The Wake Up Call

Wake Up Call

Welcome to the first post on my blog everyone! Ideally, I wanted this to be something more comedic or random because I could not possibly live my life without those two factors. And by the way, if you’re wondering what in the world this site is, head over to my “about my blog” page. Also keep in mind that I’m still working out the kinks to the place.

Anyway, something happened recently I was not at all expecting. It all started with a breakdown I had via my Instagram – and for future reference, don’t have a breakdown via my, er, your Instagram.

My awesome friends from The Pine Log, Stephen F. Austin State University’s student newspaper, were going to a state competition from Wednesday, April 8 to Saturday, April 11. I was the editor-in-chief of the paper from August 2014 to December 2014 during my last semester of college. I couldn’t be there with them for a few different reasons – not to mention I was also eligible to win awards for being editor-in-chief despite already graduating – so I thought for that Thursday, I would throw up a picture of me with two awards I had won from the previous competition, which was, and still is, a huge deal for me.

Instead of a quick “#TBT Me at #TIPA last year. I wish I could be there with my amigos” post, I began to have all of these thoughts in my head, and, well, I had a meltdown.

My last semester of college probably isn’t what you would call my finest hours. I spent all day, every day giving myself bountiful stress over two things: Constantly thinking I was a crappy editor-in-chief for The Pine Log, and being scared shitless of the real world ahead of me.

I didn’t live out my last semester with a bang like I originally pictured because of these two things. I was too depressed to have a desire to hang out with my friends more often, go to parties or spend more time with my family from Nacogdoches, something I always love to do.

During this time, I also trained for a half marathon from scratch – and with horrible health – within a two to three month frame because I previously had a great experience during a visit to Colorado, not to mention I wanted to boost my confidence and mentality post graduation. I even wrote a column about it for The Pine Log to try and inspire others, a column I also received many compliments on, but in the end, I choked because I couldn’t swallow my own words.

Cousins

My cousins from Nacogdoches and I after we finished the East Texas Half Marathon.

Once the semester ended and graduation passed, it wasn’t until more than a solid month before I applied for a job, and even with all of the incredibly hard work I put into being the best member of the media I could be, it wasn’t a media job. I was too scared to dive into the deep end, so I applied for a retail job with the idea of easing myself into what a real job would be like since I’ve never had one. I’ve been deeply angry at myself all this time because I know retail is not where I belong, and yet, here I am.

I’ve had the mentality for a few years now that if I can’t go into something without giving my all and then some, then I shouldn’t do it, which is part of the reason I haven’t applied for jobs yet, but it was more than that. This paralyzing fear at the thought of failure sewn into my head with the most piercing of needles combined with me stubbornly believing I was a horrid editor-in-chief has prevented me from applying to any jobs that can even slightly be labeled as “media” – exempting a Game Informer internship I applied for, but even that took everything I had in me to do despite being part of my dream job and ultimate career goal.

With all of that said, I felt like I let my friends, mentors and family down, the people who so firmly believed in me. Some I have talked to me about this before have assured I haven’t let them down, but I feel like I haven’t given them the justice they deserved. I know. I shouldn’t care what others think, but when good people, people you care about, put their faith in you, it propels you to go beyond infinity.

Well, on Saturday, April 11, the final day of the journalism competition had arrived. The last day is an award ceremony telling each college what they won at both on-site competitions and for their newspaper throughout the calendar year. I was sitting in the break room at work taking a 10-minute break as I usually do halfway through my sets of shifts. I received a text from one of my good friends, who was also the editor-in-chief before I was, telling me I won an honorable mention for a headline I wrote. The story was a press release we put on the front page talking about the increase in student enrollment at SFA, so I quickly came up with a pun: “This is how we Enroll.” Hehehe…

With this news, I sat there and thought, “Well… I guess that’s pretty cool?” So I cracked a little joke about it, and then asked how everyone else was doing at the competition. This is when I got the most unexpected reply back.

Text

I couldn’t believe what I had just read. I think I read the text about six times before I realized what it said: For the year 2014, our newspaper, the newspaper I ran for half that time, was essentially named the best Division 2 college paper in the state, the state of mother freakin’ Texas.

For a brief moment, I was in a place of incredulity. My family, friends and mentors always tried to help me and tell me I was doing a great job for my first time – and last time – as editor-in-chief, but I never once believed them. I honestly thought they were saying these things out of pity, and because of how strongly I believed there was no way I was doing any kind of good. I also constantly compared myself to some of my friends, ones who have tremendous talent as journalism students and much of my respect. I felt like my abilities highly paled to theirs.

But earning this award liberated me from all of that. Even after realizing what I read in that text, I couldn’t believe it was happening. Admittedly, I couldn’t hold back from shedding a few tears – mind you they were manly tears – and shaking a little while I was in the break room, but not because I was sad. For one of the few times in my life, they were tears of joy, from an overwhelming happiness that freed me from my own chains of negativity, disbelief and low self-esteem I’ve had since August 2014, and really, even before that.

Though I went through inner hell with myself, it has taught me a lot. If people tell me something, or perhaps offer me wise words of wisdom pushing me to where I need to be, I should just listen to it and take it at face value more often.

With that said, I want to apologize to my family and friends who have constantly gone through the thick with me. You know who you are, and I can’t imagine how much of a pain in the ass I have been with my self-loathing and constant negativity.

There’s nothing I can do to erase that and the things I haven’t done at this point. The only thing I can truly promise is this: I will move forward, and whether I am applying for a media job, or simply trying to get through the day in a positive manner, I will try my best.

This whole ordeal has truly been a wake up call.

To close this post, the song above is called Let It All Out, and even if anime isn’t your thing, I implore you to give it a listen. It was originally sung in Japanese, and acted as the second ending song to the amazing anime called Fullmetal Alchemist Brotherhood. I was just messing around on my computer recently and needed something to listen to. I was originally looking for the Japanese version, but I saw an English iteration in the search results and checked it out. Somebody took the original background music and added their own English translation and lyrics, and it’s a beautiful – a word I don’t use often mind you – song that really speaks to what I have gone through these past several months. It’s also a fantastic listen in general.


Robbie Key is the chief warden of robbiekeyv.wordpress.com. He is also the Nintendo editor for Analog Addiction, makes occasional videos for his YouTube channel, and if you happen to stumble upon this page and are looking for new media members, check out my LinkedIn profile.

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