Tonight I want to talk about risks. What is a risk anyway? Most people would say a risk is the possibility something bad could happen. That’s not how I define it. To me, a risk is straying from the norm, pushing the envelope, and saying adios to your comfort zone.
I’m an Agricultural Communication and Journalism student, and that means I have a lot of very intense classes. I write a lot of news, carry pens and notebooks in every bag I own, and checking my email is the first thing I do every morning. (Really though, I do it before I even get out of bed. Smartphones for the win!) It just…happened. I also have deadlines, very hard deadlines. Meaning if it says by 3:00 p.m. on Friday, it really means 2:45 on Friday, not 3:01.
Bee in flowers
I chose to take a more difficult project, and was thoroughly rewarded for it. So my advice to you is to take the risk. PHOTO by MIkel Kristenson.
I’m currently in a media class where we learn about all sorts of technology and how to use it. It’s really kind of fun after you get the hang of things, and it makes me feel cool. 🙂 When I first went into this class I was definitely out of my comfort zone. I didn’t even know the difference between a shotgun and a lavalier mic, let alone how to edit sound. Photoshop and Adobe Premier were out of the question, and don’t even get me started on video camera and white balancing.
But, luckily I have some pretty cool professors. They’re patient, used to repeating themselves, and usually have the ‘there’s not a dumb question’ attitude. This was great, because let me tell you I needed someone with a lot of patience.
Our last project for the semester was a video worth, well let’s just say it was worth quite a big chunk of points. Going into this I had only done one other video for the class, and that was with a partner. Now i realized I would have to do it on my own, with a lot of points tied to it as well. Naturally, I freaked-out. Instantly I was scouring school calendars and bulletin boards for the easiest topic I could find. In my mind, if I got an easy topic…the less likely the chance I could screw it up.
I decided on a relay race, went to class, and cautiously presented the idea to my professor. To give my professor credit, he didn’t flat-out say it was a horrible idea. He nodded, pretended like he was thinking about it, shuffled on his feet a little bit and said “yeah, a relay race would be okay, but wouldn’t something else be better?” To be honest, I was pretty ticked. I didn’t know what the heck I was doing, I was heading into finals with tons of other tests and projects, and this professor had basically just called my bluff. He didn’t have to say it, but he knew what I was doing.
Many college students take the attitiude of “C’s get degrees”. While I do agree in some (not all) classes, C’s are totally acceptable (hello college math). But, for a journalism class I knew I could do better than the event I wanted to do.
So, I was extremely put-off, frustrated,and scared out of my mind. My professor could see it, and casually said, “Look, aren’t you like an Ag. jo or something?” I nodded, yes I was an Agricultural journalist…but what did that have to do with anything? He nodded, “so…do an ag. piece. This is your chance. You can create this kick-butt video, give it to a future employer and say ‘here, check-out this ag. video and look what I can do.”
I was shocked, because I realized he was right. For the next 4 days I toiled with the idea of which event to do. Should I come up with an ag. event or should I just do the relay race. Justification kicked in, and I had myself 99.9% convinced the relay race would be fine. I kept saying, “it’s my video…I’ll do it on what I want to.” or “A relay race is cool, an employer would still be interested in seeing that.” and my favorite “a video’s just a dang video. Who cares what it’s about!?” As you can see, the justification got a little out of hand. My professor knew I could do better, and bottom line I knew I could do better.
So, the relay race came and went, my deadline got closer, I contacted a local entrepreneur- made a few trips out to their beehives and store, and prepared to step out of my comfort zone. To make a long story short, it wasn’t easy. They ran out of honey in their automatic fill tanks right before I showed-up to film, so we had to make a plan B. I got attacked by a bee trying to get natural sound of them buzzing (it stung my recorder actually….so I got really awesome sound of it stinging the crap out of my zoom). I forgot to turn the mic on for some of my interviews, and many other things. I left their place feeling okay but still very nervous. I was scared, scared my idea wouldn’t turn-out how I wanted. Scared I wasn’t good enough to do this in the first place. Scared I would get back to school with all this footage and sound, only to be laughed at.
Today, I showed-up to my lab and quietly sat in the back. I was on pins and needles, since this would be the first time I would look at my footage. Guys, I’ve never been so excited about a video. It turned-out better than I could have hoped for. I wasn’t laughed or mocked, in fact I was encouraged. They loved my raw sound of bees, applauded my ambition to do an off-campus story, and made me feel like a better journalist in general.
I spent a few hours editing and putting my sequence together, and when I left lab I felt so proud of myself. Was it the best video anyone has ever made? No, it’s far from that. The lighting’s off in most of the shots, some of the sounds have really rough cuts….but it’s so much better than a relay race. Looking back I realized my professor was right the whole time. He saw the potential I had and made me take a chance. Could I have done the relay race and gotten away with it? Yes. But we both would have known I was capable of so much more.
As fate would have it, I also had an internship interview today. It’s for an agricultural related extension, and they found-out about my bee video….and ATE IT UP! They loved it, we sat and talked about bees and my experience filming and they were so impressed. Looking back, I’m glad my professor (who knew that if he said what he did…I’m so stubborn and such a ‘go getter’ there was no way I’d stick with a campus event) saw my potential before I did.
It was a risk I took. Worst case scenario, it was a total flop and I found a last-minute event to cover. And that sometimes happens, I was just lucky enough to have it turn out. I’m taking this lesson and using it in the future. You have to take risks to get anywhere. You have to push past your comfort zone and believe in yourself a little. That’s the only way we grow. Looking how far I’ve come from the beginning of the semester, I’m glad I’ve slowly but steadily been pushing the envelope. You have to do it people! I promise, it’ll pay off in the end.