Trusting myself (or, it’s better than I think it is)

(Reposted from the Spring ’13 Advanced Reporting blog.)

Earlier this week, I was parked in the Missourian lounge — computer out, notes open, to do list at my side — when another reporter walked by and asked how everything was going.

“It’s going,” I replied with a tired half smile.

But right after the words left my mouth, I decided to amend my answer.

“Things are probably going better than I think they are.”

After almost two semesters of reporting, I’m finally starting to believe that.

Back in January, Jeanne and I decided that I would do a multimedia story. Admittedly, I wasn’t thrilled when we made this decision — I had a tough time with my 4450 multimedia project, and I was nervous that this story would be a frustrating repeat.

But I decided to push through, figuring this would be the semester equivalent of eating my vegetables. On Tuesday, I headed out to take photos. I was a bit nervous — I hadn’t touched anything more complicated than a point-and-shoot  for more than a year, and I wasn’t feeling particularly confident in my skill behind the lens.

An hour before I left, I sat in my living room fiddling with the Nikon D7000, pouring over my old J2150 notes (because I never throw anything away, ever), figuring out what aperture was and what I was supposed to do with it anyway. I drove out to the site and spent a couple of hours running around with my camera, trying to look cool and composed while snapping photos.

Back at home that evening, I scrolled through what I’d captured. Hey, these aren’t so bad. That one is kind of cool. I really like this photo. I was surprised at how much I was proud of what I’d done. By the end of the next day, I had a working draft strung together, and I made a point to tell my roommates and my friends who came over. Hey, you have to check this out. I made a multimedia story, and it doesn’t suck.

I suppose that’s been a theme this week. I spent a lot of time doubting myself, but even more time being surprised that most of what I worried about actually went fairly well — a set of data that finally came through, an extra interview or two that I pushed to land, a multimedia piece that I can get excited about, a story I was worried wouldn’t be ready that might become a longer-term project spilling into the fall.

I often find it difficult to trust myself — I’d rather default to worry and fear because for some reason, it feels safer. But this week, and this semester, I’ve been recognizing that I know I’m better at what I do than I sometimes lead myself to believe. I make my share of mistakes, and I turn in mediocre drafts at times, but I really am starting to figure out what it looks like for me to do journalism, and I probably know more about what I’m doing than I’ll admit to myself.

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