PARTING SHOT: Cutting through the fog
The Cavalier Daily taught former News editor Krista Pedersen how to ‘let things go’
In the three years I’ve written for The Cavalier Daily, this is the first time I’ve ever penned something in the first person, or something containing my own opinion. Though not shy, I’m often a private person who does not publicize my internal thoughts or share my perspective. Working for our news staff was the perfect job for me because I enjoyed managing the paper’s most difficult section, but I didn’t feel compelled to push across my opinion to our readership, attend any sporting events or entertain anyone.
I’ve long felt I’ve run out of words to give to this paper, having crammed all of them into too many last-minute stories, trying to disguise the fact that the only thing that happened at that evening’s StudCo meeting was that I fell asleep. It wasn’t always this way. I arrived at the CD full of promise and eager to please, but uneasy about the “significant” time commitment I thought I would be making as a writer (later, when I became an editor, these memories provided me with endless entertainment).
Before I got involved with the CD, college was a fog to me. As Poe wrote, and Clavell later adapted, “all that we see or seem / is but a dream within a dream.” Trancelike, I wandered through my first few semesters here, trying to find a purpose and trying to recover the ambition that somehow hadn’t graduated from high school alongside me.
A college newspaper attracts an odd variety of people. We’ve got the managerial types, the ambitious ones who juggle five organizations at a time, the aspiring writers, and plenty of others, all joined together by a love for our product and a distaste for the Honor Committee. Me, I arrived spurred by the recruitment of a high school friend, the encouragement of my beloved former mentor and a lack of creativity in choosing a collegiate extracurricular that differed from my high school one. I stayed with the paper throughout numerous frustrations because I knew that working there was making me a better and smarter person (my wonderful fraternity, Alpha Phi Omega, contributed to this as well). And, somewhere along the line, I learned the best lesson I’ve gotten in college: Appreciate the humor in everything, and learn to let things go.
Few organizations around Grounds are as transparent as the CD. All of our work is published online for anyone to find, and our organizational structure is also easily obtainable. Our online comment boards bear much ill will toward our staff, and little praise. Hell, we even pay someone to evaluate (mostly criticize) us on a weekly basis in our own pages. Working here is a thankless job in terms of public approval, but each of us has to learn to ignore unconstructive feedback and go on with life. I lost a good deal of sleep from perpetual anxiety when I first took over as News editor, and none by the time I handed off the job to my successor.
I struggle to find a suitable narrative for my time at the CD beyond learning to let things go. I couldn’t have done this job if I took offense easily (or at all), and I’ve learned to appreciate that many of the things I complain about are hilarious, if viewed more objectively. I want to write about how this newspaper taught me how truly bizarre (or unpleasant) some experiences can be, and how at the end of the day none of them matter much, but I worry that sounds too nihilistic — and I am certainly an optimist. By virtue of my position on the staff, I conducted research for The New York Times Magazine, stayed in the Rotunda until 2 a.m. waiting for the Board of Visitors to emerge with a decision that failed to reunite the University community, and sat in a courthouse listening to a video recording of George Huguely recounting how he killed Yeardley Love, while the real Huguely wept into a tissue 30 feet in front of me. I also spent far too much time in Newcomb basement with some of the people who are my best friends. I can’t find a single theme that threads through this rollercoaster of experiences, but each was exciting in its own way and each helped to cushion the other blows of these past few years, like the morning I awoke, dazed, to find my foot broken and my friend hospitalized. I would hardly be so arrogant as to call myself an “adult,” but I am no longer a child.
My well-meaning best friend warned me not to publish this parting shot, correctly pointing out that it is little more than Google bait for future employers. I did think twice about how I’ve portrayed myself in this article, but in the end I decided to forgo the push for total professionalism and put something personal and sentimental on the record. I wanted to somehow reach out to the audience with which I’ve (hopefully) connected over these past three years, and issue a broad farewell to the University that’s given me so much. And, as for the future employers, I’m fine with them perceiving my flaws via this piece. At least they’ll know I’m happy.
Krista Pedersen was the 123rd News editor of The Cavalier Daily.