Majoring in journalism in a little town like Waco, Texas is a quick way to boost your ego—and that's exactly what happened to me.
Before attending Baylor, I knew that I could write well but never gave it much thought. I chose my university without much thought of location or industry opportunities because I was planning to major in psychology.
Being located in central Texas didn't matter for most of my freshman year. But, as spring semester came to an end and I decided (very last minute) that I wanted to do find some kind of writing internship, location became a bit of a nuisance.
My options were narrowed to places that offered summer internships, which most publications do, but it's also the most competitive semester. I could've spent my fall and spring semesters interning at local publications, but quickly decided I wanted to work on a bigger scale. I was fully prepared to be Andy Sachs in Devil Wears Prada.
So, I continued fighting for summer internships and searching everywhere for remote opportunities that I could work during the school year—unpaid, of course.
During the first semester of my junior year, I was required to write for the school paper. I can pinpoint this as being the semester my ego about my writing inflated. As a sports and feature writer I was able to cover pretty interesting stories and occasionally got to write long-form which I enjoyed most.
I won an awarded and was constantly told my professors that I was one of the best feature writers in the class and one of the best student's they'd seen come through the department.
The first semester of my senior year continued much the same way. I got tons of praise in my magazine and feature writing class and had a close relationship with the professor who always reminded me what a good writer and editor I was.
Unfortunately, I spent the whole next semester not writing at all. The silver lining? I had an internship at Oprah.com. I returned to school a month before graduation and received the same praises from my professors.
A month later, I graduated and landed a writing a job—still on cloud nine.
But, soon after taking my job I came crashing down, finally realizing that while I may have talent I was a big fish in a small pond in Waco and Los Angeles is much bigger pond.
I don't blame Baylor or my professors who I learned so much from, rather I blame myself for becoming complacent and thinking that I was the best writer when I'm so young and have so much to learn.
Starting my new job was a huge blow to my ego, but it's also forced me to take necessary steps to bettering myself and my writing. One thing I've learned, never take months at a time away from your craft. But also, remember that there's always room for growth and the best way to grow is to listen.
I've never been one who's afraid of critique or being edited. Really, you just can't be as a journalist. But, I've also never been someone who "needed" heavy editing. After going home many night irritated that an editor was fixing my work like I was a writer with no experience, I remembered to shut up, listen and make my work better.
Slowly, I'm getting back to the eager-to-learn writer that I was before praise grew my ego. I'm adjusting to being a big fish in a big pond and trying to remind myself daily to "just keep swimming."