Tag Archives: shy

Critiquing critique: A blessing in disguise


How to avoid criticism

This isn’t a post about how to deal with criticism. People deal with it in their own way…some more maturely than others. I want to address the benefits of criticism to those lucky enough to step out and welcome it.

Reporters join athletes, leaders, politicians, actors and many many others as members of the public eye. It certainly has its benefits but as the door opens up for all the glory so does the pain.

Of course the public eye is more than your parents, your friends and your little rah-rah group that supported you throughout your life. It’s also made up of people with completely different upbringing, morals, beliefs and standards. It’s not a good or bad thing, it’s just humanity. I’ve dished out my own fair share of criticism. Everyone does.

As I’ve grown into my new job and have gotten over the rookie hurdles, I’m now trying to focus on the quality of the work over simply meeting deadlines and learning how to write. Lately I’ve been taking some hits from the community over my work not being up to par with other papers. I’m surprised how bad it hit me really, but looking back at my life I can see why it did.

I’ve been a hermit my whole life living in a sheltered little bubble. Obviously I’m shy but it goes beyond that. The strategy in my life until lately has been to avoid conflict at all costs. Seems simple, if I avoid conflict and confrontation I can’t be hurt. Of course I also can’t reap any awards. I would only make a move when it was almost 100 percent fail proof, otherwise I wouldn’t do anything. I’ve always been a people pleaser. As long as everyone else was happy I was, but everyone had to be happy or it’d kill me. Everyone had to like me or at least be indifferent about me. If someone messed with me or picked on me I couldn’t comprehend why and it would tear me up inside.

I’m realizing now later in life that negativity has always been there, I’ve just hid myself from it. I realize now even if I do something 100 percent perfect there will still be critic. Even Gandhi has haters.

It took me a while to understand this concept but if I had never stepped up and became a reporter I’m afraid I never would’ve. Part of the reason I became a reporter was to confront all of my fears and demons head-on and this was one of the unexpected ones. I’ve grown more appreciation for the successful athletes and other figures I’ve criticized throughout the years for what they do and what they have to deal with.

I realize now criticism isn’t a curse, it’s really a blessing. Obviously I don’t take everything to heart. However, I do agree with some points my critics make and I do agree I need to make changes. Feedback, both positive and negative, is the only real way your blind spots become exposed and become fixable. The only way to get feedback is to step out and throw your work to the hounds. That’s why I’m thankful for it because I know there are millions of people out there just as I was, too scared to step out. Sure they will never be criticized but they’ll also never be able to improve themselves and be the best they can be.

I’m not telling you to f**k the haters, I’m not telling you to ignore them, I’m not telling you to label them as bullies and do the same thing they do to you. I’m telling you to love them as hard as it may be and accept they will always be there. Channel it into a positive.

Now go on and give this one star.

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Three Months


Linville Gorge looking towards table rock.

Linville Gorge looking towards table rock.

 

I can’t believe it’s been three months since I left home. Since then I’ve covered everything from a power company’s controversial use of herbicides along power lines to folklore tales of legendary mysterious lights seen in this very gorge. I’ve also been able to explore a whole new region of the country. I miss home like crazy but I know what I’m doing is right and there is no turning back.

There are certainly times when I feel like a fish out of water, try all the time actually. With a name like Mundhenk I pretty much scream that I’m clearly not from around here. Things are different here but I’m glad I get to see another side of things, a new culture. I hope I can be a positive impact as a member in this new community.

There are many things I’ve surprised myself with what I’ve been able to do within this short time span, not least of which is the simple fact I’ve survived three months. I treat this like a milestone because it really is. I’ve made it through the roughest part I feel. The initial homesickness, the strange new world. I’ve also learned a lot about myself in the process. How to live alone, how to manage a budget, how to do all the little things my mommy and daddy used to do for me. What has impressed me the most though is walking into a subject I’m covering that I’m completely clueless about and by the time I’m done I’ve learned something completely new. I’ve walked into a story plenty of times wondering how on Earth I’m I going to do this and have somehow managed to do it.

Make no mistake. I’ve had several frustrations and growing pains and continue to do so on a daily basis. My goal for the first three months was to simply make it to this point. Now I’m ready to step up a bit more. I feel like I’ve reached a plateau, and I hate plateaus. I want to step up my interviewing and writing skills even further. I want to crawl out of my shell just a little bit more. I want to follow in the steps of past reporters who have worked here and gone on to do big things. I have so much potential here and It’s up to me to make the most out of this opportunity.

Just have to continue to trust the process.


6 Winter Epiphanies


This winter has been a life changing experience for me. My internship, writing this blog, and reading many insightful books has really opened my eyes to a new light. I can’t believe how much I’ve changed in the past two months. Socially, I am completely different. I can approach people, maintain eye contact, and for the most part speak in an articulate manner without stuttering. My outlook on life has changed as well. I want to learn as much and accomplish as much as I possibly can with my life.

Here is a list of six epiphanies I’ve had this quarter that have changed my life.

The World Isn’t Going to Change Because You Want It To.

I’ve often walked through life thinking that I would do things different. I thought I would beat the system. That I could be shy and shallow and somehow gorgeous women would flock to me and start making out with no questions asked. I thought I could submit a couple of on-line resumes and get hired on the spot. I’m glad I found out sooner than later that the world doesn’t work that way. You get out of life what you put in it.  The world isn’t going to change. Learn to live with it or die a bitter human being.

Don’t Seek Outside Approval. No One Cares.

Last year I had a huge problem with this. Mostly because a lot of good things happened to me and I wasn’t really accustomed to having good thing happen to me. This was especially bad when I got my new job. I gloated about it on Facebook almost every other status update while my former coworkers where still stuck in misery. When I got a new car I mentioned it to almost everyone I met. The same thing happened with my internship. “Look at me I’m writing in the paper.” Soon everything became about me. Facebook in general was just bad for me. I used to write a ton of jokes on there. I would receive tons of likes from them. This positive feedback was feeding my ego. It pretty much dictated how my day was going to go. If I wasn’t getting complemented in the real world or liked in cyberspace I would get depressed. I know it sounds pretty pathetic but that’s the way it was. The truth is no one really cares about your achievements except maybe your close friends and family. Truthfully no one is envious about my used car, my retail job, or the articles I wrote. What’s the author’s name of the last news article you read? That’s what I thought. I’m not saying it’s bad to celebrate good things that happen to you just don’t go overboard with it. Self-improvement should be for your own happiness. You shouldn’t fuel your happiness off other people’s approval.

Get Over The Spotlight Effect.

Shy guys and gals this one is for you.  The spotlight effect is the tendency to believe that other people are paying closer attention to one’s appearance and behavior than they actually are. You wash your hands and you accidentally get water on your crouch. You then spend the next ten minutes pulling your shirt down in hopes no one will see.  It can be even worse than that. For example, I wanted to go shopping at a nice clothing store because I desired to change my wardrobe but all I had were my crappy clothes. I was scared to death to enter the store. I was afraid that people would laugh because I didn’t look like them. It really got to the point where everything I did, everything I said, every action I made people were watching me and judging me.

In short, stop thinking that people care because they really don’t. Do you care if someone spilled their coffee? Are you going to laugh at them? Do you care that the person next to you in class wore the same shirt twice in one week? Do you care about what other people at the mall are doing, saying, wearing? No and they don’t care about you either. You are an extra in their life as they are an extra in yours. Think about this the next time you’re in a public setting. It will help.

Don’t Give a F**k.

I cannot stress this enough. Don’t get me wrong, there are plenty of things you should give a f**k about. Just stop caring about the little insignificant things. Stop caring what people say/think about you and most importantly stop over-analyzing everything. If you want to say something don’t wait for it to pass through the Senate and the House in your brain. Just say it. If you sound stupid don’t worry about it. Chances are the person you were talking was so worried about what they were going to say they didn’t even hear you. Don’t dwell on the conversation later that night. Don’t let the small things ruin your day.

Be Yourself…..Seriously.

This message gets pelted into people’s heads on a daily basis that I think we’ve kind of ignored it but it’s so true. It’s a shame that many people never really realize this. People can see when you are being someone else. I have this weird problem whenever I watch a movie or a T.V. show I start acting like one of the characters. Why I have no idea. Maybe because I think they are cooler than me and if I act like them I will be cool. I will act like them, talk like them, have the same facial expressions, etc. This fails miserably every time I do it. When I act the way I want to everything is better. There are fake people everywhere. Life is too short to live someone else’s life (unless you’re an actor of course).

It Isn’t About How You Fail. It’s About How You Respond Afterwards. 

“I’ve often said that man’s character is not judged after he celebrates a victory but by what he does when his back is against the wall.” -John Cena

This winter has changed me a lot but I can’t say that it would’ve happened if everything went according as planned. I hyped up this winter so much. I thought this would be the quarter that I would make new friends and my social life would finally balloon. I thought my friend and I would get back into lifting and I could make some gains. This didn’t happen. I continued to be the same shy guy I always was. I was really disappointed with my first few articles because I was too worried about my social anxiety and talking to sources rather than focusing on what they had to say. My friend was so swamped with schoolwork that I couldn’t go over to his place to life. It basically resulted in me spending five days out of my week at home, alone doing nothing. If it was former pre-2011 self I would’ve got depressed and spent the entire time video games. Instead I took advantage of my solitude. I started a blog. I started reading…a lot. I became a sponge absorbing all the information I could get. I worked on improving the quality of my articles. I started lifting at school and my house instead. Sure it wasn’t the same but it was better than not lifting at all. Now I’m stronger, smarter, and more inspired than ever. It may be hard but always try to make a positive out of something negative. Don’t give in to it.

In Conclusion…

I just wanted to say thank you for everyone that has read/commented/liked my blog. Writing this has helped me grow a lot. Mostly it has helped me enforce that I am practicing what I preach. I hope it has helped you as well. Good luck to all of you with your dreams and 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.