Tag Archives: list

Reflection experience optimum in the summer

With June complete, I feel an inevitable wave of reflection. Fear not, though, I won’t launch into an extended, sugary monologue about how much I love “SUMMERRRRR <3” (to quote the title of a teenage Facebook album that, thankfully, has since entered the digital graveyard).

Rather, summer provides a time to reflect on what I’ve learned. Without the chaos of exams, essays, applications (and the incessant fear that another Drake squirrel will leap at me from his fortress inside a campus trashcan), reflection is more organic and less fragmented this time of year.

Between working in the communications department at the Science Center of Iowa and freelancing for The Des Moines Register, I’ve embraced versatility and variety this summer. Along the way, I’ve learned a lot about journalism and perhaps more importantly, about myself. And since I’m not yet ready to break my streak of list-style op-eds, here are three things I’ve learned this summer.

Don’t limit yourself. While I admit I first thought of chocolate chip cookie dough ice cream when I wrote that tagline, I’m talking about my journalistic focus. When I began my Drake University career, I had my mind and heart set solely on a bigwig career at a fancy, metropolitan daily newspaper.

I didn’t need to learn any of that digital business. I was already en route to a print-exclusive career defined by fame and fortune!

The Drake School of Journalism and Mass Communication has pushed me outside the cozy, familiar realm of ink-stained palms and red pens, though, and I’ve realized the scope of the big, beautiful media world in which I thrive.

This summer, for instance, I’m producing and editing video, running a Pinterest account, writing and managing a website — all in the PR field. A world I never imagined I’d experience.

Don’t forget what motivated you at the beginning. And while I’ve enjoyed dabbling in a new field and delving into the digital world, I haven’t forgotten what drew me to journalism in the first place: sports writing for print.

In my work freelancing at The Des Moines Register, I get the chance to re-experience what I loved about playing prep sports in Iowa: the hometown pride and the state’s rich, highly competitive athletic culture. And I admit I’ll never tire of seeing my name in print.

Write every day. I heard it again and again growing up, but I only recently realized the merit of that advice. Whether I’m crafting a quirky caption for a pin or detailing another traumatizing squirrel incident, writing daily helps me process the minutiae of life and develop my voice.

Besides, I may never again have the opportunity to write about squirrels, ice cream and “minutiae” in a connected manner.

How-to-live ‘listicles’ offer stale, generic advice

I can’t resist a good listicle. You know, that literary gem about the “20 Most Important Sloths You’ll Ever Witness” or the life-changing “15 Biggest Cat Moments in YouTube History.” But every time I surf the Internet for my daily helping of cute-animal entertainment, I’m hounded by my least favorite type of listicle.

And no, I’m not referring to the “20 Least Important Sloths You’ll Ever Witness.” I mean the dreaded 20-something how-to-live listicle. Every time I scroll through my Twitter feed, at least five “[Insert arbitrary number] Things Every Girl Should Do In Her Twenties” listicles appear, providing the conclusive handbook for the next nine years of my life.

But frankly, I’m done glancing at them with the inevitable eye-roll and audible groan. Today, I’m fighting back (all right, more like ranting back) about the inclination of nearly every web writer to inform me what I have to do in the next decade.

The 20-something how-to-live listicle employs a one-size-fits-all approach in processing life milestones. Suddenly, landmarks like living on your own, traveling abroad and quitting a terrible job are equally beneficial and impactful for all 20-somethings. Though they initially appear inspiring and informed (seeing as they’re usually written by some wistful 30-something), age-specific, how-to-live listicles generalize and trivialize.

My stubborn side is probably coming through as usual, but I’m a big believer in the freedom to make my own mistakes. Now, I don’t mean I’m living my 20s in pursuit of grievous errors and subsequent regret. Rather, I’d like the freedom to make mistakes organically and learn from them in a way catered to my life and future.

The 20-something how-to-live listicle provides a ready-made conclusion about the impact some experience or error should inevitably have. Please let me make my own mistakes on my own timeline, and more importantly, please give me the freedom to reach my own conclusion.

Clearly, if you read the post before this one, I’m all about unanswered questions as a means of self-growth and reflection. Twenty-something how-to-live listicles strip life experiences of their innate ambiguity. Sometimes, a conclusion or sweeping statement of growth and learning simply doesn’t exist. Sometimes, the uncertainty is productive in its own unexpected way.

So, this summer, the only listicle I need is the “25 Most Important Hedgehog Moments This Week.” Or the even more important “10 New Ice Cream Flavors to Try This Summer.” If you write that listicle, I swear I won’t groan or roll my eyes.