Storytime: Lessons in Proving Yourself.

*This article will be vague in respect to those involved and is not meant to bash anybody. This is simply an example of a situation I learned important things from and want to share!*

A couple years back, I was staying at a very fancy hotel while promoting a popular award show. On the way to said hotel, I received an email from a very famous film company asking if I would be interested in interviewing one of their upcoming movie inspirations for my website. I think I just about died. It was one of the first really cool things I ever got to do in my media career.

The backstage life of a media “professional” is not glamorous, even if you aren’t a teenager! I spent several hours researching questions, information, and perfecting my angles for the interview. Most of this research was done sitting cross-legged on a fancy hotel room bed a few hours before the interview would begin. Although I do tend to procrastinate at times, this late start on research was completely due to the rigid schedule that comes with being on media for events. As I mentioned in my previous blog, sometimes you don’t know an interview is coming until it’s already begun.

I trotted downstairs with my grandpa in tow to meet a professional from the company, the individual, and the individual’s publicist. Immediately I felt professional-suit-man from the film company staring me down. What his brain must have been processing finally hit me: the editor-in-chief had come in a different package than expected. I could just see the “what did we get ourselves into” look in his eyes.. he wasn’t wrong to be thinking it. I was, after all, a 5’3 fourteen-year-old kid. I had also brought my amazing grandpa, who already introduced himself to suit man. But, in lieu of professionalism, he was probably thrown off by this as well. (I really did not care, I’ll bring my grandpa as a travel buddy any day.)

For a brief moment, I felt less than – less than the man staring me down, less than the several other writers who could have used this time block for promotion, etc. Then, I remembered that I had worked hard for this and it was not going to be tainted by professional-suit-man’s dirty looks.

The individual I interviewed quickly warmed up to me and we dove right in. I still remember the chills I received listening to their story. I immediately knew this was going to be a success! Although the sound of coffee grinders filled the background noise on my ample phone recording software, I was miraculously able to jot down every word this individual had spoken after all was said and done. (I have since upgraded my equipment in that department.)

At the end of the interview, I got up and remembered that suit-man was standing in the corner of the room. My grandpa had been chatting with him, and he looked far less concerned now. (An impossible gift my grandfather possesses.) He had slowly ended up there after standing in earshot of me for the first few minutes. I shook hands with everyone and thanked them for their time. I turned to greet suit-man and something amazing happened. “Great job,” he said to me with a smile. “Thank you,” I replied back with what I’m sure was a confused look on my face. He shook my hand and we went our separate ways. That encounter was but a brief second, yet it taught me a lot.

First, that as a young person in the industry I had the power to choose how to respond to critics. I could have awkwardly squeezed my way through the interview with the lower-than-low self-confidence level I felt. I could have turned and avoided the man after feeling so frustrated due to the judgment in his eyes. I would never have earned his respect that way.

Finally, it taught me that my insecurities will be reflected in my assumptions of what others think. Maybe suit-man was in a hurry or had just taken the individual to an interview that went horribly. I have no idea what he was thinking, but I do know that he was at least slightly confused at first. Then again, who wouldn’t be?

In the end, my takeaway is this: when you make big moves, there will be doubters. You won’t know what it is about you that they’re not taking seriously, but it will undoubtedly be something. Your response to those people is all on you. Giving a snarky response or letting those hard feelings take over the situation is only going to affect you negatively. So, be kind.

Maddy Agers

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