Theme of the Month: Retrospection
Star of the Month: Laura Dern
It’s weird to think how much I’ve changed (in terms of my journalistic confidence) in just the last year.
I took my first class in the journalism program about a year ago, and I remember both being enthused and terrified about what the course would entail. I knew I’d finally be getting some pointers on how exactly to write professionally, but I also was aware – and sort of sad – that writing would no longer be this private thing I just so happened to share with the world sometimes. I additionally was very conscious of the fact that I’d have to step way outside my comfort zone.
Suddenly, writing would be become more than a pastime for which I had a great passion. It was potentially going to be the thing which defined me professionally. I was nervous: what would I do if I ended up disliking the class? I certainly didn’t have a backup. (I always said teaching, but I think I was just tricking myself into thinking I had some invisible cushions surrounding me.)
In spite of my unease, I tried to tackle this class as best as I could. For the quarter’s first couple months, things weren’t so bad: I learned what a “lede” was, and I also became a great deal more familiar with basic journalistic ethics and AP style. In a matter of weeks, I felt much more cultured, educated. I was excited. But I also found myself incredibly anxious when I’d have to do basically any sort of assignment that required me to be assertive. (One photo assignment, where I had to simply take snapshots of an event, was full of inadvertent trembling and loud gulps.)
At the time, my nightmare came in the form of our final project, which seemed so far on the syllabus but came around with the lightning speed of one of Azealia Banks’ rap verses.
We were to write a public affairs story that was supplemented by at least three sources and was relevant to the UW community. I was freaked out, to say the least. For the first time, I couldn’t just bang out a 450 to 1,000-word essay telling readers why they should or shouldn’t watch a certain Humphrey Bogart movie in a handful of hours. I’d actually have to go out into the real world. Learn about a subject I knew nothing about. Talk to strangers. Just the word “interview” sent a shiver down my spine, though I still regularly looked forward to receiving copies of Interview magazine in the mail.
For the assignment I wrote about classroom neutrality in the political science department following the election. Throughout the ordeal, I was petrified; my voice and hands shook even when I spoke with approachable, excitable poli-sci students for just 10 or so minutes at a time. After much sweat, I managed to finish the article early. I got a decent grade. I even ended up getting the thing published in my school’s newspaper. (To date, it’s the only story I’ve written for the News section; catch me in Arts & Leisure at least once per week now.)
I felt similarly when I took my next journalism class. Yet with each course and each new experience, I’ve found that my various anxieties have slowly but surely started slipping away, traded for more practical worries that are, for the most part, a lot easier to live with because they aren’t lined with quasi-delusion.
Most basic things that used to scare the shit out of me have now suddenly become just part of being a developing journalist. I no longer unhealthily speculate when a potential source doesn’t answer my email just moments after I hit send. (Now I just healthily speculate.) I no longer overthink how a certain interview is going to go – I allow the magic to happen when it happens. I’m still learning, of course. But it’s strange that so many of these actions which incurred major anxiety in me not so long ago have become normal parts of my life.
This holds especially true in the context of the internship at the Bothell-Kenmore and Kirkland Reporters I’ve taken on this quarter. Here, there’s no space to overthink or wallow in my various anxieties. All the things which were daunting my sophomore year have become things I have to live with and utilize regularly. I’d like to think I’m living with them pretty comfortably now.
Since I’ve been thinking about my personal growth so often these last few months, I found it fitting that February’s theme on Peterson Reviews be comparably contemplative. Rather anti-climatically, I’m this month’s theme will be Retrospection, and such will entail that I watch a smattering of movies that feature characters ruminating on their pasts and how their previous decisions have affected the ways they’re living now.
So when trying to think of who the star of the month would be, I only had a few requirements. I wanted to highlight an actress who I considered to be thoughtful and considerate, one of those on-screen talents who seems forever interested in self-improvement and risk-taking. And I couldn’t help but think of Laura Dern, who’s always been an exceptional actress and has consistently explored her acting abilities in ways that can only be compared to previous month headliners like Meryl Streep and Nicole Kidman. Plus, Dern had a pretty fantastic 2017, and she’s been on my mind a lot. I can’t wait to explore her filmography further.
I expect February to be full of rewarding viewing experiences, and I hope you take away some of my current enthusiasm through whatever I’m particularly keen on recommending. Here’s to a great 28 days. Happy watching, and happy reading!