I swiped away the notification that had popped up on my screen from Facebook saying I had memories with my cousin Robann Brown “to look back on today,” March 28, and was surprised when it opened anyway. An old status from Robann sat on my screen, and I laughed as I scrolled past it looking at the next memory. My slight smile suddenly felt bittersweet as I read the words that high school me had posted that day in 2012 at 7:49 a.m. It said, in all caps, “I made newspaper.” I had added three exclamation points, two smiley faces made out of punctuation and a “Yay.”
I’ve worked on a student publications staff every year since then. Working on the newspaper staff was my favorite part of high school. Even though the younger members repeatedly asked me to, I never came back to visit after graduation. It wasn’t because I didn’t want to or because I just forgot all about them. I didn’t come back to visit because I knew how badly I missed being in that room. I knew how much it would hurt for me to see them again and know that I was no longer a part of the team. Soon, all the familiar faces started to disappear as new names filled the staff list. At that point, I decided there was no point in stopping by the office during my spring break anyway.
When I sat down with the adviser of The Bison earlier this week to explain why I wouldn’t be coming back to staff next year, she was extremely encouraging and understanding. She told me I could come by and visit whenever I wanted, and that I’m always welcome in the office. She said once you become a part of Stu Pubs, you’re a part of this forever.
It felt reminiscent of the last conversation I had with Ms. Sorrows, my high school newspaper adviser. She told all of that year’s seniors that we would go on to do great things and to remember that the journalism room would always be our home. I learned really quickly that the things I learned in that room would stick with me forever, but I hadn’t realized that the people I worked with would be just as influential as the lessons they taught me. I’m relearning that now with The Bison staff.
When I changed my major from journalism to social work sophomore year, I didn’t think twice about staying on staff, because it’s always been a part of who I am. When I visit extended family members or talk to the people at church, they usually always ask me how it’s going with the paper before anything else. That’s kind of my identifier with most people — I’m the kid who writes for the newspaper.
Knowing that I will be letting go of something that has been such a huge part of my life for the past six years really scares me.
I visited my high school’s online newspaper to reread the last column I ever wrote for The Prospective. It was about how my love for journalism had developed over those three years in high school. I wrote, “Suddenly, I became fascinated with the stories that my peers had been harboring. I felt more comfortable with a reporter’s notebook and recorder in hand than I did at home in my favorite pair of sweatpants.”
I can see how that love for journalism transitioned into social work. After talking to the Student Publications adviser, I felt more secure about my decision. She reminded me how the skills I learned from newspaper will lend to my future career in social work. She reminded me that I’ll still be hearing people’s stories and using those interview skills.
My point in sharing this is that, even when you recognize that it’s necessary or for the best, it can be really hard to let go and move forward. This can apply to friendships, hobbies and even some dreams. So, when you have to let go, remember that those lessons will stay with you. I’ve grown a lot during my time with the newspaper staff and those experiences are a part of me now, with or without this job. It’s definitely hard to think about letting go, but I know now that I’ll keep my promise to visit. And I won’t need Facebook to remind me of these memories.