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An Ode to My Past, Present and Future Self – Massachusetts Daily Collegian

There is endless beauty in the principle of transparency, but when I'm completely transparent with myself, there's nothing worse than trying to put together nuggets of words about your own life.

I knew immediately that it would be difficult to summarize nearly half a decade of my experiences at the University of Massachusetts. That's pretty ironic, isn't it? For someone who has devoted nearly his entire college career to journalism, writing a single column proved to be a painstakingly difficult task.

But as I forced myself to type out every letter and corresponding key on my laptop, I realized I had done one too many times – once again somehow managing to serve as my biggest obstacle.

There is a kind of sweetness in this realization, a comfort in knowing my own limits. Setting boundaries is crucial to our own health. I rely more and more on this comfort, especially since graduation is just around the corner. Change can surprise everyone and invade our lives, but we have to be honest with ourselves.

This is why I have developed such an admiration for journalism, because at its heart is the principle of transparency – a concept that we must embrace in our personal lives too.

I find myself clinging to whatever familiarity I can find to stabilize my fears of what lies ahead. So, for my future self, hold on to those who support you and keep them as a constant in your life. My former self hopes you look for more ways to build your confidence because you deserve every last ounce of respect.

It's easy to get lost in the past and present these days, but we also need to examine where we are and move on. There were times when I felt helpless or experienced a strong sense of absurdity because I was dreaming about my post-graduate future. Where I struggled with turbulent waves of ambition and panic.

I don't think I was ever comfortable writing about myself until last summer. I remember a similar situation where I had to write a short personal essay and was really stumped. I ended up writing an article about growing up with OCD, an OCD. I've been dealing with OCD for as long as I can remember, and I will say this: It is not the same as hyperorganization. It doesn't come across as a guilt-ridden Type A person who's deliriously thinking about his out-of-place shoes. Instead, OCD may cause you to repair your shoes 15 times because you “just have to do it right.” Whatever that means.

When I think about this state of affairs, I wish I could hug my past self and tell her that it's okay to deal with intrusive thoughts and compulsions and that I could rather find comfort in her consistency. Instead of feeling chronic shame and confusion, I need to recognize that it is not a defining characteristic of who I am.

I want to carry this newfound transparency that I am uncovering within myself long into the future. In the meantime, for myself and the entire news team, student journalism has a special place in my heart and the curiosity that drives us all is impeccable. If we don't write, who will?

So much has happened in the last few weeks – from protests to opening rows at the fair – but I'm incredibly excited about the future of this section.

Daniel, keep wearing your purple hat (just make sure you don't lose it) and follow up on court filings. Abby, you're going to kill it. You amaze me every day with your quick-witted humor and top-level driving skills, not to mention your willingness to help others edit stories when there's an incredible amount on the desk.

To next year's assistants: you deserve the very best, and I can't wait to read your dynamic, tireless reporting. To my beat writers: Thank you for putting up with Grace and I's shenanigans. I love you all and you are so talented.

To Grace Lee, because your full name just sounds better: I have fully come to terms with your ancestral connection to Emily Dickinson. It speaks for your wonderful writing skills and consistent journalistic work. I am so grateful to call you my colleague, but also my friend. I can't wait to see where life takes you in the next few years.

Mahi, you are a gem. I remember coming into the office and barely knowing you, but you were a familiar face. Now there is complete transparency between us and I wouldn't have it any other way. Your commitment to reporting on student groups and complex issues on campus will not go unnoticed, nor will the manner in which you carry yourself to your writers. I'm still impressed that you study chemical engineering and still manage to produce stories.

Jack, thank you so much for leading us into what honestly felt like a battle at times. It's not easy managing an entire news team, especially since there have been a lot of new writers this year and local coverage has increased. I can't wait to see what you cover next.

I am so proud of you all because the last few weeks have shown that we are capable of almost anything. If you're looking for a quote or important information, it's so nice to find out everything. To the point where transparency is front and center.

Olivia Capriotti was deputy news editor. She can be reached at [email protected].

Anna Harden

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