Reflections in Albany Park

I chased a girl through a parking lot.

That sounds crazy, I know. But it wasn’t. Before you call the police, here’s how I got there.

For the past few weeks, I’ve been reporting in Albany Park. I should correct that statement, by reporting  I mean making the connections with community representatives in the hopes of finding stories to tell.

In journalism that isn’t uncommon, in fact, when entering a new community it is a necessity.  I’ve had success with community organizations which have provided important background on the Korean American population history in Chicago. The connections that have come the hardest is with the regular business owners.

Before you read this next paragraph, I should say that I’ve gotten better with rejection.

So back to the rejection, I’ve heard “no” more in this area than I have in a while. Most business owners aren’t around when I come into their business and some will be gone for long periods of time– one was in Switzerland. The ones that are around aren’t interested in me talking to them.  I’m finding it harder to connect with people in this area.  For a while I got really discouraged because in some way we all want people to like us, it starts in kindergarten and doesn’t really leave you. But for a journalist wanting people to like you is secondary to the fact that you just want people to talk to you and help you. That was the part I’ve been struggling with. Not to get too personal but I don’t like failure, in fact, I’m pretty terrible at failing. So to feel like a failure by not being able to integrate into this community quickly wasn’t sitting well with me.

So I had a conversation with fellow journalists and then I remembered to Kanye West,  Justin Timberlake and Olivia Pope.

Yes, Kanye “Can’t Tell Me Nothing” West. And Justin “Love of My Life” Timberlake. And Olivia “It’s Handled” Pope.  My own private nicknames for them. What does this have to do with journalism or Korean town? I’m getting there.

In life you can find inspiration anywhere. West and Timberlake have this drive,  this ability to look at the larger picture has come across more in watching and listening to their interviews.  For me, Kanye’s confidence level is unmatched and listening to his interviews has made me  realize that sometimes you have to get past the self-pity and get your life together. And Justin, his work ethic is amazing. And fictional Scandal character, Olivia Pope? She’s strong and she thinks on the fly and comes up with solutions quickly –a trait that I’m working on.

What did this reflection mean for my future reporting?

I chased a girl in a parking lot and asked a couple of questions in the hopes of finding a story.

Though it didn’t result in a story or even the potential for one, and I probably scared her to death. The process  reminded me to step outside of the comfortable path.

That’s something that I needed to remember.


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