Summer Break, Week #8

I spent the 8th week of summer break at the ASNE Reynolds Journalism Institute for High School Teachers.

I may have gotten all the official titley stuff out of order, but there it is anyway.
I was selected for the week at Kent State (I could’ve been selected to UT-Austin or ASU), and the most heartbreaking part of being at Kent State was being so close to my friends in Bowling Green, Ohio and completely unable to sneak in a visit to them. 
I learned many things at Kent State, which I will probably blog about at some point in time, but not today. No, today, instead, I will blog about a lesson I’ve learned about myself over and over again, that my friend Sarah first helped me articulate many years ago: I can do hard things.
I am an introvert by nature. Case in point: it is 11:40 a.m. as I write this, still unshowered and in P.J.s, and I have zero desire or need to venture out into the land where people interact. I am completely happy with a laptop to write and books to read close by. And Hulu and Netflix, of course.
I tend to forget my introverted nature when applying for opportunities that I see as prestigious or enriching. I forget (until the day of) the anxiety and difficulties that will occur when accepted to those opportunities. Present at a statewide technology conference? Sure! Spend five weeks traipsing about New England with 20 strangers? Why not? Go to Kent State for a week and actually do journalism instead of teach it? What could possibly go wrong? Apply! Apply! Apply!
Summer Break Week #8 was mentally and physically exhausting. As Deanne told me, after hearing me complain on the first day, I was in the quadrangle of despair. Heat, humidity, lots of walking with plantar fasciitis, and an assignment to talk to random strangers about their coffee experiences in downtown Kent had me pretty wound up.
But as usually happens in my life, I looked around and realized I was surrounded by people who wanted me to succeed. From the instructors at the institute to the people in my group and even beyond (my newspaper editor sent me long-distance encouragement), I wasn’t set up to fail. Yes, I had to take a couple deep breaths and gather my courage. A lot of courage. But the social anxiety was mostly short-lived, and in the end, I was pretty proud of what I and my team created.
So Summer Break Week #8 was actually quite good in a variety of ways, not the least of which was connecting with so many journalism advisers across the country who inspired me, made me laugh, and commiserated with me. 
And now, I have to go, because while I was writing this, a friend asked me if I’d join her for lunch. 
Now is as good a time as any to ditch the P.J.s for the day.

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