Not Gonna Lie, I’m Kinda Scared.

As I wrap an amazing year as a JSK Fellow at Stanford, I find myself thinking again and again of one of my favorite “you got this” anthems, Lily Allen’s Sheezus. In the song, she sings:

“Been here before, so I’m prepared
Not gonna lie though, I’m kinda scared
Lace up my gloves, I’m going in
Don’t let my kids watch me when I get in the ring.
I’ll take the hits, roll with the punches
I’ll get back up, it’s not as if I’ve never done this”

It’s how I feel about every big change that I’ve ever made: prepared, yet kind of scared. But this is the thing: it’s not as if I’ve ever done this. I’ve had a lot of firsts: first woman of color editor at the New York Times Magazine, first (and then second) time launching a magazine of my own, first book, first scripted television episode, first fellowship and now ahead of me, hopefully more firsts.

Writing, especially by hand, has taught me a lot about increasing my appetite for risk. You sit with a 200 page wirebound notebook that cost maybe $1.99. You start a page, you try it out, you rip out the page, you try again. 200 pages. 200 chances to get it right. Or close to right.

After writing more than a dozen books and co-authoring a few bestsellers, I’ve been drawn more to visually driven projects. Sometimes, a lot of times, as I begin to brainstorm and pitch, get rejected, rethink, refuel and pitch again — it feels scary and slightly impossible. But I’m bolstered by one recent win. At Stanford, I took a big leap and had the opportunity to collaborate with an amazing artist named Gillian Goerz. Together, we created a series of illustrated narratives about the future of journalism and what are the super powers journalists can draw on to reimagine and reinvigorate their careers. You can see a little more about our work together here:

So much of a writer’s life is solitary. But what makes this year different is that I move towards my next big leap, I’m not leaping alone. I’ve got this cohort of talented journalists, creatives and leaders taking the next big leap with me. I’m excited and inspired to see what we’ll all do next.

JSK Class of 2017

With special thanks to Adriana Garcia, Pam Maples and Rebekah Fergusson.