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Take The First Step: Matthew Sniegowski’s Senior Column

I’ve always struggled with branching out and trying new things on my own. The insecurities of “What if I do something wrong?” or “What if I make a fool of myself?” have had an effect on almost everything in my life — from something as simple as going to a bar I haven’t been to before or as serious as applying for jobs.

Even if I realize these thoughts are unreasonable, I find myself often second guessing my confidence. This has had a major impact on me trying new things, regardless if it’s something I’ve always wanted to do.

If you had told Fall 2016 me that I’d be traveling the country taking pictures of Penn State football as the head visual staffer for the most-followed student-run media outlet in the world, I’d probably nervously laugh and shit a brick at the thought of it.

My freshman year, I tried to get involved with some friends I had made in a newly-accepted students GroupMe. We all hung out, got food together, and a couple of us even played IM volleyball together (s/o BS^2). Hey, look at me! Trying new stuff finally! Living in East was really helpful for me to meet new people and feel accepted.

I had gotten into photography just the year prior when my parents bought me a camera for Christmas in 2015. I simply messed around, mainly trying nighttime photography to see stars and light trails from cars. During the fall of my freshman year, there was a lightning storm over the Law Building that I ran outside to try and capture. I sent the picture to Onward State, which then featured it on its Twitter. A couple weeks later, my friend Mitch Stewart, who had joined several weeks prior, recommended I apply. Another new thing for me to try!

The following spring semester, I started building up my repertoire. My first sporting event I covered was a women’s basketball game between Penn State and Purdue. The next week, I covered another Lady Lions game and then tried some women’s lacrosse. I started to find myself wanting to try different sports and branch out in my photography. I started to gain confidence in trying new things, culminating in being asked to begin covering football the upcoming season after my coverage of the 2017 Blue-White game. Hoo boy, this was one of the most terrifying things for me to commit too, yet I felt prepared.

Shadowing Alex Bauer, our other football photographer, I began gaining confidence in my abilities and in my personality. I started tagging along with the rest of the Onward State football crew (David Abruzzese, Steve Connelly, Ethan Kasales, and Bauer) for away games at Northwestern, Ohio State, and Maryland. I no longer felt afraid to cover sporting events, I was more excited to try new ones. That season ended with me flying out to Scottsdale, Arizona to cover the Fiesta Bowl against Washington. I hadn’t realized it at the time, but the 2017 season was such an important time for me to mature and develop my self-confidence and put many of my insecurities to rest.

That summer I took my biggest step and became the visual editor of Onward State. Absolutely terrified, I turned to Trevor Hayes, the graduating VE who I was taking over for, for advice and help. With his help, I slowly gained the confidence to lead one of the best groups of people I’ve ever worked with. Fast forward two years, and here I am ready to pass the torch on to whoever the next visual editor is.

I’m not really sure what the purpose of the above wall of text is, but I guess the main point I’ve been trying to get across is to step over anything that is stopping you from trying new things. In my time at college, I’ve started rock-climbing, joined an incredible group of friends at Onward State, played IM Volleyball and Rocket League, been to countless sporting events, and made enough memories to last a lifetime, just to name a few things. None of these would have been possible had I let my fear of trying new things overcome me. I still struggle with trying many new things, though I don’t let it hold me back and actually stop me.

To my family: Thank you for your unwavering support in what I do. Thank you for your constant care and interest in what I do. Without you guys, I certainly wouldn’t be where I am today. Being the youngest in the family, I look up to all of you with admiration, and I cherish all the memories and times we’ve had.

To Madison: You have been the one person I am most open with. Thank you for all the hours of talking and listening and being my partner. I really look forward to taking pictures, hiking, biking, roaming Georgetown, and playing Animal Crossing with you more. Love you, bug <3

To Trevor Hayes: Thank you for being my role model at Onward State. I truly looked up to you as a leader and as a friend. The time we had at the Fiesta Bowl is one of my favorite memories in college and truly made me appreciate what I do.

To Alex Bauer, David Abruzzese, Steve Connelly, and Ethan Kasales: Thank you for making me feel welcome in an ever so terrifying first season covering football. The drives to the away games were some of the best bonding experiences I’ve had with a group of friends.

To the Meat Train: I love y’all so much, whether you were a roommate, volleyball partner, or just someone I could talk to, I really appreciate the memories we’ve had. I couldn’t have had a better group of friends for four years and I look forward to getting everyone back together. Please, step away from the meat.

To Matt Soffera: Thanks for being my best friend in BE, I’m gonna miss Cafe with Chino and Annalyse. I’ll still work you in darts whenever you want it.

To video game boys back home: After all this coronavirus stuff passes, we’ve got to have a massive LAN and rally, mine, rocket league, and defend Helm’s Deep.

To the rest of Onward State: Thank you for welcoming me in like a family. You are all so great and I really appreciate the time we all have had as a community.

Thank you for taking the time to read this. If you’ve made it this far, I truly appreciate you. We Are!

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About the Author

Matt Sniegowski

Matthew is a Junior majoring in Biological Engineering with a focus on Natural Resource Engineering. He is from Fairfax, VA, or "just outside of DC". To contact Matthew, send an email to [email protected] or message him on twitter @m_sniegowski.

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