Learn lessons the hard way

Photo courtesy of Blake Israel

It seems fitting that I should end my tenure at the Technique, and at Tech, in the same manner that I started it: procrastinating, and unsure of where to start on my last written piece. This time, however, it’s not because of a lack of desire or drive on my behalf. Instead, I find myself unsure of where to begin my final article, much less where it should end up. It has felt easier, frankly, to avoid it altogether. Putting three years of my life into a quick summary that can fit into half a newspaper page is nearly impossible, and I can’t help but imagine what I’m leaving out. But not being able to fit everything into words is a poor excuse to avoid constructing what is, by all accounts, the article that I’ve been most looking forward to writing. 

I remember my predecessor, during my training for this job, cautioning me on the challenges that would lie ahead. I, in my naivety, heard but dismissed many of her concerns as the result of a bad hand being dealt. Late nights, burnout and exhaustion, while historic parts of the job of the editor-in-chief, were something I could avoid if I simply prepared enough. Of course, hindsight is 20/20, and looking back on it I feel rather foolish for believing I could break a trend that’s older than my father, but it stung nonetheless when these things, despite my best efforts, found me. Positivity and ambition were things I’m happy I had going into this position. Foolhardiness and, as a result, lack of preparedness, were things that, if I had it to do over again, I may have considered leaving at the door on my way in. With this trifecta of reckless traits, it took no time at all to realize that it feels quite a bit different from the top down than it did working from the bottom. Things I took for granted were now squarely on my plate, and the scale of the position very quickly began to overwhelm me, just as my predecessor had warned me may happen. 

The Technique had been a source of stability in my life for two years up to that point, and the routine nature of my previous positions made it easy to enjoy the week-to-week activities of the paper. My new position was an entirely different ball game, and the challenges that came with it proved to be not only new to my time on the Technique, but new to me entirely. 

While I gained an understanding of leadership that I fear I may not have been able to earn otherwise, the road to learning those lessons was not always easy. In fact, the path gave me a myriad of things to have ruminating in the back of my mind at all times, week to week and month to month.

Uncertainty and doubt were among the first to rear their ugly heads, providing an endless source of distraction to keep me preoccupied outside of the paper, but plenty more negative thoughts managed to infiltrate my otherwise flawless senior year, leaving me with a bit of mess. A mess that I’m still working to completely unpack. 

For all of the struggle that the job came with though, I wouldn’t trade it for anything. The best of life often needs a sprinkle of these stressors in order to be reached, and while I don’t personally endorse seeking out hardship in the name of bettering yourself, I’m glad that they found me and given me the opportunity to grow just a little more than I may otherwise have. That doesn’t make hardship any easier to deal with in the moment. Many long nights were spent stressing over the progress and direction of the paper, and whether or not I was doing it justice. I am, after all, a blip in the enormity of this paper’s history. It didn’t need me when I got here, and it won’t miss me when I’m gone.

 But that doesn’t mean my work was for naught, nor that I am resentful for my time here. Rather, I am extremely fortunate to have been granted the opportunity to both lead a historic part of the Institute and make friends that I believe will last far longer than the time I spent at the Technique. It is sobering to be saying goodbye to a paper that has given me so much and a staff that has taught me more than I thought possible in our three years together. But I’m not sad about leaving. I’m happy for what was, thankful for what I’ve gained and hopeful that the future is just a little brighter than I left it.