I recently stumbled across an Opinion column in The Cavalier Daily's pages. It offered some fair criticism, and some not so fair, of Cavalier Daily Life columns. But rather than address the column specifically, I'd like to take the opportunity to reflect on why exactly I write this column.
The extent to which Life columns resonate with readers is evident in the words of gratitude spoken by both strangers and friends. From brief emails saying, “That’s exactly what I needed to hear,” to poignant guest columns spun from the threads of our work, it is quite clear that our words have the power to transcend the realm of self-reflection.
As an avid reader of Life columns myself, I can personally attest to how influential they are in shaping the way I perceive the world. In an age when information is hurled at us faster than we can process it, there is something comforting about taking a break to savor the few remaining outlets of powerful self-expression.
Compared to traditional pieces of journalism, Life columns solicit greater introspection. Our purpose is not to make our columns read like News articles — because, let’s face it, the events taking place in a University student’s life within a two-week period are not usually interesting enough to provoke insight on their own. Through poignant reflection, then, we are able to connect the minutia of our lives to something bigger. I like to think columnists provide themes and truths from which others can effortlessly acquire new ways to think about their own lives.
It would be easy for me to fill my columns with superficial stream-of-consciousness reasoning. I could ramble for pages on end about all the things I did during the weekend, detail every bit of conversation or describe something peculiar I saw around Grounds this morning. But none of it would matter if my words only functioned as a one-way street. Rather, I invite readers to discern meaning from my words.
The process by which my columns come to form is fulfilling, but surely it is not without concerted effort. When an idea for a column pops into my mind, I don’t just tap it out onto my keyboard and send it off — I spend days on end tossing the concept around and pulling it apart. I meticulously calculate the potential ways I can frame my argument so it isn’t just about me, but functions as a means to bridge the gap between my life and other’s.
Ultimately, every section of The Cavalier Daily serves to enrich the minds of its readers. The traditional sense of this, of course, is through an examination of current events or raising awareness about art and films. But in a broader sense, no person can be fully cultured without self-awareness to supplement factual knowledge.
Granted, it could be argued that reading books or essays adequately enlightens us on the nature of human existence. But just as we don’t read global headlines in search of local news, we can’t expect to get a feel for the University experience without first considering experiences on a micro, individualized level.
In a culture in which it’s not socially acceptable to reveal one’s vulnerabilities in everyday conversation, and at a university where everyone seems to give off the impression that they’ve got everything figured out, it’s relieving to know that we’re not alone in hosting internal battles. We are more than just Greek letters or outstanding achievements or a grade-point average. At the end of the day, we are human, and we cannot assist each other in tackling internal conflicts if we have no platform by which to publicly discuss them.
Vega’s column runs biweekly Tuesdays. She can be reached at email@example.com.