I’ve had fourteen first days of school. Yesterday marked number fifteen, the (most likely) penultimate occasion for quite some time. It’s still hard for me to wrap my head around the idea that, as I look around at the campus I’ve known for so long, I’m older than more than half of the undergraduate students here with me.
I guess the school year really started on Sunday afternoon in a fluorescent-lit room of Lee Hills Hall. It was something I had been looking forward to/ growing anxious over/ freaking out about since registering for fall semester classes: Missourian Reporting Orientation. Students gathered in lines divided up alphabetically by last name, where we were handed registration packets and shuffled off to take our press badge photos. It all reminded me so much of all the other first days of school and picture days, minus the bucket of combs, option to choose a colorful background and worrying whether or not to get the wallet sizes to exchange with friends.
As Caitlyn and I found seats in the room, which was already pretty packed and still awaiting more students to arrive, I was still feeling uneasy. Thoughts swirling in my head included the following:
- “Oh man, summer’s over and underclass work is over and real work begins now and when will I sleep soundly next?”
- “What if my press badge photo looks horrible and people won’t want to talk to me because I don’t even look like a real journalist?”
- “People are going to find out that I’m a fraud and I don’t belong and I’m not even literate. Then what?”
Throughout the four hour session in and around the newsroom, my anxieties subsided. It started to hit me: I am now a reporter for the Columbia Missourian, where I will write to serve the people of Columbia. I now act as a representative to deliver accurate and newsworthy information to the community that raised me. As a member of the Community Beat, I get to survey the different neighborhoods that I’ve driven through and heard about and explored and really unearth some of the colorful characters that make up this town. My favorite part of journalism is the opportunity to talk to interesting people I would otherwise never encounter and listen to their story and share it with others. Even with the fears of not knowing where to start or having to work outside of my comfort zone, that desire to be a great storyteller will never change.