Even as a little girl I had a - somewhat romantic - idea of ​​what I wanted to be: a famous journalist, something between Karla Kolumna and Gundula Gause.

Why?

Because, despite numerous failures in school, I kept hearing at least one thing: I was good at putting things into words.

In German essays, I took my classmates on wild kidnapping stories, introduced them to the world of little talking garden gnomes, or imagined a tuba player who could travel her own future.

The praise from the German teacher in my back strengthened my career aspirations more and more.

I saw myself chasing after the next big story with wild hair, a worn leather jacket and deep bags under my eyes.

Always in the luggage: a small notepad and a little change for coffee.

During my studies, I quickly realized that life as an aspiring journalist would be far less romantic and less glorious.

Because suddenly my grown-up self had to realize with horror that I wasn't the only one who was praised for her stories when I was at school.

Everywhere I met young students who were overflowing with creative ideas and had a lot more to show for themselves than I did.

Here someone had done an amazing internship at a big newspaper, someone there had even published a book.

Some worked as freelance journalists alongside their studies.

And me?

I had my high school diploma, four months abroad and had dropped out of law school.

My rose-colored glasses were suddenly torn away.

In order to somehow stand out in the crowd, I tried everything possible.

I volunteered as a journalist for the university newspaper, wrote my first texts and attended journalism seminars.

But my studies taught me one thing above all very quickly: humility.

My first submitted article for the university newspaper came back with all the corrections marked in red, but instead of these you could have written directly underneath: "Six, type".

My self-confidence, which my German teacher had pimped for years, was gone.

"You can't write it like that!", "What were you thinking when you phrased it?" or "Is that even still German?", also ran through my university career as a quote in my journalistic seminars.

Never-ending nagging

However, I have to admit: It's not true that the others were all more creative, more confident with their lyrics and generally more advanced.

In the end, many of my fellow students told me about similar experiences, and not just in journalism.

Whether art, music or photography: it seems to be a phenomenon, especially in creative courses, that modern leadership virtues such as appreciatively formulated criticism and flat hierarchies are hardly common practice.

Instead, many report never-ending nagging about their work, harshly formulated criticism from lecturers and the resulting feeling of never being good enough.

As if that wasn't stressful enough, many fellow students compare themselves in such a competitive environment.

At the beginning of the semester break, the fight for the best internship, which always flares up anew, is mixed up with the nagging question of whether one's own writing skills are sufficient at all.

This is how competitive pressure and frustration are programmed.

After all, everyone wants to stand out and somehow outperform their fellow students.

What you don't get taught: the ability to work in a team, constructive work on texts and a fair feedback culture.

Instead, many students are confronted with stress, pressure and headaches, which affects both the body and the psyche.

an increased level of adrenaline,

Swim in the vast sea of ​​mediocrity

Of course, one could now argue that the pressure to succeed and self-doubt are present in every course of study and that common strategies such as doing sports, meditation and, if necessary, student counseling can help.

However, one has to ask oneself, especially in creative courses, to what extent an atmosphere of wanting to outdo oneself while at the same time continuing to criticize the abilities of the students is beneficial for the training of young creative people.

In any case, many journalism students have the feeling of swimming in the vast sea of ​​mediocrity until the last spark of creativity is finally drowned.

A select few may feel spurred on by competitive pressures.

But I believe that a supportive, freer environment would be more beneficial.

In any case, my romantic journalistic ideal quickly disappeared during my studies.

After all, no one, even a picky professor, has ever challenged my urge to write something I can be proud of.

I may not have become the new Karla Kolumna yet, but I definitely fulfill my childish cliché of a coffee-addicted, wild-haired writer with deep dark circles under her eyes.

Lina von Coburg (22 years old) is a bachelor's student in journalism in Mainz.

In addition to her studies, she writes poems, philosophizes about life and thinks about how a prospective journalist can survive.

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