to discover our passions. If you loved soccer, you wanted to be just like Messi. If you loved science, you wanted to be a doctor, a marine biologist, an archaeologist, etc. If you loved reading, you wanted to be an author. 

I found myself with almost a form of imposter syndrome before I discovered a love for writing. I did not know what I wanted to be, therefore I felt as though I didn’t know who I was. Finding a love for writing was a pivotal moment in my life, which allowed me to begin discovering who I am in this world. 

My very first step into the world of journalism was through a class provided by my high school, digital journalism. In hindsight, the class should have been entitled “sports journalism” since a majority of our work surrounded commentating on school games. I did not know much about journalism, so as someone who is not interested in sports; as well as being the only girl in that class, this left a bad taste in my mouth. It had completely turned me off from the idea of becoming a journalist. 

When I learned about the enormous landscape behind journalism aside from sports, I found myself wanting to get out of my shell for the first time in my life. To get out, find something peculiar, and get to write about it in a storytelling manner. I knew the second that I could write about issues and invoke change, that journalism was for me. So I committed, and I applied to Rowan University to become a journalist. 

My first assignment was a huge wake-up call. I remember during my first interview, my hands were shaking, my voice was cracking, and all I could think about was “What’s my next question going to be?”

I immediately began to discourage myself, thinking maybe I was too anxious, too nervous, to be in this industry. While I continued to pursue this career, this thought has always lingered in the back of my mind. It prevented me greatly from pursuing more journalistic opportunities and hindered me from growing as a writer. 

Going into this semester, I decided that I was done. I was done letting my anxiety rule me and my goals for the future. I now have accomplished about three times more this semester than I have throughout my entire time at Rowan. I have made new friends, and new memories, and learned my strengths. This has not only helped me become a much better writer but also as a person. I feel happier, and look forward to the future rather than dread the unexpected. 

This has become a life lesson to me, to advocate for myself and my personal growth. However, I see people throughout the world struggle with this in their career paths. I see people hindered by feeling inferior in their industries, and it aches my heart. 

So here is my message to anyone who feels they are too nervous: stop letting your worries hold you back from your highest potential. You are much more capable than your brain is telling you. Do you want something? Go out and get it for yourself, because only you can. Be your very own cheerleader and I promise you, you will grow further than you could have expected. And worry not, for the unexpected can bring an array of amazing opportunities. 

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