Missed Opportunity

As a recent college graduate with a degree in communications major I dream of becoming a successful journalist and there are many worthy professionals that I look up to in the field. One of those people is journalist, Lisa Ling. Ever since I was in high school I have admired her ambition and courage. She seems to truly empathize with the situations of those she’s interviewing. Ms. Ling actually inspired me to join my high school news team when I was a sophomore and I have steadily pursued the journalism field ever since. Even though my focus has changed from news reporting to travel journalism Lisa Ling has had a huge impact on my life.

I’ve watched her report from places such as North Korea with grace and dignity and most recently I watched her standing on a street in New York City with who I presume were her mother and sister. I’ve always said that I would never be star struck if I ever met a celebrity yet I completely froze. I think that’s because seeing her directly in front of me was not like seeing a celebrity. I actually think I could have handled if it were Tom Cruise or Paris Hilton because I wouldn’t care about making a good impression. I’m sure they are used to encountering mumbling idiots as they stroll the streets of Manhattan. Lisa Ling however, was different because I’ve respected her for so long. I didn’t want to just mumble incoherently about how I’m “a fan”.

I can honestly say that I was extremely intimidated by her. This makes me disappointed in myself because intimidation has been my vice for many years (as well as something I thought I’ve conquered quite well).

Today, I consider myself an outgoing person and enjoy talking with people from all walks of life. I see each day as an opportunity to meet new people and never back down from a lively conversation. Yet for some reason I turned into a 13 year old, self-conscious girl when I saw Ms. Ling standing in front of me.

I had no reason to think that she would have been rude or dismissive. She didn’t appear busy or in a rush yet I didn’t even try to at least say hello. Not many people have the opportunity to meet one of their role models and I let the opportunity pass me by.  The only excuse I have is that my nerves got the best of me.

As a fellow journalist I should have had the confidence to present myself as one. Since that missed opportunity I’ve repeated over and over in my head how the conversation may have gone. She may have had some helpful advice for a soon-to-be college graduate hoping to pursue a career in the journalism field. If anything, I could have simply shaken her hand and said hello.

I learned something about my self that afternoon because if you had asked me the day before what I would have done in such a situation I would have been certain that I would have walked up with confidence and introduced myself.

I encourage others to learn from my mistake. You may one day have the opportunity to meet a role model that has inspired you in some way and I hope that you jump at the chance to tell them that. If you don’t you’ll regret it.

For me, this has definitely been a learning experience. If I’m ever lucky enough to have such an opportunity again I’ll have more confidence in myself. At least I hope I will because the one thing I’ve learned from this is that saying you’ll do something and actually doing it are two completely different things.

Published by Ashley Zoerner

I'm originally from New Orleans, LA and grew up in the nearby town of Waveland, MS. I graduated from Georgia State University with a communications degree in 2010. Since then I've traveled the country and world meeting the most interesting people. My dream is to tell people's stories and share my passions with the world.

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