Learning to take risks leads to leadership position

Applause, cheers and tears filled the room as I announced to my family that I was the new editor-in-chief for The Union.

My uncle’s eyes welled up with tears.

Soon after, my mom began to cry.

It was only once a year that we all got together on my late great-grandmother’s birthday to celebrate her life.

I had gotten the news from my professor a week prior and was so excited to tell my family.

As I stood there listening to my family congratulate me, I was filled with a mix of emotions ranging from happiness to self-doubt.

Disappointing my family was one of my biggest fears; I always want them to be proud of me and being editor-in-chief was a huge responsibility.

Though I was still hesitant about embarking on this new journey, I realized that none of it would’ve happened if I didn’t take a risk and apply to become a part of The Union staff.

I’ve always been the type of person who was afraid to take risks out of a fear of failure.

Also, I always seem to self-sabotage situations.

It was in my Journalism 1 class where the editor-in-chief announced that staff applications were available.

Even though it sparked my interest, I kept telling myself that being a writer wasn’t what I wanted to do.

As applications circulated the room, I began to think, “Why not take a chance; who knows what this could lead to?”

The light bulb went off in my head and despite the trepidation, I decided to take the risk and apply for the position.

Looking back, applying to become a staff writer for The Union was probably one of the best decisions I’ve ever made.

The first day on the job felt like I had entered into uncharted territory.

There were times when I felt like throwing in the towel because I thought I couldn’t handle it.

Starting something and not finishing it was a pattern I had fallen into before.

As the first few weeks went by, I hadn’t written any stories yet and was considering dropping the class even though I told myself I wasn’t going to quit.

I decided to stick around for a few more weeks and suddenly an opportunity came up that changed everything.

I was co-enrolled in the newspaper production class and in the advanced reporting and news editing class, which meant I was eligible to become an editor.

I was offered the opinion editor position.

All of a sudden I was designing pages, creating assignments, and was in charge of the opinions section.

Although this new position came with a new level of responsibility and discipline, I soon realized how much I liked it.

I went home that night and told my mom that I was the new opinion editor and she was so proud of me. I couldn’t wait to tell everyone else I knew.

As each newspaper deadline came and went, I felt like I was getting the hang of it. With every page design I improved more and more.

I was proud of myself for not giving up because I realized the other editors saw the potential in me that I hadn’t seen in myself. I was determined to see the semester through.

As the semester came to an end, it was time for staff members to reapply for the upcoming spring. I remember checking off the opinion editor position, but found myself hovering over the editor-in-chief position a few times.

Being editor-in-chief meant twice the responsibility, the person who is in charge of the entire publication.

I wasn’t convinced that I had it in me.

I turned in my application and the following day I asked my professor how many people had applied for the editor-in-chief position.

She told me that only two people had applied and there was another interview spot open if I wanted it.

Once again, I was faced with the same uncertainty.

I was terrified, but I remembered that I had made the right decision by following my gut the last time, so I said yes.

The nerves were insurmountable leading up to the interview.

I had no clue what my professor was going to ask me and as much as I tried to prepare, nothing seemed to stick.

To my surprise the interview went smoothly.

It was in that moment I realized how much I wanted to be the next editor-in-chief.

Within 24 hours, I was.

With the spring semester in full swing, I was struggling to embrace my role as editor-in-chief, the boss essentially.

It seemed like every week there was another bump in the road.

Through the trials and tribulations, we got through six amazing issues and it felt like I had reached the top of the mountain.

The whole whirlwind year with The Union brought me back to the letter.

When I was 12 years old, my seventh grade teacher had us write a time capsule letter to ourselves.

She promised that she would mail them to us once we graduated high school.

It’s been two years since I graduated, but I recently rediscovered the letter while cleaning my room.

My 12-year-old self could never have fathomed being able to accomplish all of the things I have with writing, journalism and being editor-in-chief for The Union in such a short amount of time.

In the letter I wished myself luck in whatever career I decided to pursue and said that I was proud of myself.

That young and naive tween that I was, is a completely different person today.

Without knowing it, that one small gamble resolidified my commitment to journalism.