Approach a stranger and ask them if they have a second to talk. Hold your phone microphone up and conduct an interview. Ask if you can take a photo of someone. Then ask them for their full name and email address, thank them, and do this all over again. Sound scary? I thought so too when I first came to journalism school and learned that those were all real things I would have to do.
When I did my first streeter (an interview with a random person on the street), I was really nervous. I remember cringing as I listened back to the audio recording of my first interview; I was talking so quickly it was as if I feared my source would suddenly run away in the middle of the interview (though, judging by my nerves at the time, it was me who was more likely to run away).
It’s only been a few weeks since that day when I did my first streeter, but I have learned so much. Nearly every week, if not multiple times a week, I’ve done some form of a streeter. And it’s gotten so much easier for me—and so much more fun, too.
I wouldn’t say that I’ve completely overcome my nerves about streeters and interviews, but at this point I’ve done enough to know that it always ends up being fine. I’m usually just nervous when I’m thinking about the assignment: when I go out and actually talk to people, I find that I really enjoy it. I had to get through the frightening part, the learning experience, to get to a place where I am more confident.
I’m glad I pushed through that stage of nervousness, though. If I had waited until I felt ready, I’d still be waiting. Sometimes you have to take the leap, and build your wings on the way down (I think Kobi Yamada said that quote, but Google is attributing versions of it to many different people).
As I was on my way to one of my journalism classes yesterday, a saying popped into my head, one that I remember reading on an old Lululemon bag: Do one thing a day that scares you. I’ve always loved the idea of pushing myself to take a little risk each day; and now that I’m in journalism school, I’ve had no shortage of opportunities to take those risks.
Whether I’m approaching someone to ask about their opinion on something, or to ask if they’ll allow me to photograph them for my photojournalism assignment, I am constantly leaping, taking risks and finding my wings on my way down. And, surprisingly enough, I love it.
What did you do today that scared you?