By: Brittany Blesener
Being a recent graduate from court reporting school, I wish there were some secret tips and tricks or a magical formula that I could pass along to those still in the fight. Unfortunately, everyone is different, and each of us has to fight through our own battles and deal with our own challenges.
When I was a student, my circumstances and home life didn’t align perfectly to make the best environment in which to focus, practice, and attend school. It seemed things were against me. But in looking around, I realized many classmates were dealing with just as much or more. Of course, you get out what you put in; that is for certain, but how do you put in what you need to when a hundred other things (including your doubts and fears) are plaguing your mind and demanding attention? There are probably several answers to that question, but I found something–one very surprising thing–that I never gave enough weight to until I was feeling completely overwhelmed: Camaraderie.
There are two important reasons for colleagues and professionals who push you: They will help you see your bright, sunny future when you see nothing but clouds, and they will help you blow past mediocrity. They can beat into submission your fear of failure and push you to become great when you’re starting to plateau.
I have never been a “words of affirmation” girl. In fact, positive reinforcement generally would just be blown off or reasoned away with “…but they don’t actually see my realtime.” (Isn’t that the fearful phrase that resounds and overshadows every encouraging word we hear when starting out?) Nevertheless, there is something powerful about a person’s ability to name your fear without you articulating or sharing anything!
A while back when I was working at an Arthur Murray Franchise dance studio and learning how to teach, the owner came over to me and said, “No one will believe you if, when they make a mistake, you say, ‘That happens all the time.’ They will simply feel as if you are trying to make them feel better and they, in fact, will feel worse. However, if you tell them the mistake they are going to make before they make it; when it actually happens, they will laugh and trust your ability to teach.”
I cannot begin to stress the importance of camaraderie in the profession of court reporting. It is because of so many wonderful, experienced reporters being open, honest, real, and vulnerable that I was able to plow through doubts, fears, and inadequacies. It is also why I am encouraged and have the desire to challenge myself and set new and higher goals each time I reach one. Having someone else to believe in you when you are not sure you can believe in yourself is priceless and what prepares us so that we can be the next in line when someone with shaky knees steps up to the plate. That chain of encouragement and pulling the person below you up to where you are is essentially what keeps our profession as wonderful as it is.
So students, if you are not a member of the state and national associations, join! If you don’t have a mentor, get one! And if you are usually the loner in class, reach out and start making friends. Other students are a part of the tiny segment of the population that actually gets what you’re going through. Build that camaraderie… and watch how it will build your confidence!