Searching Outside The Lines For BC’s Stories

Living “outside the lines” was a unique challenge at BC.

I’m not that great at remembering names, and I’m even worse at naming things myself.

When I first had to give this column a title—a name, an identity—I was stuck. I didn’t have a name that fit with a creative title, like “Wiley’s Follies” or “Keeley’s Corner”—the columns of the past two arts editors. I didn’t have a specific love of any type of art, like “The Finer Things”—the column name that belongs to my lovely co-editor, Ariana. I was reduced to Googling “artsy words” to find some inspiration. Finally, in the middle of our first Wednesday night production, I found it: “Outside the Lines.”

I wasn’t too fond of the name at first. I was convinced that I could do better—that I would change it by the time my official position as assistant arts editor began.

Well, as you can see, the name stuck.

By assuming this title, I took it as an initiative to push myself outside the lines—to take risks with my writing, to have new experiences, and to finally accept myself for not fitting into any specific ideal. For not keeping myself contained within the lines.

When I think back on the past three years, I realize The Heights has allowed me to move outside the lines all along. It has allowed me to meet people I wouldn’t have met otherwise; it has enabled me to develop my writing; and it has given me a newfound confidence. The Heights has given me lifelong friendships, and lifelong memories. McElroy 113, and all of the people in it, have been an essential part of my Boston College experience, and I couldn’t be more grateful.

I could have ended the story there. But I won’t.

Here’s an epilogue to this heartwarming tale: The Heights is great, but sometimes it makes me feel so goddamn uncomfortable.

I have never felt more uncomfortable than at my freshman year elections, as I stood in front of a room of 30-plus editors, praying that the three carrot sticks I ate for dinner wouldn’t resurface as I tried to convince everyone that I was qualified to be a copy editor for a university newspaper.

I felt incredibly uncomfortable as I was interviewing a student about her mother’s struggle with breast cancer—and she began to cry as the tape recorder continued on.

I felt uncomfortable and unprepared as I sat in Eagle’s Nest waiting to interview the captain of the men’s club lacrosse team—and I was met with not one, but seven large male athletes. I was frazzled as I tried to shake all of their hands, and begged them to state their names before speaking so I could attribute the quotes correctly. Instead, they started passing the saltshaker back and forth while making loud jokes.

I have felt uncomfortable on numerous occasions when I think about who might be reading my columns—especially professors. This becomes even more embarrassing when I remember some of my topics: like butts in the media and the basic b—tch.

Finally, I feel uncomfortable admitting that I am writing this column with a box of tissues next to me, tears running down my cheeks, hoping that I can finish writing before my roommate returns.

Yes, The Heights has put me in some pretty uncomfortable situations—but it was those moments that truly pushed me outside lines, and made me a stronger person as a result. Undoubtedly, enduring the experience of elections night my freshman year was the best decision I made at BC. Not only did I get elected to be a Heights editor, but I was elected along with the current Editor-in-Chief: my roommate of three years, and my best friend.

Watching a student—a stranger—cry in front of me, with the tape recorder still running, I had to make the decision to be a journalist, or to be a friend. I pushed the pause button, stopped writing, and told her how brave she was. We ended the interview not with a handshake, but with a hug.

Going into that interview at Eagle’s Nest completely unprepared was probably the best thing that could have happened to me for that article—because I was able to truly witness the brotherhood that exists between teammates, and channel that love and pride into my story.

Being able to write about what I want, when I want—no matter who’s reading—has been incredibly liberating, and in some cases, quite fun.

And lastly, admitting that I cried while writing this column (and even a week ago, when I thought about writing this column) made me realize how hard it’s going to be to leave this organization, since I don’t really know what life is like without my twice-a-week production days.

One thing I do know, and one thing I won’t forget, is the stories that were told through these moments, and the experiences that were had: the good, the bad, and even the uncomfortable. Stories that will exist beyond this column space—and beyond the walls of McElroy 113.

Featured Image by John Wiley / Heights Photo Illustration

About Michelle Tomassi 47 Articles
"Michelle Tomassi is a senior at Boston College and a former editor for The Heights. She can often be found people-watching in the Chocolate Bar, so stop by and visit her (and maybe even share a big cookie)."