Herrick: Stepping off the Deep-End

Comfort Zones are a funny thing. Most people would describe their comfort zones as being their everyday activities, sports, and experiences. Going into my sophomore year I was in my comfort zone. I had a year of high school under my belt, solid relationships with people in the school, and knew exactly what sports and extracurriculars I wanted to be in. One of those extracurriculars was News. Seeing News pop up on my schedule was not a surprise to me. I had signed up not knowing what the class would entail but knowing that I was a good writer, was going to have friends involved in the class,  and knew it was worth college credit. The second I stepped into this newsroom I kid you not my life was changed.

In this school, I was known for being the quiet underclassman in the back of the classroom full of juniors and seniors. I was only spoken to by most classmates if they needed help with a science lab or English paper. Being moved up a grade in most classes was a blessing and a curse at the same time. I have been fortunate enough to be given the opportunity to expand my learning at the rate at which my mind works, but the consequences of these actions took their toll. Being the youngest in the class by a grade level inadvertently made me lose my voice and, my confidence to speak up. I would go out of my way to isolate myself because I thought that no one wanted to work with or talk to the sophomore. This became my new comfort zone. Being not alone but in solitude.

News Journalism took that comfort zone, told it that it could do better, turned it 180 degrees, and magically transformed it into a whole new dynamic. Walking into this room for the first time was an adventure. Those friends who told me they were taking this class never showed up. Luckily for me two other girls, Annelise and Allison, who I was also close with walked through the doors seconds after me. Being one of three sophomores amongst a group of juniors and seniors who I had little knowledge or interaction with was scary. My first thought when seeing our staff as a whole was and I quote, “This is an interesting bunch.” We had staff members from all different social groups. We had band kids, choir kids, athletes, intellectuals, Mock Trial members, cheerleaders, artists, and many more activity and social dynamic members. Looking around the room back then I saw a hodge-podge group of students who I did not know very well. I was then told seconds after that that I would have to collaborate and work with every single one of them. This would be an uncomfortable step outside of my comfort zone, but I told myself I could handle it.

A week later I got my first story assignment. I need to interview and write about a student from ADM. Piece of cake right? Wrong. I got assigned a senior from the football team. Now this might seem like an easy story to write, but let me tell you that little-reserved-beginning-of-sophomore-year-Addi thought that this was the end of the world. Not only did I have to interview this person who I had never spoken to before in my life, but I had to walk into a classroom full of seniors interrupting their class and pull him into the hallway. This story was supposed to take me 10 minutes to write, but it turned out it took a week because of a combination of things. First I couldn’t work up the nerve to walk into that classroom. Secondly, I botched part of the interview, meaning I had to re-do that section, and lastly, I forgot to take a picture of my interviewee. This poor guy must have been so sick of me pulling him out of class for the same story that was maybe 10 sentences long. Needless to say, that first story pushed me headfirst into the deep end of unexplored territory. Yes, you guessed it–this was the beginning of the end of my former comfort zone.

Since that first week, I have learned so much from this class. I have learned how to not only write quality writing but become a true reporter. I have interviewed countless people ranging from a freshman who I most likely scared with my accidentally acquired “reporter voice” all the way up to seniors who I am no longer afraid to talk to as well as staff members. I have even learned how to address and question administrators within the school district. I learned how to work a camera and found a passion for photography that I will continue to dabble in. I have developed a family-like bond with the staff who I previously thought were weirdos. They have each taught me separate lessons that I value to this day and love each of them dearly. I’ve learned how to operate on a deadline, became a vlogger for a portion of the year, and threw too many birthday parties. However, the most important lesson I have learned from this wild ride of a year with this class is how to use my voice, be a confident individual, and push myself outside of my comfort zone.

These lessons have impacted me in so many ways. I have successfully been interviewed by news stations without fear due to this class. I have turned a new leaf and constantly speak up and participate in class. I have made friends with juniors and seniors within this class and the school as a whole due to being able to be my true self and not being isolated. If I continued to list things I have learned from this class, I’m not sure if this story would ever end. Needless to say, this year has been a wild ride, but I wouldn’t change it for the world. Comfort zones have been broken and relationships have been made. Thank you, News Journalism.