Looking Back

Phew, what a semester it’s been.

As I wrap up my second semester of writing for The Chase, I am filled with a multitude of feelings – relief, sadness, disappointment, pride, self-doubt – I’ll admit, some of them are contradictory in nature…but that’s par for this course.

Thinking back to the very first article I wrote for The Chase at the beginning of my junior year, before I had even chosen Journalism as my emphasis, I can see the many ways in which I have grown as a writer since then. After the struggles and set-backs of this semester, I have been shown the many areas where I still very much need growth.

It feels safe to say that it’s been a difficult semester for a majority of students. Perhaps that’s wrong, (I hope it is) but it most certainly has been for me. It specifically presented challenges as a staff writer for The Chase that I did not anticipate. With almost all school events cancelled, the campus closed, and the rest of the world under various stages of lockdowns, there was a significant absence of events to cover this semester. I must commend our editor, Rebecca Darrup, for her ability to sniff out important topics, events and assignments in spite of this – which allowed The Chase staff to keep writing week to week. Her calm leadership, adaptability, perseverance and encouragement not only kept the student newspaper going, but kept me grounded as well.

The inability, however, to go cover events in person, meet strangers, take photos and practice what I view as “real reporter” stuff made me feel pretty lost, and I’ll even admit, a little bit cheated. Looking at the situation at the beginning of the semester, I didn’t see how I was going to learn the skills that I needed, the training that this practicum is supposed to provide.

How wrong I was.

Sure, there were aspects of the process that we just couldn’t do, but out of that absence came a whole new set of skills to learn. Some of those, which were important, were learning how to cover events remotely, conduct phone interviews and make contacts and connections without being able to actually meet people.

But the really hard skills to learn, the ones that I didn’t even want to learn because they go against my whole temperament, were somewhat forced upon me this semester, and they are perhaps the things I needed to learn most. This semester writing for The Chase, I learned how to ask for help when I didn’t even want it. I learned how improvise. I learned how to rely on others (I really didn’t like that one). I was reminded the importance of patience, and I hopefully learned some of that as well. More than anything, though, I just flat out learned how fail. I failed so much this semester. I set so many goals and didn’t meet them. That doesn’t sound very glorious or positive, I know. But as someone who has a need to be in control and a crippling fear of failure, learning that I could fail, at something that I controlled, over and over, turned out to be a cathartic process, and a development paramount to my personal growth. I’m still not great at accepting it; I still have a long way to go and a great deal to learn. But isn’t that the whole point? To constantly keep learning and growing? This semester of my senior year provided that opportunity in excess, and didn’t come without growing pains. But as it comes to an end, I am able to look back and see purpose in it, and there’s not much I can ask for beyond that.

I hope that through your own personal struggles this semester or year, that you are able to look back and find purpose in it. I hope the next year of our lives comes with less struggle and more joy. But if it doesn’t, I hope that we’ve all been galvanized in our recognition that we can handle the struggle, grow from it, and come out the other end better, stronger people.

Here’s to hoping, learning, and failing.

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