This is the first Inside Column I’ve ever written. Don’t mess this up. It has to be good. No, it has to be great. I can do this. I’ve written stories for years.
But how should I even begin? What should I write about? I have so much to say, and yet, none of it seems relevant or important enough to include in the eternal archives of The Observer, to be published for so many to see.
Since joining my high school’s newspaper my freshman year, every story I’ve ever written for a news publication has been about somebody else. For almost five years now, I’ve covered events, student features, beloved teachers, sports games, state and national competitions, renovations, global issues, music releases, politics and even a parking lot. (I wish I was kidding.) I’ve never had to write something about myself.
Here’s what I’ll do. I’ll rattle on about something I’m interested in. Anything at all.
“Music will forever be an inspiration.” No, that’s way too overdone.
“Movies have always been an escape for me.” No, gosh, what a cliché.
“Books can open an entirely new world.” I don’t read nearly enough books for that.
“Thrifting isn’t a hobby. It’s a lifestyle.” What am I even trying to say here?
I’ve seen others at The Observer write about an event in their lives, a relationship that’s forever changed them or simply an idea so beautifully written, you sit there reading in astonishment. I like to think of myself as a relatively interesting person. I could write something like that.
“I met my best friend in my seventh-grade math class.” Cute, but everyone has a story like that.
“My step-grandmother tried to kill me one Christmas morning.” Woah, let’s not scare anyone here, and what clickbait.
“The meaning behind my first tattoo.” That’s way too personal, no way.
How do my editors choose what to write about? They make it seem so easy, their writing style effortless and their stories so well written. Every column I’ve read, I would’ve never been able to come up with a topic so interesting.
Don’t mess this up.
Sometimes it feels like anxiety overwhelms every part of me, paralyzing my decision-making and over-analyzing each moment that ticks by. But I’d rather never try something new than fail.
Do you really mean that? You try to be so exciting and full of spontaneity, up for anything. But now the spotlight’s on you. What will you do? Everyone’s watching. Everyone’s reading.
Don’t mess this up.
I have to pick a topic that not only wholly represents who I am, but will impress others and still be completely original and unique. I set this standard for myself.
Don’t mess this up.
Why do I expect so much from myself? Why can I never let myself make mistakes? How much of my life has been controlled by the fear of not being good enough?
If you stick to what you’re good at, you’ll never show what your weaknesses are. Never showing weakness must mean you only project your strengths. If people always see your strengths, they will only believe the facade you hide behind.
This facade isn’t really you, though, is it? Like those strange mirrors in fun houses, they change your appearance to fit inside its frame. You step back, to the side, get up close. The mirror reflects back all sorts of images of you, but it changes as you place yourself in a different space. It’s only a mere reflection highlighting certain parts of yourself — the parts of yourself you wish to accentuate.
Don’t mess this up. I’m trying not to. What a cage I’ve put myself in.
I constantly try to remind myself that someone out there may feel the same way as I do like they’re holding the key and still trapped. In many ways, I think we all hold a key (or several keys) that would let us out of our self-constructed cages, but we’re scared to leave a cell that’s become so familiar and comfortable for us.
At some point, you have to walk away from the mirror. At some point, you have to use that key. You have to make that jump, step out of your comfort zone and try something new.
This is the first inside column I’ve ever written. I hope it was good enough. No, I hope it was great.
The views of this Inside Column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.