Finding my place.

I never thought that, in my final semester of my undergrad, I would find my “place” in one of the places I tried to find it my first semester here.

As a freshman, my first few weeks on campus were painful — I was friends with my roommate and a few other people, and they all left for the weekends. I’d hole up in my dorm eating EasyMac for every meal and avoiding the outside world. Finally, my now best friend (even though he graduated, rawr) pulled me into his friend group, and I stopped being anti-social.

Sometime around there (I actually can’t remember when), I decided to start writing for the Eagle Eye, our newspaper here on campus. I would go to the meetings, pluck a couple of stories, race around campus for interviews, and have a byline every Thursday. It was all sorts of fun… until I realized how much of a popularity contest it was. Getting on the front page was based on who had the best-written story. Mine never won out.

I remember one meeting very distinctly. We were going through the stories, listing them off, and then at the end of the list we’d choose who would do which story. I got my hand up first for a story about our cell phone emergency alert system on campus. When the section editor gave me the story, another student (I believe he was a junior at the time) lashed out, basically calling me an incompetent bitch, and for the rest of the meeting kept talking under his breath about how he could write the story a hundred times better than I could.

Needless to say, after that week I had a hard time going back.

For a while after that, I’d just write for specific section editors — mostly opinions. While my opinions were never really anything substantial, I was still getting experience and enjoying writing.

Somewhere during my junior year, I just stopped contributing all together. I think part of it was because I was really busy, but another part of it was because I just wasn’t having fun with it anymore. Writing opinion after opinion wasn’t doing anything for me. I had found my niche in other things, like our Writing Center, and was content with that.

Fast forward to last semester: I found out that the paper was doing a total overhaul. Things were changing, both layout wise and staff wise. While I knew I wouldn’t be able to dedicate much time, I knew a good friend was going to be the opinions editor, and I figured I could write for him in my spare time.

Fast forward again, to now.

I went to the first meeting with a couple of story ideas in mind. I walked out of there knowing that I’d be reconfiguring my schedule to make Eagle Eye a big part of my final semester on campus. At the first meeting, I offered my editing services to the copy editor, on an as-needed basis throughout the semester. After the first issue went out, I became co-copy editor with the original copy editor and our “word custodian.”

So yes, I went from just writing occasionally to having a pretty big hand in the paper.

I spent two nights this week down in the newsroom with the staff, going over all of our sections multiple times and polishing everything. The three hours I spent down there on Tuesday night and the almost four hours I spent down there last night flew by — I truly had an awesome time. While we had productive evenings both nights, we laughed, sang, and made fun of each other. I can’t remember the last time I had that much fun.

Needless to say, I think I’ve found my true niche. I wish I’d found it sooner — I jokingly told my co-copy editor last night that I’ll spend the spring semester driving up to LHU every Wednesday night just to copy edit the Eagle Eye before it goes to print.

There are going to be many things that I miss about LHU when I leave. For starters, the Writing Center. I’ve worked here (I say here because that’s where I am right now) for four years, and it’s been wonderful to me. The experience has been great; I’ve tutored some truly awesome kids, and even though the admins moved us out of our cozy little classroom and into the library, I’ve had a wonderful time working here.

Second, University Players. Last night, I was named “Spotlight Member” for all of the things I’ve done to help the group over the past few months. I was truly honored — I’m not very active in the theatre program anymore, so I didn’t think I’d ever be Spotlight Member. This group is very near and dear to me. I’ve made some incredible friends and memories throughout my three(ish) years of being involved.

Third, the HOPE Center (my other job). While I’ve only worked there a short time, it’s been a very rewarding job. I’ve gotten some great experience planning events and working with people to do something that truly matters. The job has given me an outlook that I never thought I’d have, and it’s enabled me to do some soul-searching that I never thought I’d do.

And now I can add the Eagle Eye to that list. In just a couple of short weeks, the staff and paper have become truly important to me. I’ve been pushed back toward the journalism path, a path I thought I’d given up. It’s also made me the happiest I’ve been in a long time.

This post became a lot longer than I thought it would be — but I figure I’ll need to post a reflection at some point anyway, so why not do it now?

I guess what I’m trying to say is that while I’ve been running myself ragged and pretty stressed this semester… it’s all worth it to be involved in such amazing things.

(I think that, over the next few weeks, I’m going to try and write reflections about all different parts of my college career… bear with me, readers; I’m nearing the end of a really important part of my life.)

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