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Wednesday, June 19, 2024
The Observer

How does knowing the end affect the journey?

On Sept. 12, 2019, I achieved greatness. I wrote my first news article for The Observer. 

The 618-word article was arguably the most researched, well-crafted story The Observer had ever seen. The story offered a behind-the-scenes, intimate look into one of the most beloved traditions at Our Lady’s University: the annual Lewis House of Pancakes (LHOP). 

Rereading my preview of LHOP resulted in a few moments of cringe given some of the word choices from my freshman-year self and the fact that I hadn’t learned the importance of paraphrasing a large portion of a news article. But, the rush of the vivid memory I have of sitting in the hallway finishing my story (a whole 18 hours before the deadline!) and rereading the account I created from scratch trumps the self-deprecating comments in my head. Rereading my first bylined report while writing this also raises a question in my mind.

How does knowing the end affect the journey?

I often say I found my place in the news department because I don’t like sharing opinions or talking about myself. Writing opinion columns has always felt like a selfish act to me. It took me some time — and a conversation with a friend over a tasty quesadilla in South Dining Hall — to realize that not jumping into debates isn’t this terrible thing I had convinced myself into believing it was.

But, that doesn’t mean what I do isn’t selfish at times. In working this job, I’ve learned that even writing and reporting news stories can be selfish. The first time you see your byline in print excites you and motivates you to want to write another, and another and then another. Soon enough, you’re hooked, and four years later you’re writing a farewell column for the organization you’ve dedicated a significant portion of your collegiate experience to.

Come this Sunday, I’ll step down as Editor-in-Chief of The Observer. The day has lingered in the back of my mind and has been sketched in my planner since the beginning of the year. Honestly, I thought I would be sadder once the day was only three nights away, and I’ve struggled to figure out why I’m not more emotional.

In an interesting moment Tuesday night, while editing a basketball story, I understood what Mike Brey meant when he said he was “not at all” emotional before his last home game as men’s basketball head coach. He had mentally prepared for his time to go. I’ve mentally prepared for mine.

And the journey to this Sunday has come with a reminder to myself: I’m more than a position. The people I care about have appreciated me whether I was a news writer, an editor or  — pretty soon — nothing at all. 

Instead of sadness, I feel pride in the work that all of my fellow student journalists completed in the past year. I think about our sports writers and photographers who worked before, during and after the biggest football game of the year to publish complete coverage immediately following the game. I think about how two of our writers had the brilliant idea to recruit ChatGPT to write the lede for a story about ChatGPT usage at Notre Dame. I think about Viewpoint columns that made me cry. I think about the creative people that dedicated their time and energy to launch several new projects for the paper — including a new TikTok account and a reader-generatedseries that answers the questions readers care about most.

Last semester, I took Introduction to Creative Writing, easily one of my favorite courses at Notre Dame. On the first day of class, we began with the reason to write: “There’s no worse feeling than bearing an untold story inside you.”

It might not come as a surprise if you’ve been paying attention, but I have untold stories that I don’t share. The reality is that so does everyone else on this campus, and it’s our job at The Observer to tell those untold stories. 

I might not have had 23 seasons like Mike Brey, but if anything, I know I’ve helped tell untold stories in my time at The Observer and that’s enough to feel good about stepping down.

The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.