Shaelyn Barber



Whenever anything happens to me, the first person I call is my mom. So, buzzing off the excitement of my very first interview for Voices of Utah, I dialed her number. It rang once, twice, then three times, and the warm voice of my mother echoed through the speaker.

I chattered into the phone, animatedly spilling the tale. She listened patiently, then laughed.

“You sure chose an interesting job.”

For an introvert with social anxiety, journalism is perhaps a nonsensical career path. As part of my daily life, I am pushing the boundaries of my comfort zone. I have to go outside, search out fascinating stories, approach strangers, and carry out long conversations with people I’ve never met before. By all expectations, it should be terrifying for me. In fact, it is.

Yet, the terror is counterbalanced by something stronger: a deep bubbling passion.

I never wanted to settle for a career that I was not in love with. Fortunately, I stumbled into journalism by pure coincidence. As I searched painstakingly for a life path, I found that journalism just so happened to check off all the criteria I had for a job. I would be able to travel. I could write. And, I would never have to stop learning.

But, beyond that check list, journalism has blossomed into something that means far more to me. For every ounce of fear in my heart, there is just as much love.

Most of all, and again perhaps most bizarrely paradoxical, is the deep fascination I bear for the stories of other people. While I, in all likelihood, should be terrified to go out and have deep conversations with people I have never met, that is truly my favorite part of journalism.

I want to hear about people’s experiences and lives. I want to form connections and emotional bonds. I want to write about them so that other people, too, may learn from them.

That has been my greatest realization while working on my stories for Voices of Utah. I can overcome my fears, because writing gives me strength through my weaknesses.


My first experience with journalism was in first grade. As some sort of career exploration, I shuffled myself into a dimly lit portable classroom and sat down to learn the art of news writing. I loved it. Then, I promptly abandoned it for the world of fiction.

I spent most of my younger days working to be an author. I have stacks of notebooks filled with poetry, story outlines and character sketches. I wrote at least two full-novel-length works during high school.

By the time I reached college in the fall of 2014, my dreams of authorship began to fade and I was left drifting, searching for something to fulfill me in the same way that fantasy had. I wrote lists of possible majors containing everything from astronomy to painting and all that lies in between.

I finally settled on the two majors that seemed to fit the best, political science and journalism and, as I began to learn the art of news writing, I fell in love once again.

I aspire to become a travel writer. I want to be able to see the world and share my experiences and passion with others through my writing.

My work can be found on my personal blog, Shaepable, and in the opinion section for the Daily Utah Chronicle.

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