I was recording myself practicing for my Spanish presentation when I got the notification. I don’t remember turning my ringer on, but halfway through my speech on the corruption of the Guatemalan government, it went off. In the video you see me pick up my phone, read the notification, and my mouth falls open. If someone were to ask me how many likes I thought I had on my website, I would have told them a number around 20.
I’ve always wanted to be a writer. When I was in fifth grade, my parents gave me this old Lenovo laptop that couldn’t even connect to the internet but it had Microsoft Word and Adobe InDesign and that was all I needed. We took a lot of road trips when I was a kid, and I spent every minute of those long drives typing away on my Lenovo computer. I wrote about anything and everything, from the craziest fiction stories about flamingos helping to break elephants out of zoos to journalistic pieces about my opinions on world conflicts when I was probably far too young to be watching the news.
When I got to finally attend in-person college my sophomore year I immediately joined the university newspaper and after a semester of writing two to three articles religiously for them, the editor-in-chief asked me to be a section editor in the spring semester. I was ecstatic, and writing and working with the newspaper reinstilled my love for writing. My university doesn’t have a big English program, and our newspaper is quickly depleting. In March, I reached out to a man who used to be a foreign correspondent for National Geographic who has since written a book on his experience and works as a journalism professor in Texas.
I’ve always been someone who will just ask anybody for anything if I think they can help me. I got an internship with Tulsa’s minor league hockey team because I emailed the head of marketing and asked if I could shoot some games. I got my internship over the summer by emailing the CEO my resume and asking if he wanted an intern, and I started working with the fashion magazine in Madrid because when they reached out to ask if they could use my video, I asked if I could shadow their photographer for a shoot. I’m currently enrolled in a photography class that overlaps my Spanish class by 20 minutes just because I asked the photography professor if I could schedule it as an independent study and come in late to class. I’ve had some of my dopest experiences in life just because I sent a random email to the right person with a request. In the words of Kris Jenner, I’m a big supporter of “just call[ing] Taylor up”.
So that’s what I did with this professor in Texas. I scavenged my school and didn’t find any journalism professors, so I started researching online, and he agreed to speak with me. Toward the end of our Zoom, I started telling him about my university, “We have a school newspaper, but it’s not seen as very important by the school. It’s a STEM school so we don’t have many English classes and there are no journalism classes. I’m worried that since I don’t have a formal education in journalism, it will put me behind most other people wanting the same jobs I do.”
He scoffed a little when I said it, in a good-hearted way. “These students can sit in a classroom and learn the right way to lead an article all four years and still not be good journalists. The only way you become a good journalist is by reading good journalism, reading a lot of it, and writing. If you want to be a foreign correspondent, then go to another country and write, show them that you can do it because you already have done it.”
Obviously, I took those words to heart. I was already registered for Madrid the following semester by then. When school ended and I moved to start my summer internship, I didn’t have the newspaper to write with anymore but wasn’t quite in Madrid yet. One night I stayed up far later than I should have to create a website on WordPress. I was exhausted the next day and had to get up and walk to the bathroom every hour at work to keep myself away, but my plan was finally coming into action.
I created the website in July of 2022, right after my 20th birthday. It’s odd how democratized almost every creative profession is now. If my parents had wanted to publish their writing when they were my age, they would have had to pitch their ideas to a publishing company or newspaper. I just watched Youtube tutorials on WordPress website building. Now we have the technology and reach through social media to do so many things that would have warranted a contract or backing from someone else to do in the past. Artists are releasing music on Spotify and advertising them by themselves, directors are filming movies on their iPhones and publishing them on Youtube for almost no cost, and writers like me are flooding the internet with self-publishing. Growing up in this age of technology and social media can be extremely hard in some scenarios, but it also gives us so many opportunities at our fingertips.
While I was traveling I would find a cafe, export my photos, and write for a while. Whenever something interesting happened to me, I’d write it down in a hand-binded notebook to come back to later. Living in Madrid and being able to travel so prolifically gave me great insight into what my life might look like if I truly had my dream career.
When I arrived back at my home University, it came as a shock to me that I was already a second-semester junior. The pandemic and my time abroad have boggled my concept of time. Sometimes I wake up early in the morning still thinking I’m a senior in high school, sometimes I wish I could be graduated already and out of the school system, but most of the time my mind is aimlessly floating somewhere around a sophomore in college. In some ways, I feel being a second-semester junior is almost more nervewracking than being a senior looking to start their real career at the end of the school year. As a junior, you’re anxious with anticipation, like when you go into the doctor’s office to get a shot and you’re waiting for her to come in and prick you. When the prick happens it’s never that bad, not as bad as those minutes of waiting beforehand.
So in all the beforehand anxiety, I’ve been realizing that continuing this website, in whatever capacity that might entail, would be what I actually want to do. Whether it’s under the name of Little Girl, Big World or it’s for another publication, just being able to write about things I’m passionate about and share them with other people.
I suppose what I’m trying to get across, short story long, is that I appreciate the likes, writing for this website is one of my favorite things to do and that people will be reading what I write far into the future.
Leave a Reply