PARTING SHOT: Finding my voice

Mulvihill-Opinion Headshots-AWalsh010

Carly Mulvihill was the Senior Associate Opinion Editor for The Cavalier Daily during the 128th term

Andrew Walsh | Cavalier Daily

I joined The Cavalier Daily on a whim. My first year, several of my friends wanted to attend the paper’s open house, so I tagged along. I wasn’t particularly interested in journalism. I loved reading the newspaper but I didn’t feel the need to be the author of the stories that were printed. I mostly just joined the Copy section because I wanted an interesting activity. On that day, I never could have predicted that I would still be a faithful member of The Cavalier Daily staff after four years.

I loved the Copy section. I was happy to arrive for my shift in the office and spend several hours quietly reading the work of great writers. I marveled at the ability of the paper’s Life columnists, who constantly put their personal lives out there for the world to read. I never would have anticipated that by the end of my fourth year, I would be doing the same thing but as a member of the Opinion section. In fact, I would have been content to spend the entirety of my Cavalier Daily career as an editor.

My friend Alyssa was an Opinion columnist for the paper, though. We would frequently chat about her experiences with writing op-eds and she convinced me that I needed to apply for the Opinion section myself. I was hesitant because, as my friends know, I am one of the least publicly opinionated people out there — I still think that I am one of the least opinionated Opinion columnists that the paper has ever published. I don’t particularly like causing controversy or starting arguments with other people, two things which many opinion columnists enjoy, but I decided to give it a shot. I quickly threw together two application columns in the four hours before they were due and somehow, I was chosen to write a weekly opinion column.

I spent my first semester of writing Opinion columns in a state of permanent anxiety. I would spend hours composing what I felt were well-conceived arguments on creative topics, only to have the pieces ripped apart by my editor. I dreaded submitting each week, almost as much as I hated receiving my edits. Looking back, the process improved my writing immensely but in the moment, it was difficult to realize that I had no clue what I was doing. It took column after column for me to not only learn the style expected by the section but also gain enough confidence to assert my words in a strong way. Eventually, though, I hit my stride. As I gained more confidence in my own words, I got fewer and fewer negative comments from my editors. I was proud to have found my own voice as a columnist.

The most important thing that The Cavalier Daily taught me was to care less. When I joined the paper, I became a copy editor because I cared too much about what others would think about my writing. The most interesting thing is that as I wrote and published more and more columns, I cared less and less about what others think. I no longer fear the comment section underneath each of my articles. Instead, I am proud to be able to publish my own work and stand by my opinions. Though I never would have predicted as a first year that my college experience would be driven by the student newspaper, when I think about the friends I made, the columns I wrote and the unforgettable moments I experienced, I wouldn’t have it any other way!

Carly Mulvihill was the Senior Associate Opinion Editor for 128th term of The Cavalier Daily.

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