Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Seeing Red

"If everyone would look for that uniqueness then we would have a very colorful world." — Michael Schenker

Beautiful World

 "We all have a story to tell, whether we whisper or yell." — Happily Ever After by He Is We

This week in my Cross Cultural Psychology class we started talking a lot about stereotypes and how we can prevent people from simply pushing people into categories after a second of observation. Me and my roommate, Devon, started discussing (Even though we were supposed to be paired with someone we didn't know...oh well), and the first thing we decided was if people just took a minute to talk to the person they were judging, their opinion of them might completely change.

One thing that never ceases to amaze me is the fact that every single person in this world has a story. And the only way to discover these stories is by talking to new people. Think of how many stories you pass every day just walking from class to class on campus. If you never just simply talk to someone new, you'd never know what kind of story you are missing out on. 

The first time this realization really hit me was first semester of freshman year. I was really homesick, but had no way of getting back to Chicago (7 hours and no money), so one of my good friends on Marching Mizzou Color Guard, Carissa, invited me and our other friend, Kara, to her house in Missouri for the weekend. We decided that it's better than nothing and packed our bags for the weekend. We drove an hour and half away to an area near Hermann, Missouri. We started getting close to her house, and the first thing Kara and I noticed was that our cell phone service was almost completely gone. Then Carissa started talking about the ferry we have to take to cross the river to get to her house as she turned onto a gravel road that stretched for miles. We started drive along the bumpy road, over floods and completely in the dark. Kara and I, being from Chicago, were completely fascinated by the way she lives. The nearest Walmart was around 30 minutes away! We went out to dinner and everyone knew her. Her mom owns the main local restaurant in town and her dad owned the bar in the nearest town. The next day, her neighbor picked us up in his pickup truck and took us to his farm where we got to pet cows, hold pigs and learned to drive a tractor. It amazed me that a lifestyle so different from what I'm used to is just an hour off of campus. If I never agreed to going home with Carissa, I would have never known. 

Later in the semester, I had the same experience with the MKT Trail. One of my best friends at Mizzou, Sally, and I decided we wanted to go on a walk and take some photos. Sally of course has ran on the MKT trail a million times and knew all the areas where she wanted to take photos at, and I had never even heard of the MKT trail before. We ended up going on a 5 mile walk and barely making it to our FIG class in time. It amazed me that something so beautiful is literally 2 minutes off of campus, and if you are too lazy to get off your butt and go exploring, you'd never know it existed. 

The last experience that completely cemented my fascination of getting to know every story and experience new places happened over this past winter break. I was a production assistant at The Maneater every Monday night first semester this year. Normally by the time it came around to go to work, I was completely stressed out and had a million things left to do on my to do list, which resulted in me trying to get in and get out of the office as soon as possible. I'd finish my work as fast as I could, then go into a different area of the office and try to get all my work done, so I didn't talk or get to know a lot of the people that I worked with every week. Looking back on this, I'm realizing how beneficial it is to be fully present wherever you are. There was one boy I worked with all semester (kind of knew his name, and that was it) that I made some quick judgements about what kind of person he was (exactly what we were talking about preventing in Cross Cultural Psychology....) and never thought deeper into it. My last night working, I was in another area working on a study guide when he turned the corner and sat down and started talking to me. That night I had one of the most open conversations I've ever had with someone. We realized we lived in similar areas in Chicago and ended up hanging out over Winter Break. Long story short, after spending another day with him, I realized I completely misjudged him. The kid that I shrugged off to be a stoner turned out to be an amazing, ambitious, drug-free man who has completely opened my eyes to so many new things in such a short period of time. So, I guess the moral of the story is from now on I should take off my own advice and actually have a conversation with someone before I jump to conclusions. 

All of these experiences have just expanded my curiosity and desire to travel the world and meet as many interesting people as a I can. Seeing different parts of the world makes me appreciate every detail and the beauty in everything. Hearing people's stories makes me appreciate what I have in life and opens my eyes to the struggle of others. As my best friend Melanie would say,  we live in a beautiful world.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Confidence is Key

"Whether you think you can or think you can't, you're right." — Henry Ford

"Just be yourself." Individuality. Confidence. These are all things I have noticed myself thinking about a lot more in the past week. Ever since we were little, teachers and parents always stressed how important it is to just be yourself regardless of what anyone else thinks. Going off to college is a huge transition for most of us and a time to focus on finding ourselves. I believe being confident with who you are and what you believe are two of the most important things to discover in college. If you don't believe in yourself, who will?

The exact same concept applies to journalism. Even if you have no idea where you are or exactly what you want to get out of the story, you need to walk with confidence. No matter how many times a story or source falls through, you need to keep your chin up just as high as it was before. Learn from your mistakes, don't be afraid of them. I think fear is what can ruin you as a successful journalist. The best pictures aren't angles and ideas that are "playing it safe," they are the shots where the photograph took a risk, experimented and approached with confidence. You can't be afraid to take hundreds of awful pictures just to capture that one amazing moment. 

Going into multimedia, I was a little hesitant and self-conscious since I've never expressed myself through photography before. After this week, I've realized confidence is key. We're given all the resources we need to experiment and learn in our own way. If you go into an assignment with the attitude that you're going to give it 100% and create amazing work, chances are that's what you'll end up with.

Friday, January 20, 2012


"Goals in writing are dreams with deadlines." — Brian Tracy

I can't even keep track of the number of times I've said, "I've always wanted to do that!" My mental list of things I'd like to learn goes miles long, but for some reason I never find the time to actually follow through with them. Over winter break, I finally sat down and wrote out my list of things I wanted to accomplish at some point, which included learning to play the guitar, learning a new piano song and at the top of the list was photography. 

Photography has always been something that interested me, but I never had the resources to learn. I wanted to take a photo class in high school, but my electives were always filled with Spanish, band and journalism, so a new hobby always got pushed to the back burner. I've wanted a nice camera for a while, but they are so expensive, and I always found other things to spend my money on. Like a lot of the other goals and dreams floating around in my head, photography was something I thought I'd never actually get to learn and experience.

After the first week of J2150, I could not be more excited about everything the class has to offer. This class is finally holding me accountable to do something that I've always wanted to learn more about. I can't wait to finally be able to understand what all the random numbers mean on the display of the camera, to understand how lighting affects a photo and finally capture all the images and creatives ideas in my mind into a photo. This class will probably be the class I need to work the hardest in, but I know my hard work will all be worth it once I can check photography off my goal's list.