Tag Archives: confidence

The difference a year makes


What a year in weeklies  looks like.

What a year in weeklies looks like.

On August 5th, 2014 a young Midwesterner came to the southern Appalachian Mountains fresh out of college to start off what he hoped to be a successful writing career.

The first couple of months were a blur of course. After spending the last 23 years of his sheltered life under his parents roof, he was now juggling how to write articles and take photos on top of learning about the downside of student loans, how to balance a budget, how to “cook” and …

I could spend this time telling you the entire story but I think that would be rather boring. After all what I did was nothing special, but I’m still proud of the fact I made it a whole year on my own considering where I started.

The truth is I wish my past year was the fairy tale story about the rookie reporter who came to town and unearthed some deep seated corruption, but it was nothing of the sort. In fact, it was probably the exact opposite. Needless to say I got a serious wake up call from many departments of realty.

Obviously in the past year I’ve learned a lot about being a reporter: learning how to write, taking printable photos, finding out what’s newsworthy, developing sources etc. I’m well aware it will take a long time before I am a master of my craft. More importantly, however, I’ve learned some more important lessons not just about work, but life in general.

Not the least of which is how to take a proper beating to your ego. Naively I entered the job thinking I would have some sort of small town celebrity status by being the reporter and a northerner. Hahaha, that didn’t exactly come to fruition the same way it did in my mind. I’ve never considered myself as a guy with a big ego but opening my writing up to the public firing squad for critique did sting a bit.

This past year I can say I’ve dealt with a lot of growing pains with very little, if any, signs of reward from it. I felt as if every time I did something good I got a kick to the crotch from something else that put me right back down. Every time I needed a moral victory I just couldn’t get it. It was incredibly frustrating to say the least.

The give up button was dangling right in front of my face. I missed my friends and family (still do) and my continued frustrations only added kindling. The feeling would come and go, each time stronger than the last. It would’ve been so easy to just throw in the towel.

But I didn’t give up. I somehow said no to the beast every time. Enduring the growing pains has only made me a better as a journalist and reporter. The only way to get better is through failure and by giving up on this job I would’ve gave up any hope of living a life not dictated by fear as so many people do.

Lately I’ve had to do something I’ve never really done in my life: believe in myself. I’ve had to believe I’m doing the right thing and that one day will be my day. As long as I’m putting in the work to better myself, no matter how smaller an improvement, the opinions of others don’t matter.

Looking back I can say I’m a better person than I was a year ago. I’m more humbled for sure but my willpower and confidence are better than ever before. In fact, confidence was a foreign concept to me before I took the step to leave everything I had ever known and loved to start a brand new life. Now I feel unbreakable. The worst is over and nothing is going to stop me.

It is my belief success is really just having a strong work ethic combined with the will not to give up. It just takes time.

Here’s to another year.


Goals for Fall


I’m ready to get back up and fight for what I want.

I’m finally back after another long hiatus. I enjoyed my trip to California and have one week of school behind me. I’m also in a much better state than I was in my last post. I realized that I need to make some change in my life. I wanted to take this time to write down some of the goals I have for the fall semester as well as for the remainder of the year. I divided them up into three categories: school goals, new habits, and skills I want to improve on.

School Goals

Get A’s in all my classes.

I’m sure I’m not the only person that shares this goal. This one is pretty self-explanatory. There is no reason why I can’t get a 4.0 this semester, other than laziness.

Look into graduate school.

I think this might be a long shot but I don’t want to say it’s impossible. It’s more of a question of finding a way to pay for it than anything. It would be nice to stay in school for another two years and hone my skills but it would also be nice to give the workforce a shot. I’m on the fence but one thing is for sure. I don’t want to enter the workforce without at least giving graduate school serious consideration. If there ever was a time to go for it now would be it.

New Habits

Read…beyond homework.

I’ve added a new section to the blog labeled recommended books. The list is small right now but it will continue to grow over time. I’ve really been wanting to get back into reading. I haven’t read religiously since middle school. I started back up this spring. Surprisingly, it was pretty rough at first. I couldn’t concentrate and it took me forever to read a page. Now I can already tell my reading skills have increased and even to some extent my writing ability. I’m trying to focus my attention on books about self-improvement, life, etc. I want to expand my knowledge. Not everything has to be learned by a teacher in a classroom.

Eat right.

For about the past year I would say on average I eat out almost everyday. Not only is this expensive but it is also not very healthy. I wouldn’t say I eat like garbage every time I do eat out but I know I need to change my eating habits. This will probably be the hardest habit to break as my school and work schedule make it very hard to cook. I started reading The Ultramind Solution by Mark Hyman. The book talks about the importance of the food we put in our bodies and how it effects everything in the body including the brain. After I read the book I hope to have a basis for a better diet plan.

Meditate

I’ve been meditating for fifteen minutes every morning for the past couple of days. It’s something that I do need to work on but so far I’ve been sticking to it. I do feel some marked improvement in my attention as well as other areas. The important thing for me right now is to develop a habit of meditating everyday, no exceptions.

Skills I Want to Improve

  • Confidence
  • Agressiveness
  • Networking
  • Communication
  • Speech

And Most Importantly…

Take action!

None of these will happen if I sit around and dream them to become true. I’ve got to work on achieving them every day.

Good luck to everyone on achieving your own goals!


I Am My Own Worst Enemy


I have been walking through this trail in the woods of life. When I say trail I do mean trial, a safe trail, a well-walked trial. I’ve seen many people walk this trail and many people make it out safely. I may have ventured off the trail from time to time but never strayed too far away. This trail is all I know. I come across a fork in the road with two paths. One path looks safe, nice, and also…boring. The also path looks extremely dangerous but also looks much more exciting. I decide to take the risky path but someone stands in my way. Who is it? It’s me. My shy risk-free guardian angel.

“Can you excuse me I’d like to take this path,” I say.

“Uh….s-sorry. I ca-can’t let you. Sorry,” Shy Andrew mumbles while looking down at the ground avoiding eye contact at all costs.

“But I want to go on this path,” I say. “I’m tired of walking down this path. It’s boring.”

“Bu-but you never took the risky path before,” says Shy Andrew. “It could be d-dangerous.”

“Yeah you’re right,” I reluctantly say. “It’s too risky. Besides, I’ve been shy my entire life. What would people think if I just changed overnight?” I continue to walk down the safe trail.

“A-aren’t you glad I’m lo-looking out for you,” says Shy Andrew.

“Yeah…”

This is what happens every time I am presented with an opportunity to better myself. At least that’s what used to happen. I’m only 22 years old but I can’t even begin to list the amount of opportunities that I’ve had in my short life that I’ve missed. Not because of money issues or other obligations. I was simply too afraid to take the risk. How many questions I didn’t get answered because afraid to ask them? How many relationships I could have enjoyed but was too afraid to talk? How many jobs, internships, and scholarships I could have gotten if I took the extra effort and followed up on them with a simply phone call? I don’t even want to know the answers to these questions. The funny thing is these shouldn’t even be defined as risks. A risk involves making a sacrifice. What is my sacrifice here? Vibrating my vocal chords? All of these opportunities involved minimal risk and almost unlimited benefits.

I realize that I have the potential to be great. I’m very fortunate that I was raised in a nurturing family that supported me emotionally and financially. I am fortunate to have been born in a country where basic needs are abundant and opportunity is everywhere. I realize that there are many people on this planet that would kill to have the opportunities I have. I am in a position to do whatever I want to do with my life. There is only one person holding me back. Myself. I’m glad I realized this when I was 22 instead of 82. I still have a time to turn this around. To rid of Shy Andrew and live the life I want to.

Someday I hope to be a reporter, preferably an investigative reporter. The type that digs into the evils of corporate and government corruption. I realize that social anxiety and investigative journalism do not mix. After all, how do I expect to expose the tightly knit secrets of government corruption if I can’t even make eye contact with the cashier at Wendy’s? So one has to go: my dreams or my shyness. When you put it that way it’s a very easy decision to make.

How am I doing this? I do it by confronting my fear head on. I took up an internship this winter at my local paper. I’m not tasked with anything big. Just the small stuff like a new museum exhibit, local business has a birthday, etc. At first it was hard. I was violently shaking during my first interview. I was so worried about screwing up I didn’t even listen to what the person was saying. St-stuttering and putting an “um” between every other word when I asked a question. It was pretty bad. By the time I was writing my fourth article I was much more calm. I could get past the stupid stuff like my social anxiety and focus on the people and what they were saying. Then something else started to happen. My normal everyday conversations got better. Talking to the cashier at Wendy’s isn’t so hard after talking to a CEO of a company. It’s only been two months since I started reporting but I’m light years away from where I was. I’ve decided to continue writing for the paper through spring. Hopefully it will be even longer than that. One of the reasons I loving reporting is it makes me face my fear and deal with it instead of avoiding it. What’s life if you don’t challenge yourself? A well-walked trail.

I used to think my shyness was incurable. I was set in my mind that I was never going to be the person I wanted to be. Then again I also thought I’d never get out of my horrible fast food job, never squat more than 300 pounds, and never own a nice car and I’ve done all of those in the past year. It’s 99% percent mindset and 1% outside factors. I’m starting to see that there might be a cure to my shyness, awkwardness, and anxiety. I heavy dose of man up.

Do whatever you want and don’t let anyone, especially yourself, get in the way.


8 Easy Tips to Improve Your Self-Esteem


I’m sure most of you have seen these top whatever lists everywhere on the Internet. I know I have. My goal here was to try and separate the ones that have worked for me from the ones that didn’t. Here’s a couple of things that I started implementing in the past year that have  bolstered my self-esteem. Most of these changes are relatively easy and affordable and you can start doing them immediately. The most important thing is to stay consistent and make these a habit.

#1 – Treat Your Body Like Everything Else You Love

Do you love your car? Your house? Your guitar? If you do I’m assuming that you take good care of it. You make sure it doesn’t get damaged. You don’t abuse it or neglect it. Why should your body be any different than this. How can you have high self-esteem if you can’t even treat your body right? The two go hand in hand.

#2 – Take Supplements

Make sure you are getting the right nutrients everyday. You should try to get as much as you can in your normal diet but it can be hard to do so. That’s where supplements come in. I would suggest three key supplements everyone should take: Fish oil, Vitamin D, and a regular daily multivitamin.

Fish oil is obvious. There is no reason why anyone shouldn’t be taking it. It’s relatively cheap and the benefits more than pay for it. Increased joint, cardiovascular, brain, and eye health are just some of the more well known benefits. Fish oil has also been shown to increase concentration and reduce symptoms of depression.

Vitamin D is another important supplement to take not only for your physical well being but  mentally as well. Vitamin D is pretty much involved with everything in your body including bones, immune system, and mental health. Vitamin D deficiency is directly related to depression. Your body naturally produces Vitamin D if exposed to around an hour of sunlight a day. The problem is some people have trouble getting enough sunlight with their lifestyle. So if you spend a lot of time outdoors great. If not, consider taking a Vitamin D supplement or better yet go outside.

You can also take a multivitamin if you want. It will help cover for other nutrients that you are not getting enough of in your regular diet. This doesn’t mean you can eat fast food everyday and expect a vitamin to save you. Get your nutrients through your diet first.

#3 – Sleep

Sleep is another no-brainer when it comes to improving your health. Sleep will help repair not only your body but also your brain. A regular adult should be getting around eight hours of sleep every night. It also helps if you have a set bedtime everyday. Your body responds well to having a regular sleep schedule.

#4 – Body Language 

This is key and possibly was the hardest thing on the list for me to get over. Maintain eye contact, speak clearly, keep your head up, chest up, and back straight. This will seem very weird and unnatural at first but eventually you will do these things automatically without thinking. It was hard for me at first. I always mumbled, looked down at the ground, and slouched. Having good body language will radiate confidence. Just take a look around next time you are in a public setting. Observe the people that demonstrate these positive signs of body language. Then look at the people who are walking around with their hands in their pockets staring at the ground. You easily tell who is living their life the way they want to and who isn’t.

#5 – Improve Your Wardrobe

This goes along the lines of taking care of your body. The paint is peeling of your house. What do you do? Paint it. Same thing should apply to your body. I always wore the same thing every day: sneakers, jeans, and the graphic T-shirt of the day. If I was feeling ambitious I would put on a hoodie. Over the past year I have definitely diversified my wardrobe. I’ve notice a huge improvement in my confidence simply by wearing a nice button-up shirt to school as opposed to when I wear my three year old Myrtle Beach T-Shirt. Building a wardrobe does take time so don’t rush out and empty your bank account. Also don’t follow some cookie cutter way of fashion. You can dress to match your personality just dress nicely. Make sure you wear something comfortable that also makes you feel good about yourself.

#6 – Set Achievable Short, Medium, and Long Term Goals

This is one of those tips that’s on everyone’s list in some shape or form. Make goals that are realistic but not easy either. Having goals helps give your life a sense of purpose. There isn’t a better feeling to me than setting a goal and watching it become fulfilled. You should have short-term goals as well as goals for the near future and the distant future. In most cases your short-term goals serve as building block for your ultimate long-term goal.

For example, my short term goals are to pass this quarter of school, cut weight for the summer, and work on my shyness. My goals for the near future include getting my degree, find a job in my field, pay off my debt, and live on my own. My long term goals include becoming an investigative journalist, squat 700 pounds, and travel the world. My ultimate goal is to become the best person that I possibly can.

#7 – Do the Little Things Well

Probably the biggest improvement I’ve seen in myself over the past year is my improved work ethic. Face it. You are not going to be the next Kim Kardashian. You will not become successful overnight by doing nothing. You will have to put in the work to be successful. This means put effort in everything you do including the little things. If the dishes are dirty clean them. If there is an opportunity for extra credit in your class take it. How can you expect to be the head of a Fortune 500 company if you can’t even return your shopping cart to where it’s supposed to go? If you give attention to the little things it leaves you better prepared to handle the big projects.

#8 – Don’t Think About Messing Up

A lot of people with low self-esteem have a similar mindset when they do something. They always try to not mess up and what do they do? They mess it up. Don’t go into something with this mindset. Don’t think about messing up at all. In fact don’t think about it at all. I can’t tell you how many times I have over analyzed something and ended up screwing it up. Most of the time a situation is complicated because you make it out to be that way.

Just Do It™

Just Do It