Sarah Blugis: Well, I guess this is growing up

Media Credit: Desiree Halpern | Photo Editor

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’m not the same person I was four years ago. Not even close.

Everything about me – the length of my hair, my political ideology, my relationships, the music I like, my writing ability and anything else you can think of – is drastically different. In fact, if I could meet my freshman self, I think she would be pleasantly surprised at what the future holds for her. Honestly, I doubt she’d recognize me.

I think most graduating seniors would say the same about themselves. But for me, the difference between my 18- and 22-year-old selves is so stark that it’s almost overwhelming. When I came to GW, all of my problems stemmed from my timidness. Back then, I was afraid to stand up for myself. I based my opinions on what people around me thought. I had little confidence in myself. I was scared to try new things, or push myself.

For a while, I was worried that wouldn’t change. I lived on the Vern my freshman year, and while I made incredible friends there, I felt disconnected. I was jealous of everyone who had already found a community in Greek life, on a sports team or in a student organization. I worried I would never find my place, or my passion.

But in the second semester of my freshman year, I took a chance and applied to join the opinions section of The Hatchet. I remember sitting next to the Vern’s water fountain when I opened the email from the opinions editor, and realized that somehow, I had been accepted. Then, everything about me started to change.

The funny thing about growing up is that, in the moment, you don’t realize it’s happening. But then all of a sudden you look up, and wonder where the time has gone, and realize how much you’ve changed. Looking back on my time at The Hatchet, I think I finally understand what it means to grow up, and to grow as a person.

When I was promoted from columnist to contributing opinions editor at the end of my sophomore year, of course, I went into my job hesitantly – unsure that I could be trusted to do anything but sit quietly in editorial board meetings or WordPress columns. But before I knew it, I was spending extra time in the townhouse. I hung out with my new, welcoming Hatchet family nearly every weekend. I was voluntarily speaking up in meetings, writing what I really felt, chatting bravely with Hatchet staff members who were more talented than I could ever hope to be.

Now, I’ve spent a year as the opinions editor, and that year went by faster than I ever could have anticipated. Every day I’ve spent in the townhouse is a day I’ve been confident in myself, in my work, in my passion for writing. Every rude comment, subtweet or backhanded Facebook post about something I’ve written has made me stronger. Every friend I’ve made at The Hatchet has taught me something, and encouraged me to keep going when the going gets tough.

These past few years, the townhouse has been one of the few places where I’ve been completely and unapologetically myself. That building and the people in it have been my home. There, sitting on the third floor by the window under a “Feminist Killjoy” banner, is where I came out of my shell. I felt more confident. I stood up taller. I changed, for the better.

I owe my happiness at GW to this newspaper, and I will always be grateful for that. I never dreamed that one organization or group of people could have such an effect on me. But this one did.

Working for The Hatchet gave me more than just a portfolio of clips. It gave me a group of dedicated and loyal friends who have loved and supported me in every way they can. It gave me a new outlook on life, and taught me that while nothing is easy, you can make some real change with a bit of hard work. It gave me a community to call home, both literally and figuratively, at a school that ruthlessly enforces independence and self-reliance.

The Hatchet gave me the courage to figure out who I am – and to grow. And I know it will keep changing people’s lives, just like it changed all of ours.

Media Credit: Desiree Halpern | Photo Editor

Justin: Without you as my mentor, I wouldn’t be here. I’ve always needed a push to leave my comfort zone, and you pushed me. I can’t thank you enough for teaching me how to opine, encouraging me to take on more responsibility and being my (smart and funny) friend. Thank you so much for believing I was capable of more than I ever thought I was. Even as a baby freshman, you made The Hatchet feel like home for me. And even more importantly, you (and Jenna) gave me the string of nicknames that hung on for the past few years – which, you’ll be surprised to learn, made my sophomore self feel incredibly cool. Much love, Bluge Bluger the Blue Jeans Blugis.

Jacob: I think you’re one of the coolest, most interesting people I’ve met at this newspaper. You made me feel so at ease about taking over as contrib, and I appreciated that more than you’ll ever know. I often look back at your columns for inspiration, trying to emulate your effortless humor and ability to argue. I think of you every time I open the Twerkflow.

Patrick: Everything started with you, so thank you for hiring me! As my first editor, you made me feel so welcome – and that’s the main reason I stayed with The Hatchet. You had a way of making writers feel at ease (even when we pitched dumb ideas), and I’ve always admired that.

Cory: As a writer and a columnist, I was often intimidated by the daunting number of comments you left on every column I submitted. In retrospect, I’m incredibly impressed by and thankful for the high standard to which you held The Hatchet, and by extension, young writers like me. I learned so, so much from you.

Bri: I’m so glad I got to know you last year. You pushed both me and Robin to do our best work, and reminded me how important it is to make sure everything we do at The Hatchet has a purpose. Thank you for taking a chance by hiring me.

Robin: My fellow feminist killjoy. I’ve definitely missed last year’s late night staff ed sessions in the Zen Lounge and gossiping with you on our way home from the townhouse – and it hasn’t been the same without you there to yell, “Little Bluge!” every time I accomplish something. As contrib, I looked forward to working with you/having fun every day, and I don’t think I’ve ever gelled so well with another person. You’re one of the hardest working people I know, with an incredible amount of courage and a willingness to take on brand new things. You laid the groundwork for Melissa and me so that we could run an incredible opinions section this year, and you’ve been there every step of the way. Thank you for answering my panicked gchats, reading over my columns and corralling Justin into happy hours for me to vent. I’m so lucky to have had you as my editor, my teacher and most importantly, one of my best friends.

Colleen: I believed our predecessors when they told us the opinions editor–editor in chief relationship is always the most contentious on staff. But we beat the odds. From the first day you shared me on your perfectly thought-out editing schedule and I shared you on mine, I knew we’d be a solid team. Our working relationship has been super smooth, and our friendship has, too. I’ll miss standing in your office doorway for my standard 20-minute goodbye at the end of prodo. Thanks for indulging some of my wilder staff ed ideas and letting me play around with my personal essay project. You’ve been such a caring, understanding and driven leader of this staff, and I think I speak for everyone in saying that we love and appreciate you so much.

Rachie: My love, my light, my beautiful friend. Over and over again, I’m amazed at how much joy and happiness you bring to The Hatchet – even after you’ve left. Everyone lights up when you’re around, and with good reason. You’ve made our townhouse feel like home for everyone, myself included. You’re an incredibly smart, talented and motivated person, a fellow Hatchet feminist, and an extremely caring friend. I’m so glad that I met you, and I can’t wait to continue drinking wine and talking about boys with you throughout our time in D.C.

Jacqueline: No one on staff makes people laugh the way you do. Your love for this newspaper is unmatched, and it’s clear from your unending dedication to your work. I know you’re going to kill it next year, and the news team will thrive with you leading them. Here’s to all the selfies you, Eva and I took at our first few awkward parties, and the confident Charlie’s Angels poses that followed. Make sure you keep the staff wild, and make sure they have fun.

Nora: I can’t believe it took so long for us to get to know each other, and I wish it hadn’t! You’re such a genuinely cool person. I love how much life you bring to the townhouse (especially the third floor) and to the sports section. You’re a force to be reckoned with, and I know you’ll make The Hatchet proud as one of the best ladies in sports journalism.

Grace: I’m so lucky to have met you on our Alternative Break as little sophomores, and I’m even luckier that you decided to spend every Sunday with us at the townhouse. You make the third floor a much friendlier place, and I’m so happy The Hatchet helped us stay friends outside of that cramped bus down to Alabama. You’ve taught me a lot about the world, and I’m really glad I met you.

Brandon and Mark: First, let me say I’m so glad that Ed Board infighting over UPD didn’t tear you two apart. I couldn’t bear being responsible for a tragedy like that. Of course, I knew it would be great to have both of you on Ed Board – but I didn’t anticipate how quickly I would come to appreciate each of you as friends. Brandon, thanks for keeping me and Ed Board grounded, making sure we all laugh, rapping “Gold Digger” with me at parties and being a great Hatchet Prom date. You’re one of the most vibrant personalities on staff, and I’m constantly in awe of your intelligence and creativity. Mark, you’ve been such a calming presence. I appreciate how hard you work, your Snapchats and how much you care about the people around you (thanks for running over to check on me when you saw me after a certain ~controversial~ editorial published). You’re going to be an incredible sports editor next year.

Desiree, Katie and Dan: One little known fact about me is that I wish I would have been a photojournalist, and I think that’s why I’m so amazed by the work you all do. You’re all so creative, team-oriented and fun to be around – and you’ve done a great job photographing our little piece of Hatchet history. Thank you so much for that.

Jeanine, Ryan, Robin, Lillianna and Avery: I’ve watched the news section grow and change a lot over the past few years. Despite everything, you all have done so much for this paper. I couldn’t do what any of you did – come into your positions ready to roll, and eager to take on unfamiliar territory. I have a tremendous amount of respect for each and every one of you, and I’m glad to have known you. Whether you’ll be a part of the news team next year or not, thanks for doing your part to keep this school (somewhat) honest.

Ellie: Your organizational habits are proof that you and I are cut from the same cloth. Trust me, no one appreciates a well-structured planner system more than I do. I admire your bravery so much, and wish I had half the confidence that you do. Your reporting skills are off the charts, and I know you’ll leave an important mark on this paper. Next year, you’re going to lead the staff to do great things – and I’m so excited for you.

Melissa: I’m so proud of you and how much you’ve grown over this past year. From the moment you spoke up in your very first Ed Board meeting last spring, I knew you’d be a great partner in crime. You’re smart and witty, willing to step up and always an efficient worker. I constantly find myself admiring your desire to speak your mind and make sure others know exactly what you have to say – and that will make you successful, not just as the opinions editor, but in life. Thank you for all of the help and support you’ve given me this year. Keep pushing the boundaries and calling people out next volume. I know you’ll be great at it.

Irene: You’ll be a great addition to staff next year as contrib. Welcome to the family! It’s been a privilege watching you grow as one of my writers. Thank you for being so dependable and willing to pitch in. I can’t wait to see what you and Melissa accomplish next volume.

Zach: Well, well, well. Despite your endless taunting for my Snapchat presence and the face I make in every photo I’ve ever taken, I’ve enjoyed spending this volume sitting across from you. You let me (and everyone) vent, distract me with pictures of dogs when I need them most and constantly boost staff morale while making sure we’re still doing our best work. The Hatchet would not exist without all of the love you have for it, and every day I appreciate how much you put into it. I know you’re going to go out there and kill it because you already do. I hope when you read this, you say, “Hmm, true.” By the way, will you go to prom with me?

Eva: My friendship with you has undoubtedly been one of the best things about being a part of The Hatchet. You’ve let me cry with you, you’ve always had my back and you’ve indulged my introversion by standing with me in the corner at parties. Our collection of selfies is very, very important to me. I’m so thankful that I’ve been able to come to you when things are good, or when they’re bad. This volume, you’ve been a great support system for me and everyone on staff because you care so genuinely about us, and about this paper. You are, without a doubt, one of the kindest and funniest people I’ve ever met. I promise, next year I’ll be around for plenty of endless apps nights at T.G.I. Friday’s.

Sam: Remember junior year when I told you to join The Hatchet, and you said no? But then you did, and now you’ve spent more time in the townhouse in front of InDesign than you ever thought you would? You’re welcome. In all honesty, though, I’m so glad you joined our Hatchet family because you fit right in. I don’t think I could have gotten through this year without you there to help me – and more importantly, to listen to me. You’re my rock. I’m really, really proud of you for taking on design this year, and of course, I appreciate you putting up with all of my picky requests to change headlines and move pull quotes. I know feelings are gross. But since you’re my Hatchet coworker, roommate of three (nonconsecutive) years and literal twin, I have to say that I love you. I know I’m really lucky to have you in my life. Thank you.

My Vol. 112 editorial board: I love each and every one of you. It’s been a fantastic volume, and we’ve done incredible work – I don’t care what anyone says. Thank you so much for supporting and helping me get through this year. I truly would not have survived without you. I’m so proud of you all, and I’ll miss Ed Board the most. You were my favorite part of the week. xoxo.

Jonah, Jonah, Jonah: You’re my writer, my college dad, one of my best friends, my love. Together, we’ve endured many Hatchet parties, edits from three different editors in chief (yikes) and so much more. The things you’ve written over the past few years have been some of our most-read, most popular pieces of opinions content. And well, really, that says it all.

Eric: Thanks for keeping me grounded (i.e. laughing at me and making me laugh), and for making sure I remember what The Hatchet looks like to the outside world. Sorry you never got to be the subject of an expose.

Karen, Sam, Peri and Hannah: So rarely do people stay this close all throughout college, but we did it. I remember warning you all when I became an editor that it would take up a lot of my time. None of you even blinked an eye. Thank you so, so much for that. I love you.

Mom, Dad and the family: I told you all to stop reading the comments, but I know you never did. No matter what they said, though, I knew I could fall back on all of you. Thanks for all of your love and support, and for sharing all of my work. It means so much.

Vol. 113: Keep it up, keep them honest and keep calling them out. Most importantly, let this newspaper change you. I promise, it will.

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