Wednesday night, I worked my first official shift as an assistant city editor for the Columbia Missourian.
The first few hours were a slow slew of questions running through my head. Should I ask about this, or should I just do it myself? Did I wait too long to assign that story? Am I being too nice? Too firm? Should I be more confident? Do I need to back down?
Check the scanner. Flip through emails. Monitor the news sites. Talk to reporters. Communicate with your editors. Keep your cool, Allie. You can do this.
After a few hours of calmly fidgeting my way through my new job, the evening’s copy started coming in. The newsroom was calm, quiet. I had found my editing zone, and I was looking forward to an uneventful, solid first shift on the city desk.
That ended quickly.
In the next few hours, both reports of shots fired and a fire flew into the newsroom. I stood at the desk, ears glued to the scanner, checking in with the photo editor to make sure we were hearing the same things and taking the conversation to the news editor to work through how to handle both situations as they came. We sent reporters and photographers to each scene to figure out what, exactly, was happening, and somewhere in the thick of things, I read the rest of the night’s copy, called the police station to try to get a press release for the shots fired incident and wrote a brief from the release.
Eventually, we slid the last piece of copy through to the desk, and I stumbled out of the newsroom in a mix of exhaustion and adrenaline. Then I lay in bed for a good hour, trying to calm the energy pumping pumping pumping in my brain so I could get some sleep, waking up the next morning with the rush still coursing through my body.
And it felt fantastic.
Now, I know, I know, I know that this was only my first day, that I have several areas where I can/need to grow, that before the end of the semester I’ll probably sit in my room and cry and wonder if I’ve bitten off more than I can chew. I know.
But on Wednesday, once I buckled down and focused my mindset on the task at hand, I wasn’t thinking about that. I wasn’t thinking about how there was no way my homework was getting done that night. I wasn’t thinking about how normally, my temperament might have lent itself toward mild terror in this situation.
All I could think was that I was riding some crazy wave into the end of the night, that the thing that mattered in the moment was keeping my cool and my focus, that the work I was doing meant something. The energy, the rush was almost tangible — being part of a team willing to run with a change of plans and get the news out on time, knowing I could rely on my co-workers and helping them know they could rely on me, making quick decisions without making reckless ones, ensuring those decisions were a product of our whole team working together, trying to keep my cool while maintaining a sense of urgency.
As I figured out how to say what I was feeling the next day, it was possibly the most fun I’ve ever had being really stressed out.
I’m not totally sure how it happened. But after battling for a long time to get my fear under control, I wound up in a place where I didn’t have time for excessive self-doubt. The only thing I could manage was to tell myself I could do this. And with the help and support of a great team, we pulled it off.
And for a few hours, it was just good to be part of something bigger than anything I could have done on my own, something I’m finally figuring out I love.