Sometimes, it really is necessary for a reality check.
About a month ago, my boss took me out to a low-income high school to talk to the new journalists students there, since we are funding their journalism program as they start it up again after many years without one. There are two high schools that we are supporting.
And I never had any sort of journalism program in middle or high school, so I was very excited for everything, but then we get there and I realized that it seems like many of the students could care less if they were in journalism or history. They pay little attention to their journalism adviser but when my no-nonsense boss steps up, a high school teacher of 19 years, they snap to and actually pay attention and participate a little. She regales them with tales of her old journalism students, the importance of journalism and a little bit of the basics.
Second time around, a couple weeks later, we met the class in one of the school computer labs and they are even more distracted. A few minutes into my boss’s talk for that class and several students still aren’t paying attention. Two girls are even shoe-shopping, completely oblivious to the world. Suffice to say, my boss wasn’t exactly thrilled. Other students were walking in and out of the classroom, whether or not they were even part of the class.
It all really upset me too. But I realize that what bugged me the most about it was that my high school had been the same. We had disrespectful down to a point. But we also knew to value those few good teachers that came through every once in a while, and knew when we had an unusual opportunity presented to us.
While there are now many interested kids in that class of about 20 students, it still astounds and frustrates me how much they are in their own world. If I had been offered the chance of a journalism program at my school, I would have been ecstatic.
When I first got into the journalism program at the University of Oregon, I felt so intimidated by all the freshman that already had several years of journalism under their belt from high school. But now I’m right up there with some of the best in my area at Allen Hall, getting to shoot really cool independent projects that get published online, and I have this cool internship, because I took advantage of everything that was offered to me.
It all depends on how you use it. So never overlook your resources, and how much support you have if you just turn around and ask. Don’t forget to value everything you have right now, because you might not always have it. If you don’t take advantage of it now, how are you ever going to get anywhere? It’s not going to be handed to you on a silver platter.
So it’s important sometimes, to take a step back and realize how lucky you really are.