Before I came to college, I didn’t really cry a lot. There was that period as a kid where I threw tantrums to get my way, but I’d like to think I outgrew that, at least by middle school. Still, I have to admit, I’ve had my fair share of breakdowns since I came to the UA, specifically at the Daily Wildcat.
When I first joined the paper my sophomore year, I was thrilled to be reporting. Writing three or four stories a week on top of taking five classes? No problem. It wasn’t until my second semester on staff that the workload started to get to me. Suddenly I was taking on last-minute assignments and leaving classes early to make sure I could finish a story on deadline. There were plenty of nights I worried I wouldn’t be able to balance everything.
But as hard as that year turned out to be, my next semester as news editor was the hardest I’d ever had. My life was consumed by the paper and everything else sort of fell by the wayside. And that’s when the tears came. One night in particular, when some of my reporters weren’t turning in stories and others were turning in ones I had to rewrite, I found a bench outside where I had one of my first breakdowns. It’s a bench I revisited a lot that semester.
Still, I wanted to be editor-in-chief the next semester and I hoped, when I got the position, that it would be smooth sailing. But again, I found myself in a situation where I couldn’t keep the tears from coming. I had my next significant breakdown on a chair in a professor’s office about a staff member deciding to quit and a particularly difficult story I didn’t want to run in the paper.
The last time I cried was at the Daily Wildcat banquet last week, where I had to say goodbye to the people and to the paper I love so much. That moment will stick with me forever as one of the saddest of my life. Despite all of the difficult times I faced while working at the paper, it’s the place where I grew up and the place I’ll miss the most.
I’ve cried a lot during these past four years, but I’ve also learned a lot. I’ve learned that it’s OK to fall apart sometimes. And that your friends, professors and coworkers will always have a shoulder for you when it happens. I’ve learned that even though it seems silly to cry alone on a bench while passersby avert their eyes, it does provide relief.
Even though I graduate on Friday and it’s a little late to realize this, I finally understand that it will all work out in the end. The stories that weren’t turned in on deadline will be replaced and the paper will still print the next day. The staff you lose will be replaced by people even more dedicated to the paper than the last. The difficult story you didn’t want to run won’t run and life will continue.
As we go off into the adult world, we’re going to face rejection, embarrassment and criticism. Some nights we’re going to fall apart. Leaving behind everything we know is scary, but we’ve dealt with enough difficult situations during these past four years to understand that we can make it.
And when it gets too hard, let yourself cry, because I promise it’ll be OK in the end.