First year reporter gaining confidence one convention at a time

By Aisha Espinosa
Staff Writer

BOSTON – From the time I was a starry eyed little kid, I have loved writing.

It has always been a part of me, a vital little piece that allowed me to truly be me. I described writing as my heart and my soul, and a time when all my feelings are put into light.

I could not, and will not, imagine my life without writing.

And somewhere along the way, I fell in love with journalism, too. Instead of making up a story, I could tell someone else’s, share their story with the world in a way that they could not. That was what thrilled me about journalism and newspapers – the fact that I could potentially change a person’s life by writing one tiny story.

I grew up, and my love for writing only increased. High school came around, and I did what I thought was natural.

I took journalism and photography, and it felt so incredibly right. For the first time in years, I was doing something that made me superbly happy and made me feel like I belonged.

So I applied for The Sidekick newspaper. The day I found out I had made it to the staff will forever be one of the happiest days of my life. I still remember the rush I had all day, the grin on my face that stayed until my cheeks hurt. On top of making the staff, I was thrilled to learn that I could attend the Gloria Shields All-American Publications Workshop in Addison over the summer.

What better way to start off the newspaper than to do a workshop, right?

Wrong.

My insecurities got the best of me as soon as I learned who was going: most of the editors and a senior staff writer.

But it was not just being the only sophomore in a group of experienced, wonderful writers.

All my life, I had been told that I was great, that I was going to do something, change something, with my writing someday. And then I went to the Gloria Shields workshop, and suddenly there were a hundred other people exactly like me.  There were a hundred other students more talented than I was, and that scared me.

Instead of being cool, collected and confident in myself, I was a mess. I was constantly comparing myself to others around me, feeling smaller and less significant by the second.

This lasted into the school year, and only got worse as I found myself scrambling to meet deadlines and write quality stories.

I was drowning. The walls were slowly closing in on me, and I was suffocating. Up until the day the JEA/NSPA Fall National High School Journalism Convention in Boston was mentioned.  Even though I was apprehensive (should I go to someplace where I am going to feel those same things again?) – something about Boston felt right in a far different way than making the newspaper did.

I did something that shocked myself. I signed up.

And it has made all the difference.

When I stepped out into the crisp Boston air upon arrival on Thursday, something inside of me came alive. There was no longer this constant pressure of having to be the best, of trying the hardest and trying to top everyone else.

I left everything that was troubling me behind, because in the world of journalism, it does not matter what your grade is in physics.

It does not matter what you are wearing or what people think of you. First place and the best do not matter, so long as you give your all, throw yourself into your work head first and be proud of what you have done.

So take that initiative, and do something that scared you to the pit of your stomach. Break out of your shell and live. You will never know what you fill find, whether it be a new friend, a new love.

Maybe you will even find your place in the world, like I did.

It took over 5,000 students and new city to make me believe in myself. And I will forever be grateful to Boston, Mass., the place where my dreams and love of writing, the world and journalism were re-ignited.