Senior Column | The DI taught me to live outside of my comfort zone

Although I’m not pursuing a career in journalism, my work with DITV taught me life lessons I’ll never forget.


Contributed photo of Lauren Johnson, Politics Reporter.

Lauren Johnson

There’s this old saying that goes, “Life happens just outside your comfort zone.” When I was younger, I never really believed it. Being out of my comfort zone made me anxious, and anxiety makes it difficult to feel like I’m living and not just surviving. For most of my life, I happily existed in my comfort zone.

I probably would have stayed there, too, if I hadn’t lived alone in fall 2020, realized I missed people and wanted to do something that let me interact with them. I had friends who were a part of DITV at that point, and when one of them suggested I apply, I impulsively threw my comfort zone out the window and said yes. I had no prior journalism experience and didn’t plan on going into journalism, but I showed up ready to learn what went into producing the news.

By leaving my comfort zone and working at DITV, I’ve learned three important lessons. First, the best teachers are the people around us. Writing stories meant I had to reach out to people who had far more expertise on a topic than I did, and I learned a lot listening to them.

The people I met at work also taught me so much, from how to be a stronger journalist to how to be more confident in what I had to say. The confidence I gained after leaving my comfort zone helped me find my voice, which was lesson No. 2. I quickly realized you can’t tell someone else’s story if you don’t know how to tell your own.

Before working here, I frequently second-guessed myself and wondered if the things I had to say were really worth saying. DITV forced me to gain more confidence in myself as a thinker and communicator. After finding this confidence, I found myself more willing to do the things that scared me at DITV as well.

When I started working at DITV, I was terrified of tech roles. Now, I’ve directed quite a few broadcasts and — shocker — they went pretty well. Additionally, I was fortunate to have a news director this year who believed in and trusted me enough to let me create a political segment. I am so proud of the work that went into creating “Backroom Breakdown,” and I know it will be an experience I’m going to miss.

Finally, I learned life outside my comfort zone is actually fun. I’ve had a lot of great experiences through my work at DITV, such as covering the 2020 election on Election Night and getting to go to Washington, D.C., with a group of reporters to interview members of Iowa’s congressional delegation the week the Senate voted to confirm Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson to the Supreme Court.

I’ve made incredible friendships through my work here, and I will truly miss the people I’ve worked with as we all move on to other things. I’ve grown considerably as a person through my work at The Daily Iowan. Although I don’t plan to go into journalism after I graduate, I will be forever grateful for the experiences I’ve had as a student broadcast journalist. So, for the last time: From the University of Iowa, Lauren
Johnson, DITV.

Columns reflect the opinions of the authors and are not necessarily those of the Editorial Board, The Daily Iowan, or other organizations in which the author may be involved.