Stories from intrepid reporters attending the Illinois Press Foundation Journalism Workshop at Eastern Illinois University
By Elise Guillen
Janaleigh Muszynsky struggles with mental health issues yet has been able to maintain her passions in band, journalism and running her own blog to express all of her emotions.
Muszynsky, who goes by JL, simply because it is easier for herself and most people to understand. JL thinks her name is too long which is ironic since she actually changed her name and has been able to have some type of control in her life where she would not be able to in other areas. JL happens to love her long name due to the involvement she had in it. Originally, her first name was Jana and her middle name was Leigh, by changing her name, JL gave herself a name that was able to flow the way she wanted it to and to match her identity.
JL’s discovery for the path she wants to take in life comes from the TV show, How I Met Your Mother, she wanted to be just like Robin Scherbatsky, a journalist who reported for a local news channel. Over time, her dream went from being Robin to a fine-arts journalist for the Rolling Stones.
This change occurred when JL realized how much she loves being behind the scenes rather than in front of the camera.
“I love the idea of being relied on while at the same time people don’t really know who you are,” she said.
As JL has grown up, her interest has influenced the type of journalist she wanted to be. Once she discovered music, she finally had a clear dream to be a fine arts journalist.
One thing that has never changed for JL is that she’s always wanted to have a career where she was constantly moving and being able to be paid for doing something she loves: writing.
JL’s love for writing is portrayed in her blog called “Inside a Teenage Mind,” which displays her own opinions that really show what her beliefs are. It also features her poetry, short stories, and gives people glimpses into her creativity. JL thinks her blog is a mess but ultimately thinks it’s going pretty well.
“I’m able to control what people see,” she said.
By JL being into music and slowly working toward becoming a fine arts journalist, it’s no shock that she has a skill in music. JL spends a lot of time at school due to how involved she is with band. She is a crucial part of the band due to the fact she knows how to play 27 instruments. Muszynsky really has a knack for learning how to play instruments, what’s interesting is that once she learns one, she sticks to it and never gives up on it. By having such a big role in her band, it puts a lot of stress on her. The stress that comes from band is not having enough time for her other interests and not being able to invest more time into her school work. JL’s stress plays a role with her struggle with her mental health.
JL has noticed her struggles since the 6th grade. Her experiences in life, like having friends trying to kill themselves, have been no help to her stress or struggles. Even though she’s been through a lot, there are many great factors in her life. JL has a passion for writing and has a close relationship with her mother and cousin.
JL has moved multiple times in her life and can’t call a specific place home and says “My mom is home.” During interviews with JL’s cousin and her mom, they both said how creative JL is from her writing skills to her ability to play so many instruments and is great with kids.
JL’s cousin, Lauren, says JL is her role model, “She is the only older person than me who I’m close to, and she doesn’t treat me like a kid.”
Despite JL having many hardships in her life, she has been able to turn all those bad things to positive things through her passions. JL’s struggles and her interest are the reasons why she writes. Through her writing, she comes out stronger as an individual, proving she is capable of not letting her struggles stop and define her and create her own path.