When I became The Daily Helmsman’s Editor-in-Chief this semester, I wrote in my first column that one of my New Year’s intentions was to be a good editor who served as an educator not only to his staff but also to the campus community. I can say beyond a shadow of a doubt that everyone who worked at the newspaper this semester has gotten better at what they do, and I believe I have strengthened our relationship with everyone on this campus.
Toward the middle of this semester, I realized that the end of my tenure was quickly approaching. I didn’t want to think about my final day as Editor-in-Chief. It made me sad to think about this one day ending. I’ve loved doing this so much, so instead of getting bogged down in the end of my job, I decided instead to focus on the moment I was in. We only ever have this moment. One semester to be Editor-in-Chief is not a long time, but to paraphrase Mae West, if you do it right, once is enough.
There were also many times when I did not know how I was going to finish all the work I had to do — for classes, the newspaper, my internship or otherwise. This has been a challenging but rewarding semester. I felt most accomplished when others have expressed their gratitude to me for doing the job I have done this semester.
I have learned so many things during my time as Editor-in-Chief. I have learned you will never make a decision everyone is happy with. Everybody always has something to say about what you are doing, but the thing to remember is while it may be easy for someone to judge you on the sidelines, you are the one who actually has to do it. You should only ever make decisions you can live with and that align with your values, not anyone else’s.
I have also learned you cannot change anyone’s mind for them. Other people will come to their own conclusions, with or without you. Once again, you just have to be your own person and not concern yourself with other people’s thoughts. As drag queen superstar RuPaul likes to say, “What other people think of me is none of my business.”
Just because other people think something negative about you or your thoughts and opinions does not mean you suddenly do not have them or you are not who you thought you were. Do not give other people the authority to start dictating what your life is and is not about.
The most freeing thing I have learned is some people are just never going to like you. Some people will disagree with you just to disagree with you, and there is nothing you can do about that. But the more authentic you become, the less it matters what other people have to say.
One of the qualities I have come to value the most is acceptance. Accepting the way things are right now is one of the most peaceful conclusions I have ever made. When you arrive at a place where you can agree the reality in front of you is the one that exists right now, only then you can begin to enact change. We have to start from where we are right here. We can only change things when we keep going through them, all while trying to do a good job along the way.
These past four years have been a collection of seminal moments that have led me to where I am now. It’s taken everything I have to get to here. When I started going to this university, I knew I wanted to learn more about writing and telling stories. Little did I know I would be pushed through the most intensive experience I have ever had, each semester more difficult and demanding than the last. In the end, though, I have honed my craft to both an art and a science. Writing is the way I have come to uncover the truth within myself, and now I aim to take that out into the world and uncover the truth in all our lives.
Each time I write, I find another piece of truth. Each time my motives and who I am gets questioned, I dig my heels in deeper. Each time I bemoan what is coming next, I return to the present moment. Each time I am presented with a challenge, I overcome it. Each time I make a promise, I follow through. I keep pursuing my own freedom, one story at a time.