My dad has a picture of me in his wallet from my first grade picture day.
I’ve sat for countless picture days since then, but this one reminds him of me most – curly blonde hair and a little chunky, I pursed my lips into a devilish half smile, hinting that trouble wasn’t too far behind.
My dad and I rightfully named that troublemaker “Alitude” during my sophomore year in high school.
With a column in the Deerfield High School newspaper named after my sassy alter ego, the name stuck. I ended every column with the same prophetic line: “I know no one asked, but that’s just my Alitude.”
By senior year, I had created an image I both loved and loathed. It got me a spot on the Illinois All-State Journalism team, alongside a reputation I didn’t want to have with some of my teachers and peers.
Alitude became my metaphorical dragon tattoo, an identifier that eclipsed all other traits. I could only hope it wouldn’t follow me to college.
Nabbing the chance to be The Hatchet’s Slice of Life columnist at the end of my freshman year, I found my chance for a redo. And four years later as I write to fill my last few inches, I’m realizing I still have some Alitude left in me.
The persona I tried so hard to drop has molded my Colonial experience.
Leafing through my thick white binder of all the columns I’ve written, I found a high school piece with guidance I gave my peers: “Find your voice, and use it.”
Twenty-two Hatchet columns later, I find it’s not so much about having a voice as it is knowing where and when to project it.
That’s what Alitude and Slice of Life have always been about. I covet this space as my words of freedom.
After Commencement, I’ll lend my voice to digital international advocacy campaigns, where my Alitude will possibly have a chance to do some good.
Like ending the week with Froggy Bottom pitchers, I’m going to miss the relief that comes with writing every inch of a column that has felt like home. Though I’m sad to go, I leave you with some Alitude and a parting message: Find your voice and use it to do some good.