Being editor in chief of the Optimist this year changed me for the worse.
For obvious reasons, this job made me a worse student. Lines were blurred between the work I was doing for class and the work I was doing for the next day’s paper. I couldn’t remember what would affect my GPA and what would show up on tomorrow’s front page. This led to both some bad grades and some newspapers continually missing deadline.
It also made me a worse roommate. I’m the roommate who would loudly come home late, jingling keys and knocking things over in the dark, after working on the paper all night in the newsroom or being M.I.A. for 24 hours at a time.
Perhaps a more drastic change, this job made me worse at having opinions. I used to be fairly stubborn in my views, but being editor put me in a place where I had no choice but to listen to others’ perspectives. This threatened my own beliefs in a way that was uncomfortable.
This job robbed me of pride. I made mistakes that were not just public, but often shared on Facebook with my name by it. Being editor means being responsible for everything, good and bad, and taking credit for every decision, even when they’re not your own. I became worse at my habit “not backing down,” that I had practiced for so long.
This job made me a worse boss. I’ve always been the one in charge of things. Even when I try not to be in the leadership position, it thrusts itself upon me. That’s probably how I became editor in the first place. But after managing a staff of 40 very different personalities and skill sets, I became worse at being that boss. I learned it doesn’t work to just tell people what to do, but I have to make them want to do their job and do it well.
To say I’m a different person after leaving this office is an understatement. I feel more exhausted, more defeated and more burnt out than I ever have before.
And yet, if I could do it all over again, I would do it the exact same way. Because I may be worse at a lot of things I knew how to do, but getting worse at those things has changed me in ways that I didn’t know I needed to change. And as a result, changed me for the better.
Being a worse student made me better at balancing responsibilities and commitments. Being a worse roommate made me better at communicating with those who love me and want to know when I’ll be home.
I’m better at saying “I’m sorry,” which has given me no choice but to find humility and empathy where I previously had none. I’m better at listening to others and I’m better at understanding that some opinions are neither wrong nor right. I’m a worse boss, but I’m a better leader.
I’m tired, and I’m burnt out, but I’m a harder worker, faster learner and stronger writer than I was nine months ago.
So, as I clean out my small editor’s office and begin the search for a new job, I can only hope I find something else that’s challenging enough to make me worse at some things for the sake of being better at others.