In the aftermath of the 2016 presidential election, I, along with many of my peers, needed time to comprehend what happened—and to be honest, I’m still trying to come to terms with the results. It was hard to articulate my emotions—primal ones of grief, fear, despair, and rage—into rational thought, and top off a facade of complacency by slapping on a fake smile before heading to class, all the while being acutely aware of my identity in this country. I didn’t sleep that night—instead, I watched the sun rise from my room and saw the dawning of a new chapter in the story of America.
Soon will be the much less vitriolic elections for the members of the 2017 Heights board, marking the end of my time as features editor. Granted, the future of the free world isn’t completely dependent on The Heights elections—nevertheless, it’s a time of transition and a time of reflection.
My first lesson as a student of science that has since solidified during my time with features is that I will always be a perpetual student, always seeking knowledge and so changing the way I see the world. The lessons I’ve learned on The Heights have been magnified on a national scale, with changing demographics and emphasis on various social issues making apparent that cultural metamorphosis is in our nation’s genetic makeup, resulting in a story woven by a thousand different threads. And my personal story at Boston College, a fractal of other unique stories from individuals I have come to know through my affiliation with The Heights, is itself one of those threads that weave into the fabric of our nation.
By writing for features, I sampled all that this University had to offer by living vicariously through others, even if it was only for a 30-minute interview. I pause and think of what could have been, as I think everyone else does once in a while—how history’s ripple effects influence the stories I have come to know, which have ripple effects of their own that influence what comes next. I think of the stories I didn’t get the chance to write, the stories I could have written better, the people I would have liked to meet, and I question if I managed to reach my full potential. But after some time to reflect—and in light of recent events—I’ve come to reconcile the feeling of coming up short.
BC’s motto is “Ever to Excel.” As individual students, we’re constantly pushing our limits in our quest to learn more about ourselves. As a collective, as The Heights, that means we’re constantly changing, constantly improving, to keep up with the times and keep our readers interested.
Despite all that we do to improve the newspaper, however, I don’t think we’ll ever reach the height of our existence for which we are so named. We’re only human—we might neglect our responsibilities, we might crank out a poorly written article, we might anger a few readers. We’re not perfect, but I think that’s a good thing. Think about it—should you plateau, you will stagnate. It’s that dynamic ebb and flow of life on the Heights—whether the campus or the newspaper—that’s the lifeblood of the newspaper, much more so than the ink and toner of the office printers.
With all that in mind, I’ve accepted that I will never reach that height—I’ll never perfect my writing style, I’ll never have a definitive opinion, I’ll never write the end-all and be-all of articles. And for that I am thankful. Because every time I’ve attended an event or interviewed someone and listened to what they had to say, I became undeniably different. The stories they chose to share with me became a part of my story, just as they have become a part of the newspaper’s, and by extension, the University’s. And every time I’ve sat in front of my computer, every time I opened a new Word document, every time I wrote an article, column, or review—indeed, every time I wrote—I was not the person I once was.
I believe that writing for The Heights comments on what makes us human. Writing for The Heights is just a more formal, organized way of storytelling, really. But why do we tell stories? Why do we want to hear others’ stories? Yes, we can learn more about our society this way, but it also gives us the opportunity to learn more about ourselves, juxtaposed with the people around us. Thus, being acutely aware of that storytelling tradition, knowing how to tell a good story, and constantly striving to improve yourself are so important to be able to write effectively, especially for features.
So with each page we turn of the newspaper, we turn to a new page in our own stories, and turn to a new page in the story of The Heights that began almost 100 years ago. Looking back, I can say with confidence I have become a part of features just like those individuals who have wandered into the pages of the newspaper since its inception.
So as I watched the sun rise the first day after the election, I resolved to be unapologetically myself that day, the next day, and always, since it’s the best way to fight homogeneity. I’ve learned that learning is not confined to the classroom—rather, it is out there in a strange, wide world that I have only begun to know from my time with features. With the current state of the nation, I am blessed to have been able to grow up in a community that encourages diversity, where each person’s story deserves to be told.
Storytelling is written in our genes, and I hope that one day, I’ll be able to tell my children a good one before I tuck them into bed. But for now, in my own little world at BC, I’ll start here: what’s your story? I’d love to write about it.
Featured Image by Kelsey McGee / Heights Editor