The Runner Up

18 Dec

National Geographic Glimpse offers a program for 8 different people living around the world to be correspondents and write different articles for them for a few months. The competition is tough, but it’s the kind of program that can really improve your writing and boost you to the next level. The program is offered for the fall and spring every year. I’d applied in the summer for the fall program and wasn’t accepted. So I applied again for the spring, changing my application a bit. This time around, I was selected as a finalist. Only 25 people out of over 600 were chosen as finalists, and of that only 8 would be chosen as the correspondents.

After a long time of waiting to hear, I finally found out that I wasn’t selected, but am an alternate, so if one of the other correspondents doesn’t work out, I could be asked to step in. While it’s obviously a huge honor to even be considered a finalist for National Geographic, it’s still a let down to not be chosen. Nothing can actually replace being selected in the top 8.

But I’m also thinking about how missed opportunities and second chances kind of got me started in the first place. I added journalism as a major towards the end of my freshman year, kind of on a whim. A friend had been accepted to the program and I thought that I liked to write and wanted to give it a shot. My sophomore year I applied for a travel writing and photojournalism class that would go to Sicily for spring break to document the trip. I wasn’t accepted and was pretty upset, but went home for winter break and forgot about it. A few days before heading back to school for the spring semester I got a call from the teacher saying a spot opened up and I was welcome to join the class.

From there I just continued to grow interest in travel writing. In Sicily I realized that I wanted to study abroad in Spain (kind of random) and in Spain I realized that I wanted to live abroad again for a longer period of time. After returning from Spain I found an internship with a Web site I’d never heard of which now is actually out of business. I went to my internship coordinator and told her about it, she immediately said, “No, you’re going to do this one instead.” So she put in a call to GoNOMAD and I basically had the internship without a question.

I remember being a little miffed, because I did the work to find the internship, and she suddenly told me it wasn’t good enough and had me change over. But it ended up working out great. I was able to get first hand experience writing articles and editing, and I even got to go on a press trip in Grenada which helped me network, as well as see more of the inside of travel writing. As it turned out, I realized because of that trip that I’m not really interested in travel writing as a whole, but rather traveling and writing about it. The glitzy magazines are fine if you want to find a new resort to go to, but I’d rather do something and then be able to write freely.

Now I’ve got to try to look at the bright side and hope that there can be a positive from not actually being selected. I never expected to even get that far, so being named a finalist and alternate is still an honor. But I’ll keep writing and hoping that someone out there is reading and actually enjoying it. And maybe someday it will come back to me.

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