By Megan O’Brien
A week ago, I had a lecture on ‘The New Journalism’ and writing first-person articles, we talked about how this style of journalism is becoming more popular and if journalists could ever really be one hundred percent impartial anyway.
As somebody who always has the tendency to use the first person when I should be leaving myself and my opinions at the door, I was delighted to get the chance to write something like this. Our task was to “write a 450-500 word first-person piece” and it could be “on any topic you want.”
I sat down to brainstorm some ideas, I could write about any experience I’ve had, some remarkable story I have or something I have a controversial opinion on, but I kept coming up empty. I didn’t think any of my ideas were interesting enough to make a decent article. When I can’t get work done, I read some sort of non-fiction (in this case, it was Jim Carroll’s ‘The Basketball Diaries’) or else I watch Casey Neistat, a short film-maker, on YouTube. One of these things always gives me inspiration or helps me focus, so I did both, multiple times, but it only made my situation worse.
I was reading a book about a young man and what he went through and experienced growing up as an addict on the streets of New York City. Then, I was watching a different guy go on amazing adventures, meet interesting people and make short films just because he decided to do what he loves. The more I read and the more I watched, the more I felt like I had been living under a rock, not experiencing much.
Thanks to the blessing of Snapchat’s feature ‘Snap-streaks’ I needed to Snapchat my friend Lisa. A ‘Snap-streak’ is a phenomenon where you and a friend send a Snapchat to one another at least once in 24 hours, the aim is to see how many consecutive days you can keep it up for. Now I’m not the best at commitment sometimes, so Lisa and I getting our streak up to 14 was quite an achievement altogether.
So, I sent Lisa a Snapchat and I shared my problem. Ever the salmon of knowledge, Lisa suggested I talk about the millennial curse of always thinking you aren’t good enough because you’re constantly being surrounded by images of other people your age or younger that have done all these amazing things, things that you would love to do at some point. The curse is though, that it’s a trap, because although you haven’t achieved everything you’d like to, you’ve still done plenty. You’ve probably done a lot more than millions of others your age. We’re constantly fed the image of those that have ‘got it all’ that we forget there are millions of others out there that want to make it just as bad as you do but it just hasn’t happened yet.
I realised I was in the trap and when I really thought about it, there are things I’ve done which could be somebody else’s dreams. Simple things like getting to go to school and college and all the minor experiences I’ve had in between. Usually, I pride myself on not playing into the hands of social media’s illusions but this time it had me, hook, line and sinker. And I’m determined not to let it happen again.
So really this assignment taught me a lot more than how to write a first-person piece. It taught me not to measure my achievements against the people who’ve achieved more than me, but measure them against those who haven’t.