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Above my fireplace is a framed 8×10 photograph of me before my first day of second grade. A half smile limps across my face, at the request of my mother of course. I’m dressed in a brand new white Old Navy tank top; the scratchy lace and fit made me feel uncomfortable and self-conscious. Everything about the photo, even my smile, was forced.
I look at this photo now and it makes me cringe. I wish I could tell the little girl that things get better. I wish I could tell her that she will gain more confidence in herself throughout high school. I wish I could tell her that she will become comfortable socially. That is the girl I am now.
Everything changed when I began taking journalism during my sophomore year. This course demanded that I get comfortable talking to strangers, and I surprised myself with each interview. I went from writing a feature on the new gym teacher, to interviewing the principal about a recent bomb threat, to even calling Harvard University to challenge members of the admissions board on their foreign language requirement.
Today, I ask myself how I went from being afraid to raise my hand to snagging a face-to-face interview with a District Attorney. After a formal award ceremony I attended, hosted by our very own D.A., Anthony Gulluni, I saw newscasters and journalists rushing towards the stage, eager to have their questions answered. I felt compelled to join them. As Editor-in-Chief of my high school newspaper, I felt it was my duty to participate.
I elbowed my way through the crowd until I reached Gulluni. Just when I was going to introduce myself, a journalist from 22 News piped in and tried to cut in front of me. There was no way I was letting her do that, professional status or no professional status. I talked right over her until she retreated to her camera crew. But once I realized that I actually had to speak to Gulluni, I was instantly nervous. I knew I had to do this, not just for the interview, but for myself. I asked my questions and then shook his hand. Before he let go, he looked into my eyes and said, “You’re going places, kid.”
His words have stuck in my head. This experience made me realize that I can do whatever I want in life. Journalism has enabled me to gain confidence in myself and do things I never imagined back in second grade. The little girl in that 8×10 is stuck in a frame forever. I will never feel boxed in again. Now I am the young woman everyone recognizes from the Friday morning TV show. Now I’m the young woman who snaps photos at every event. Now I’m the young woman who interviews a District Attorney. I’m the kid who is “going places.”
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