I walked into Cafe Blue Door, not sure of who I was looking for. My eyes passed over people that I knew, and I waved at a friend (Cafe Blue Door is one of my favorites).
I was alert and unprepared for the interview that I was supposed to be having. My eyes searched the tables and chairs for the journalists. For a moment, I panicked, wondering how I could have been so oblivious that I didn’t know who I was interviewing with. Then I see it: a Daily Californian hat. I smile and approach the two opinion editors.
This was my first interview for a position as a staff writer for a newspaper. Not just a newspaper, but the Daily Cal. This was bigger than any other publication I have interviewed or written for. I was nervous, feeling not good enough, wondering if their choice to meet me was a mistake. Wearing a nervous smile and a black dress that I have worn too many times (one of the only things that can pass as a semi-formal interview outfit), I sat down to answer their questions and ask some of my own.
I was put on the spot. I didn’t have much experience in this area, but I went for it anyway. In any situation like this, I try to be honest and upfront so that in the end, my interviewer will get a good idea of who I am. I was, and they did.
Rewind to two weeks earlier: I remember scrolling absentmindedly through Facebook one day before school was out for the summer. I had seen the summer applications for the Daily Cal a few times on my feed. The idea had been seeded in my mind. Some of my friends were posting about it; some of my friends have been staff members. When I scrolled past a third share on my Facebook feed, I began to think that this must have been a sign.
I clicked on the link. My hands were working frantically to gather information. Before I knew it, I had submitted an application. Sure that I wouldn’t get a response, I prepared myself to be OK with that. This was one of the many impulsive decisions I have made in my life.
A few days later, I checked my inbox and was surprised to see an email from the Daily Cal. I smiled as I opened it. Bad news: the position that I wanted for The Weekender was not offered during summer. Good news: they still wanted me to interview for another position, as an opinion columnist.
I honestly didn’t know what that was.
Fast forward to the interview: I didn’t feel like I had much experience writing opinion pieces. I told them that, thinking there was no way I could do this. I expressed to them that I literally had no idea what I was doing.
This one was probably not one of my best. I was sure that I was embarrassing myself, sitting hunched over and small, talking in my insecure voice.
But they heard what I was trying to communicate to them, and they wanted me to give it a shot.
I was excited! I was going to get incredible experience writing in a newspaper setting. I was going to put my words out into the world, and people would read them!
I wanted my voice to be heard, for people to know that I have something to say and to know about all the challenges that I have gone through to get where I am today.
This summer has been unbelievable. It’s been one adventure after the next. I have done so many things I never thought I would do. It’s true that, at times, I have been worried and stressed out. The other truth is that I don’t regret anything. I don’t regret the choice to make my voice known. I took time for myself to think deep and breathe. I am glad that I challenged myself to be more vulnerable with my words. This is one of the first times in my life where I don’t want to be silent.
I got an amazing response from my family and friends when I reposted my articles on Facebook and Twitter. I felt seen for the first time (and definitely not the last).
I know last time I was talking about goodbyes, but the good thing about goodbyes is that there is a hello right around the corner. I feel ready for the next phase in my life.
I have made my voice stronger and bolder. And I am proud of that.