I’ve dreaded this for months. This column, graduating, writing a lede about how unprepared I was to write this lede. It’s all been staring me in the face.
People keep asking: “Are you excited to graduate?” or “Are you excited to write that lede?”
Obviously not. Like with anything else that stares me in the face for months — seriously, please stop — I’m anything but excited when it finally arrives.
That’s probably why I’m sitting here at 4 a.m., writing this column at the last possible moment and trying to churn out an acceptable product.
Being “acceptable” captures my identity better than I care to admit. It has always been an integral part of my humanity — please don’t say Hoomanity — and to me, that means being funny and being loved.
It’s why my default is desperately appealing to humor, telling a joke that my best friends might generously grade a “4/10” through a groan.
That desire to be accepted is what kept me away from journalism for so long, even though part of me always knew I wanted to be a sports writer — all I did was watch, read and listen to sports.
But I grew up being told writing was my weak suit, that my sister was the one who could be a writer. I didn’t even join my high school newspaper, and when I got to UC Berkeley, I thought I was going to be a consultant.
During my freshman year, however, I was incredibly unhappy. I realized the Haas School of Business wasn’t for me — I’m not a snake — and I was missing my niche. Without telling anyone, I started opening up transfer applications but knew I should give UC Berkeley another chance.
So I decided to apply to The Daily Californian. I was terrified, ready to literally not be accepted and be told my pipe dream of becoming a sports writer was just that. But the moment I sat down to write clips needed to apply, I was hooked. I knew. I had to write about sports.
I got accepted and set along a journey that would define my college career. I went to the top of the sports department, becoming its editor and working a job that legitimately occupied 60 hours per week and kept me in that beautiful office until the wee hours of the morning. I got to coach a flag football team that demolished the Stanford Daily. If college really is the best time of your life, that fall semester as sports editor was the one that I’ll endlessly mine for stories for the rest of my life.
But alas, that whole experience didn’t strip away my anxiety about feeling accepted. As I applied to jobs and internships for my post-college journalism career, it all came rushing back. And as rejections came in (if I was lucky enough to hear back), the full-on anxiety about feeling accepted had reared its ugly head again.
Just as things were about to get tragic, however, the Daily Cal saved me again. I was given the chance to be managing editor this summer and, once again, the Daily Cal served as a secret sanctum (shout out “Sky High”), where I can hang out until 3 a.m., explore whole new ways of thinking and be accepted.
Obviously, that’s not a permanent thing. Nothing in college is. My longing for acceptance might be, but I’ll forever be indebted to the Daily Cal for making college what it was and helping me know I could be accepted when I did what I loved.
I don’t know how to end this, so I’ll abide by the longtime Daily Cal sports editor tradition of shouting out those most important to them when they graduate.
To Sean and Michael, you never hired me. I didn’t work here when you were editors. But thank you for being the ghosts everyone in the sports department is still chasing. To Riley and Shannon, thank you for hiring me and welcoming me.
To Michelle, thank you for being the final push that forced me to apply and for being there to love stretchy wing defenders and some objectively bad NBA players with me. Alaina, I can’t say enough about what our time as an editing duo was to me. Both of you mean the world to me, and you made me the editor I ended up being.
Ritchie, it’s been an honor editing you — sometimes in real life. Austin, Chris, Vik, Ryan, Taylor, Lucy, Kapil and Devang, thanks for making my life bearable. Andrew and Sophie, I can’t wait to see what you do with the department. All of the other amazing people I’ve befriended — Haruka, Andrea, Phil, Trevor, Dani, Karim, Joshua, Levi, Emily, Ethan, Suhauna, Alex, Melissa, anyone I missed at 4 a.m. — thank you for changing my life.