There I was, settled in with a bowl of ice cream, re-watching the classic teen movie Never Been Kissed. Curled up in my KU Snuggie on a Friday night, I came to a horrific realization: I am Josie Geller. Talented copy editor with a heart of gold and a habit of correcting other people’s grammar? Yeah, I know that girl.
Like Josie, I secretly want to be a reporter. That’s why I went to journalism school in the first place.
So what’s the problem? I’m shy.
I’ve managed to hide this trait well enough to answer questions in class, befriend coworkers and even make small talk with strangers. But when it comes to interviewing sources (and talking to potential new members during sorority recruitment), I feel like Josie Grossie: awkward, socially inept, and sort of unattractive in a Drew-Barrymore-with-braces way. All I can think is, This person couldn’t possibly take me seriously. I’m wasting his time. That was a stupid question.
When I took a multimedia reporting class, I avoided phone interviews for as long as I could and gathered a lot (too much) of my information through e-mail. Predictably, my stories were poorly sourced and hastily written. My teachers pointed out these facts and gave me a C.
One of them once said, “The talent’s there, but the work isn’t.” Somehow I took that to mean I was a terrible reporter and always would be. I almost changed my major, but my faculty mentor talked me out of it and encouraged me to try copy editing. I forgot all about my dream of being a reporter until recently, when I found the voice recorder my dad had bought me when I left for college four years ago. It had never been used.
Do I still want to be a professional reporter? I guess not. But for once I’d like a clip that doesn’t have someone else’s byline. I want to create something instead of just polishing it. I’d like my grandma to understand what I do for the paper; telling her I assign stories to copy editors doesn’t really elicit a look of overwhelming pride.
I’m not sure exactly how or when I’ll make that happen, but I’ll start by erasing Josie Grossie from my self-image entirely. And I’ll stop making decisions out of fear and just go after what I want.
Spoiler alert: Josie Geller crossed over to reporting after writing a revealing piece about her botched investigation and the embarrassing fact that she’d never been kissed. Maybe I’m on the right track.