Safaris and Superhumans

When I got into my teammate Blythe’s car on Saturday so we could go on our Story Safari, the first thing I thought was, “This song is so good.”

I didn’t think about it again until I was back in my apartment several hours later, beyond relieved that we had found a story. I looked up the song just because I was curious. Before I knew it, I was playing it on repeat and dancing around my room. It’s only March, but I’m calling it now: “Something Just Like This” by The Chainsmokers and Coldplay is one of the best songs of 2017. At face value, it’s a love song. The narrator is a guy who thinks he’s not good enough for anyone because he’s not a character from Greek mythology or Marvel and DC Comics. The woman who loves him says she wants him just the way he is, not in the form of some heroic figure.

It took several listens for the hopeless romantic in me to step aside and realize the song had a deeper meaning than that. Believe it or not, it gave me hope for my journey through the most challenging branch of the Missouri School of Journalism.

Here’s some background info: The biggest part of the multimedia marathon that is J4804, Convergence Reporting, is pitching and producing stories with a team every other week. I was so excited to get started on my second team story after the first one went surprisingly smoothly. My new teammates and I were so confident on pitch day last Wednesday that we had a solid story.

We were totally wrong. Our ideas got shot down and we ended up on the dreaded Story Safari, which means using precious reporting time to roam mid-Missouri in search of a story. Sarah, our project manager, went on two Safaris last semester and told us we would be fine, but on Friday afternoon, we still didn’t have a story. I was in total freak-out mode by then. I’m a person of extremes, so I wasn’t just worried that we weren’t going to find a story; I was worried that I was never going to be a good multimedia journalist.

I entered my interest area a semester earlier than most j-schoolers, and convergence is the hardest sequence, so I feel like I really have to prove myself. I’ve wondered more than once if there’s no such thing as “good enough” in 4804 because the standards are so high. Don’t get me wrong: I appreciate the high standards because the professors, Judd and Mark, make it clear that they want us to be the best we can be, and they’re a fantastic support system. Also, I work best under pressure because I tend to procrastinate without it. But even so, I was worried last week that I had started climbing a mountain I couldn’t summit, even though I can’t imagine myself in any other sequence.

I felt better after my friend Gabe, an old MUTV acquaintance who took 4804 last semester, let me vent to him in the Futures Lab on Friday evening. I felt a lot better the next day after Blythe and our other teammate Alex and I snagged a story in the tiny river town of Glasgow, MO (downtown pictured above). But I didn’t feel 100% relieved until The Chainsmokers and Coldplay convinced me that I don’t need to be “somebody with some superhuman gifts” in order to do well in Convergence. I just need to be myself.

I’m trying to find the balance between admitting I can do something and using my capability as an excuse to be a slacker. It’s something my naturally extreme personality is trying to figure out. I’m beyond grateful that so many 4806 students, from Gabe to Sarah to Marlee to Abby to both Lydias, have told me I can do this. Heck, even Judd told me that, albeit silently. When he delivered the Story Safari verdict to my team, he looked right at me and his eyes said, “Don’t worry, it’s just a roadblock. You’ve got this.” My awesome convergence family has helped me realize that I’m a worthy 4804 student just the way I am because I’m here and I’m trying. Like Woody Allen said, “80% of life is showing up.”

I’ll never be superhuman, but by the end of the semester, I’ll be a super-journalist. And I’m so ready for that.

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