Each year, graduating editors are given 30 final column inches – “30” was historically used to signify the end of a story – to reflect on their time at The Hatchet, published in the final issues of the year.
I remember sitting in the library, writing my first column the fall of junior year. I printed it off, edited it, played with the sentence structure and tweaked the language. All told, I probably went through three or four drafts before I sent it to my editor. I wanted it to be perfect.
I’d always liked writing, but this was different. It wasn’t an academic paper. And it wasn’t going to be graded.
My first two years of college were difficult. I was a bit of a loner, didn’t have many friends and spent most of my time in the library reading and doing schoolwork. But column writing offered a window out of my self-inflicted solitude. I liked writing, and I was tired of being lonely.
But besides the fact that The Hatchet helped me come out of my shell, it also gave me a chance to work with a number of incredibly smart and talented people who I probably would never have met otherwise. My friends there became my social group and quickly filled the void.
This job wasn’t easy. Quite the opposite. I found myself in a position where I had to manage a section, make decisions, budget columnists, meet with writers, schedule interviews, edit content, lead the editorial board, meet deadlines and somehow find time for school work and some semblance of a social life.
This job never stops. There’s no time to take a break or relax. There’s always another deadline or another column to be edited.
Being an editor was one of the most frustrating and difficult things I’ve ever done. This institution demands so much of everyone who works here. And at the outset, it’s not always clear what you get in return.
It was like a large coat I never felt I fit into, where the sleeves are too long and it’s loose in the shoulders. But I had to make it fit.
And yet, what made the paper so frustrating is also what made it the most rewarding. It forced me into a position where I wasn’t comfortable. It forced me to squirm and think on my feet. And most of all, it forced me to confront my own doubts and insecurities.
I’ll always be grateful for that.
Despite all my shortcomings, I have managed to have a number of successes. I’ve helped cultivate new writers into seasoned columnists. I’ve been given the opportunity to have the definitive word on a number of campus issues. And I’m proud of many of the columns we published this year.
If there’s one thing I’ve learned from the Hatchet though, it’s that writing is always difficult.
You can write and rewrite and edit and rewrite all you want. You can sleep on an idea, and come back to it a day later. No matter how good you are one day, the next day you’re always back to square one, lost in your own conflicted thoughts.
And now that it’s coming to an end, I’m reminded of something one of my professors once told me. He said that you know you’ve had a good class when at the end you still have more to talk about. You know you’ve learned a lot when there’s still more to say.
Such is the case with The Hatchet. There are still more columns to write and issues to resolve. But I’ll leave those pieces for the next mixed-up guy who will come along after Volume 109 has been left to collect dust on the shelf.
There are a few people I’d like to say thank you to before I sign off.
Priya: This is going to sound so trite, but thank you for believing in me and having confidence in my abilities even when I didn’t believe in myself. You are the reason I stayed with the Hatchet, and I really can’t thank you enough. I know we didn’t always see eye-to-eye on what columns should look like, but despite our disagreements, we were always able to come away friends. And for that I’m grateful. Oh, and remember that time we went to Lucky Dub?
Annu: I remember meeting you to talk about my very first column, and instantly feeling at ease and welcome. Thank you for teaching me everything I know about column writing. It was your continual encouragement and reassurance that helped get me through the year. I’ve always been amazed at how smart you are. And as far as friends go, you’re one of the best. I know I pick on you a lot, but you really are a great friend. Thank you, thank you, thank you.
Justin: I’m so proud of you. You’ve grown so much this year, and I was lucky enough to get to witness it. You’re kind, brilliant and generous and you were always there when I needed you. I’m not quite sure how I would have gotten through the year without you by my side. Thank you. I wish you way more than luck next year. But I know you won’t need it.
Doug: You’re one of my closest friends, and it’s hard to imagine what my college life would be like without you. I still think you and I would have made a great team as opinions editors. Thank you for always being there to talk whenever I needed to vent. I’ll truly miss our adventures to Dupont. You wrote some amazing columns this year, and you should be proud of all that you’ve accomplished. Xoxo.
Jenna: Thank you for being an honorary member of ops. I hope you enjoyed yourself, and I hope one day you’ll actually write a column because you’d be good at it. You’re one of the smartest people I’ve ever met and you have a wonderful sense of humor. Thank you for letting me play the third wheel with you and Justin.
Cory: It has been great getting to know you the past two years. I always enjoyed our conversations. I can’t wait to see what you do with the paper next year. You’ve worked your ass off, and I wish you all the best as EIC. But remember to have confidence! And don’t give Justin too much trouble.
Gabe: No, I will not read your thesis. Thank you for asking. But seriously, thanks for always trying to lighten the mood when I was stressed. I might have complained that you were being annoying or too loud, but you were always there to remind me not to take myself too seriously.
Jordan: I regret not getting to know you better this year. You’re hilarious, smart and talented and I wish you all the best. We should have had pantsless prodos every prodo.
Ryan: You were fun to have on editorial board, and I hope you enjoyed yourself. Time will change us, but I’ll always be your “daddy.”
Amanda: Thank you for always being so vocal in editorial board. And also, thank you for drawing so many amazing cartoons. You and Ryan make a great team, and I’m glad I got to know you both.
Lyndsey “The Wild One”: You’ve been a great friend, and you’ve taught me so much about the Opinions page. I can’t thank you enough.
Connor: Thank you for always reading the Ops page. And for putting the columns up online. And also thank you for letting me call you “Corn Dog”.
Mom, Dad and Bryan: If college has taught me anything, it’s that I know now that if I ever need money I can call you. But seriously, thank you for all of your support. As a family, we’ve been through a lot together, but you’ve always been there for me. I love you. Xoxo.