I can still distinctly remember the first time I walked into the newsroom at the Arizona Daily Wildcat. It was a cold day (by Tucson standards anyway) and I was there to apply for a position as a news reporter. But once there I suddenly became overwhelmed by a series of all-too-familiar feelings.
Dread. Nervousness. Self-doubt.
I’ve always had a reputation for being talkative, even to the point of annoyance. Very rarely is there a time when I can’t enter into the flow of a conversation or crack a joke only I find funny. But ironically, for much of my life, I was terrified of talking to people. And I mean terrified, almost to the point of paralysis.
When I was 16 I walked with a friend and my girlfriend at the time into the Target in Flagstaff to check up on a job application I had submitted a few weeks prior. Once we got there, I forced both of them to aimlessly walk circles around the store, all because I couldn’t muster the moxie or channel the chutzpah to go up to someone I didn’t know and ask them a fairly innocuous question. In hindsight, this should have been a warning sign about how well my brief tenure as a target employee would go, but that is neither here nor there.
I dealt with this hesitation my entire life. And finally, as a college sophomore, I was sick of it. I wanted nothing more to be able to socialize in strange situations with no fear. This was part of the reason I wanted to become a journalist in the first place.
And yet on that first day in the newsroom I couldn’t bring myself to ask anyone where an application was. I feigned that I had just come into the office to warm up, and I left, my cheeks red for reasons other than the chilly weather.
Now, a hair more than two years after that day, I have been selected for the position of Daily Wildcat editor in chief. And it is only now, as that reality begins to sink in, that I think back to that abbreviated and embarassing first visit to the Wildcat. I wonder if that same cornucopia of recalcitrance that had dogged me for much of my life would have kept me from ever working up the nerve to apply. Had Michelle (A.) Monroe, a classmate and friend, not sent me a Facebook message asking if I was interested in a position, would I ever have been able to overcome the sting of that first embarrassment?
While that question seems laughable now, knowing myself back then, the answer is probably not.
Nothing better illustrates the all-encompassing impact of the Wildcat on my life then that realization that the entire course of my professional career, as well as my personal outlook, have been fundamentally altered by one Facebook message. But I guess that’s just the power of social networking.
As I look ahead now and prepare to enter the latest, and possibly last chapter of my Wildcat career, I no longer feel those same trepidations that I once did. And I know this is due much more to the people that I’ve had the privilege of meeting and working with here than it does my own personal development. I could go on ad nauseum thanking every single person who ever positively affected me during my time here, but I’m sure I would erroneously omit someone and that is not my intent. So suffice to say that if I have ever worked with you, talked with you, or awkwardly bumped into you around a blind corner in the office, thank you. I could never give words to how much this experience has meant to me, nor how privileged I feel to have the honor to serve as editor in chief. Thank you to all, and to all a good night.