Dylan Widger

Dear readers,

If you’re like me, you have probably encountered a situation in which you felt like you just didn't belong. You might possibly be feeling that right now.

I felt that right here at the Daily Nebraskan.

Through that experience, I learned the value in giving second chances to things that seem like they aren’t working out. Sometimes, that makes all the difference.

During the fall of my freshman year at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, I was encouraged by multiple people to go work at the DN. I sent in my application, and before I knew it, I was taking my first photo assignment.

Being accepted as a photographer and seeing all the new opportunities I could take was very exciting for me. However, it was also terrifying.

I come from a small town in northeast Nebraska and had previously held an internship with a local marketing company. I had gained experience taking photos for assignments from profiles to breaking news to sporting events. Despite having already worked as a photographer, I didn’t have much experience with higher-grade camera equipment or covering larger, high-profile events. For many, seeing all the new possibilities of things to photograph would be thrilling. For me, it sent me into a state of panic.

I spent a lot of time looking at the photos the DN had published and saw how professional and engaging they were. They drew the viewer in with things like vibrant colors or looks of raw emotion on the subjects.

As someone who struggles a lot with self-confidence and valuing their work, I was hesitant to pick up many assignments. I feared my photos wouldn’t look as sharp as other photographer’s did and that I wouldn’t be doing the DN justice by giving them the photos I had taken.

I realize now how mistaken I was.

Throughout my first year at the DN, I felt very secluded from the others on the staff. I felt as though I wasn’t very well liked by my editors or my fellow photographers and I singled myself out as someone who wasn’t a huge asset to the staff. I felt like I just didn’t fit in and I didn’t understand why.

After talking with family and friends about the situation, I decided to give the DN another chance in the fall of my sophomore year, and if things still seemed to not be working, I would leave and pursue other opportunities.

After the new senior staff took over at the end of the spring semester, my new editor, Julian Tirtadjaja, conducted one-on-one meetings with each member of the returning photography staff. He told me that he and the other editors thought I was not taking assignments because I felt I was too good for them.

I left that meeting questioning all my actions of the previous year. I in no way felt that I was too good for assignments. Most often, I felt I wasn’t good enough, but by being too afraid to give it my all, I ended up hurting myself.

I came back to the DN in the fall of 2017 with hopes of a fresh start. I started picking up more assignments and trying to bond with my editors and fellow photographers. I stepped outside my comfort zone in the hopes that I could make myself seen in a more positive light. My editor Julian and his roommate, Irwin, became two of my closest friends on staff, and I started to form friendships with people outside of my section and around the newsroom.

Today, when I walk into the newsroom, I’m greeted by friendly faces and smiles from my fellow editors. My coworkers are fun and positive, and something as simple as a conversation about our days is enough to take my mind off whatever may be stressing me out. Going out for dinner with the staff is now a highlight of my week.

By giving the DN a second chance, I went from dreading coming into the office to making it my daily hangout spot in my free time. My fellow staff members went from people I couldn’t relate with to some of my closest friends.

I now feel that I truly do belong at the DN. If it wasn’t for me giving it a second chance, I wouldn’t have developed the friendships that will stay with me for the rest of my life.

Second chances are valuable. Without them, you lose the possibility of a situation ever getting better. If you’re struggling with something you’re involved in, whether it’s a club, class, job or relationship, don’t give up if you haven’t given it your all. Who knows, it might just become the highlight of your time at UNL.

Best,

Dylan Widger

Assistant Photo Editor