It’s been almost two years now in the bustling big city of Columbia, Missouri and I guess you could say I’m starting to get the hang of things. And by that I mean I’m getting used to sitting in my room until the sun goes down, making a mug cake at 7:00 and then heading for bed at a ripe 10:30. Receiving cat pictures from my mom has made its way into the “thrill” category of my brain.
But as time goes on at Journalist Factory, and I think it’s this way for most people, you start to think, “Well I’m just different.” I know that sounds a bit pick-me energy, but I’ll explain myself. In every class, we meet new people who seem to have their sights set on a specific dream. Or we meet people who are really, really good at something. Then there’s people who have confidence flowing out of them with every breath. You can’t help but feel inadequate around all of these people, so you try to justify it with, Well I’m just not like them. I’ll figure it out in a few years and really, you know, blossom.
And I know what I really want to do, I guess. It’s not that. I think there’s a bit of imposter syndrome in that even though some of us do have dreams like the confident ones, we don’t really believe we’ll be the ones to achieve them.
A little while ago I was in an interview for an internship and about halfway through, one of the editors stopped and told me they were actually really impressed with where I was for just being a sophomore. And to tell you I almost cried right there in an interview would be an understatement. To hear a stranger say they were impressed by me?! That was out of the ballpark for my expectations. I’m sure it’s this way for just about everyone my age nowadays, but there’s no way we’ll ever feel we are doing enough. It doesn’t matter how many magazines I contribute to or how many clubs I join, there’s someone in my class who has published more or is in more. Quality over quantity has been drilled into our heads since 2nd grade, and yet it hasn’t ever really made sense. You aren’t rewarded for putting everything you have into one thing you really love, so why would you do that?
In a few years, I imagine most people my age will be applying for our first real jobs. Some will have already been working for a while but those of us privileged enough to just be starting out in our careers will be trying to find places okay with the fact that we went to school during a pandemic. By that I mean a lot of the experiences we are expected to have and gain through education have been severely altered, even if just for a year and a half. A lot of companies might not be able to look past that lack of experience. And that’s … uh … kinda crazy lol. This is what I think about every time an adult tells me, “You have to have fun in college, too!” When they were in college, I’m *assuming* there wasn’t this insane culture of competition literally everywhere you go (like literally everywhere) and a pressure to still have an overflowing resume when it isn’t as possible to do so.
So this was really just me ranting about being overwhelmed in college, but it’s just something I feel like pretty much every single person in the Gen Z territory goes through at one time or another. I don’t want to act like I’m great at this, but I think we should have a little more understanding for everyone no matter their level of involvement in their school, their job or anything. As I like to say, we’re doing enough.