Thursday, May 19, 2011


Here's a confession I've never told anyone, but in the spirit of honesty thought I would share it with the world.

I get nervous whenever I do an interview with someone. I'm not talking job interview where I'm the one being interviewed, because duh, everyone gets nervous about that. I'm talking about the interviews I do for my work with and Belle magazine. It's always been this way. I can still remember my very first interview, for V Magazine for Women when I was a rising senior in college. It was for a piece about vintage fashion in Richmond and I interviewed the owner of Halycon. I was terrified. I have no idea why. If I had gone into Halycon to buy clothes I would have no qualms about speaking to the owner, but put a tape recorder in my hands and a list of questions to ask and I get the clammy palms, shaky voice syndrome. I can usually hide it, but it's always there.

I thought this was something that would get easier the more interviews I did. I did a few more after college in Charleston for a sports/outdoor lifestyle magazine start-up that never actually, well, started up. One of these interviews I had to do while on a mountain bike. I kid you not. Let that image percolate for a while. Here I was, trying to be all inquisitive and curious about this guy, while simultaneously trying to literally not die as we sped along backwoods trails at the Naval Plantation (sounds cooler than it is). It ended up being less of an interview and more of a remedial bike lesson, as this man kindly instructed me on how to bike without clutching my handle bars for dear life and stare directly down at the ground beneath me. But hey, it made for a great article. Which never ran anywhere.

I didn't interview anyone for a couple of years (my lost years where I was a barista, a nanny, and a teacher to Thai children among other things), and then I started working as a freelancer here in Richmond. And there they were again-interviews. I've done dozens since then, and I think or at least hope I've gotten better at it (in no other exercise do you get such intense feedback of how much you suck-because you have to sit there and listen to your interview technique again and again as you transcribe the quotes, it can be brutal, I over used the phrase "mm hmm" to the point where I now clamp my mouth shut in fear if the sound mm starts to leave my mouth during an interview).

But I still get nervous. I'm curious if this is just me or if other journalists feel this way too. I can't even fully explain why. If I were talking to these people in a non-interview there'd be no nerves at all. Maybe the interview thing scares me, because I know I'm supposed to be a journalist, capital J, and that's still new. I still feel like I'm writing for my school paper, interviewing college kids about their Thanksgiving plans (to be more accurate interviewing only my friends about their Thanksgiving plans because I was too terrified to ask random strangers).

Or maybe it's just because I'm shy and some things will always be a little scarier for me. It took me a really long time to be okay with being shy, but I am now. It's harder for me to make friends, but I also think it weeds out those fake friends that you hang out with but don't really like. If I make a friend that person is going to be someone I legitimately want in my life.

But I digress. The interview thing can be annoying, and sometimes I just wish the nerves would completely go away. And maybe they will eventually if I do it enough. But in some ways I hope they don't. I'm a firm believer in doing things that scare you. And it's nice, that when my life is fairly safe right now in other ways, I have these scary little moments to tackle frequently.

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