This is my goodbye column, but it’s not my last column. Which feels a bit awkward.
Usually when an editor writes her goodbye column, she’s sentimentally saying sayonara for good. But I guess you could say I’m retiring early or, maybe more accurately, partially retiring. I’ll no longer be Editor in Chief of the Optimist, but I’m sticking around on the editorial board as a senior next year.
However, bear with me as this retiree reminisces unoriginally on her life-changing experiences as an Optimist staff member:
1. Your work is important, even when it isn’t
I’m fully aware that the majority of the student body doesn’t read anything I write. The Optimist staff puts a lot of late night, homework-neglecting, panic-stricken hours into each issue. And this is not unique to us – a large number of students sacrifice for things they care about. And it’s important. Even if the masses aren’t wowed by what you’ve slaved over, it matters.
When we documented the new building initiative, we were documenting history. Maybe 50 years from now, people are going to look back and refer to it as historical documentation even if it stayed unread in the racks. You make ripples with your work, so make them useful.
2. You’re going to fail
But even if you do your work well, you’ll fail eventually. You’ll make a mistake, probably several. When you do, own up to it, don’t let it define you and then learn from it.
The first time I interviewed someone for an Optimist story, I hung up the phone, sighed in relief and promptly realized I forgot to get her name. Rookie mistake. I collect mistakes like some people collect dirt from foreign countries, but I’m discovering how to accept responsibility for them and learn from them. It’s hard.
3. Telling stories matters
“So what do you want to do with your journalism major after college?” I’m not a journalism major. “Oh, but you’re editor of the Optimist. Why?” I’m a multimedia major who just got lucky. I have no intention to work for any news outlet, but even if it doesn’t seem relevant, my experience here has been invaluable.
I’m passionate about telling stories. Whether it’s through news, film or a good design, I think storytelling is essential to who we are and that living a story worth telling is what everyone wants to do. When we tell other people’s stories, we’re doing noble work that recognizes that other people matter, and I think that’s kind of beautiful.
So thank you for reading some of my stories I’ve shared here. Now I’m stepping off my soap box. It’s been a pleasure.