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.
My first experience with The Hatchet was actually a mistake.
I came to GW with the knowledge that I wanted to study journalism, and with a keen interest in joining The Hatchet. So, at the beginning of the summer before I left for college, I marked off The Hatchet’s open house on my calendar. I was the epitome of the bright-eyed, bushy-tailed, blatantly naive freshman.
After several months of anticipation, I showed up to the open house wearing a crisp blue button down and khakis. Looking like an excited ex-Best Buy employee, I took a deep breath and knocked on the paint chipped door of the old townhouse on G Street, where I was greeted by the one-and-only Zach Montellaro.
“What are you doing here?” Zach said in his classic grumpy New Yorker way.
Obviously, this was not the response I was expecting. He went on to explain that the open house had been postponed, but still took the time to show me around and tell me about The Hatchet’s work.
This interaction, however embarrassing and awkward it may have been, lead me to Zach, my first editor and a friend to this day. But more importantly, it lead me to the most important lesson I’ve learned in college: It’s important to fuck up.
I’ve spent so much of my life terrified of not being perfect. And in my quest to control every aspect of my life, I’ve learned that you can actually control very few.
When you’re a little kid, you look at adults and think they have a divine plan for everything. Now that I am (sort of) an adult, I’ve quickly come to realize that no one really knows what they’re doing. Unfortunately, there is no detailed map of your life noting which of your choices are wrong and which are right, so you can’t waste your time and energy worrying about it.
Nothing in life is definitive – you just have to trust that you have enough experience, logic and luck to make the best path for yourself. And with that knowledge, I’m learning to relinquish control.
I’m not 100 percent there yet. I still have some hang-ups and anxieties that I’m working on. But now I measure my self-worth more in terms of my own happiness, and less in terms of my accomplishments, or how people view me. Without The Hatchet, I would have never realized how important it is to just let go.
So on that note, I’m letting go.
And of course, a few thank yous are due:
Jake: You constantly remind me that it’s okay to be myself. Thank you for your candor and your unique spirit. I can always count on you for a ridiculous story, or at least an update on the latest season of RuPaul. Sometimes I think about when you first joined our little video section – I’m so proud of your growth, both as a journalist and as a person. It’s been a pleasure working with you, and I know the section is in good hands. You are my Hatchet Little, and we are united in the sacred bond of keeping The Hatchet weird. Don’t forget that mission going forward.
Zach: I still can’t believe I get to read your name on Playbook every day! I was always impressed by your commitment to The Hatchet, so I’m not surprised you’re already doing big things only one year out of college. Thank you for taking me into the video section. Without you, I would not be the journalist I am today. I don’t know if you remember this, but at the end of my freshman year you asked if I would ever consider applying to be a video editor. If you hadn’t asked, I probably wouldn’t have applied. So I have to say: Thank you for having confidence in me. It helped me recognize confidence in myself.
Diana: I’m so lucky to have you as a mentor in my life. When we worked together, you never ceased to amaze me with your creativity in video and your drive to make the section the best it could be. You pushed me to be a stronger videographer and a better editor. Thanks for fielding my phone calls when I needed job advice, it definitely paid off!
Nora Princiotti: I’m so happy The Hatchet brought us together. I remember meeting you at my very first Hatchet Prom, where you took me under your wing in more ways than one. I’m so glad we’ve stayed in touch since you graduated, and even happier that I get to have your back in D.C.! You’re a fantastic journalist, and an even better friend. Thanks for explaining sports to me, steering me away from certain boys and sharing my love for Massachusetts.
Halley: I still remember meeting you on the floor of the old townhouse on G Street! We’ve sat through a lot of video section meetings together, but more importantly, we’ve run a lot of video section meetings together. You are genuinely one of the kindest people I’ve ever met. From watching you work with our video babies, you’ve reminded me that patience is a virtue I lack. You are sweet, sensitive toward others, and simply radiate positivity – never lose that.
Sarah Mann: You’re probably the only person I know who could pull off juggling graduate school and a Hatchet editor position at the same time! Thank you for bearing with me the first year I led the video section, it was a learning process. I appreciate your help more than you may realize. Side note: I still miss your chocolate chip cookies.
Kellie: You have the rare combination of video-savvy technical finesse and creative journalistic ideas. One of my favorite parts of being your editor was hearing your pitches for stories. You always manage to find a unique topic, or a creative way to cover something. Keep up the good work with the section next year!
Keren & Arianna: Best of luck to both of you for the coming year! I know we’re leaving the video section in good hands. Keren: I remember when you first joined The Hatchet and I can sincerely say that you’ve grown so much. I’m so proud of the work you’ve done, and can’t wait to see what you’ll do as an editor. Arianna: Even though we only got to work together for one semester, I’m confident you will do great things!
Jacqueline: You were quite literally the first person I ever met from our class at GW. Who would have thought we’d come this far? Your commitment to The Hatchet is admirable and your work is impressive. I’m positive you will thrive post-grad.
Eva: I remember seeing you from across the newsroom in the old townhouse. You have a warmth about you that lights up the entire townhouse, and you brought The Hatchet together in so many ways. We are truly Hatchet veterans.
Ellie: Hey remember that time we lived together last summer? I can’t speak highly enough of the way you’ve lead The Hatchet this year. It takes someone with a whole lot of patience, energy and drive to run this organization. You’ve been a fearless leader and done some incredible work. I couldn’t have asked for a better EIC in my final chapter with The Hatchet.
To the rest of my fellow editors: Being on The Hatchet is a seriously unique experience. Sometimes you will love this job, sometimes you will hate this job, other times you will really hate this job – but ultimately, being on The Hatchet is one of the most rewarding experiences you can find at GW. I’m lucky for having worked with all of you. Thank you all for sharing this experience with me, and for all of your hard work.
My videographers: Thanks to all of you for making this job so enjoyable. The video section is a small but mighty force on The Hatchet, and without all of you, none of this would be possible! Keep making videos, I’ll be watching.
Mom and Dad: I can always count on you for at least one share/like/comment on my articles and videos. Thank you for supporting me in quite literally everything I do, but in particular thank you for supporting my choice to pursue journalism. Whenever I had my doubts about entering the field, you’ve both reminded me that this is what I’ve wanted to do since I was 10. Thank you for your guidance and encouragement, for listening to my complaints and for sharing in my victories. I am everything I am today because of the both of you, and I can’t thank you enough.