The Cavalier Daily
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PARTING SHOT: No man is an island

<p>Surround yourself with people who support you through the good, the bad and the ugly.&nbsp;</p>

Surround yourself with people who support you through the good, the bad and the ugly. 

I’m going to be honest here — I don’t know where to start. Every writing professor I’ve ever had, every editor I’ve ever worked with, has told me not to start essays this way. 

But this is my parting shot. These are my words, without the implied requirements of someone else’s style. They are the last words I’ll write for this paper. So really, it is hard to figure out where to start when it comes to distilling my four-ish years with The Cavalier Daily into 900 pithy, thoughtful words. 

I could start at the very beginning, July of 2020, when I was accepted to the News Desk before I had even moved on to Grounds. I could start with the first article I ever had published, a piece about a COVID-19 breakout in first-year dorms. I could start with the first piece I remember being really nervous to write but ultimately really proud of, a piece about a queer student leader on Grounds. I could write about my first time covering the Board of Visitors or Bert Ellis or the Honor Committee or administrative turnover on Grounds. I could start when I was elected as the Managing Editor or my first print edition as the Editor-in-Chief. 

Or I could start with today, a sunny day in my final semester of college, retired from my tenure as editor. I’m listening to the birds chirp and watching a brilliant golden retriever barrel after a tennis ball. Later I’ll meet up with some friends, most of whom I met during my time on The Cavalier Daily, for our weekly trip to Asado for wings and tacos. Maybe I’ll pick up a print copy of the paper, one with a title I didn’t pull my hair out over writing. I’ll do the crossword and catch up on all the news around Grounds. 

Retirement, as you can tell, has been treating me well. When people ask me now if I “miss it,” I laugh and tell them some things I definitely don’t miss — the constant stream of emails, Tweets and Slack messages, the hours spent in the windowless basement office of Newcomb, the late nights. 

But I don’t always get to tell them about the things I really do miss. I miss waking up every morning and being one of the first people to read articles about everything from the latest Board of Visitors meeting to a review of the “Barbie” movie, and all before most people have had their first cup of coffee. I miss Slacking the social media team and asking if they’ll move the CD logo a quarter inch to the right on an Instagram post. I miss seeing if the photo editors can show me a font that’s just a little more serif than sans-serif. I even — sometimes! — miss being surrounded by wired college students at 2 a.m. on Wednesday print nights, full of Oreos and popcorn and delirious with lack of sleep. 

I miss working with some of the most creative, driven and talented people I have ever had the privilege of being around. I miss seeing them everyday, being inspired by and learning from them. 

But even amidst all those people, the role of Editor-in-Chief itself can feel isolating. You are the person responsible for the failures and successes of the entire paper. I remember long days crammed full of classes and meetings. I would edit in the gaps between my schedule, putting out little fires instead of paying attention in class. I’d come home bone tired and still have to be a functioning human, do my homework, feed myself and remember to call my mom back. 

A lot of people rely on you to do your job well and with integrity. It’s a lot of weight for a young person, and it’s hard to understand exactly what that’s like unless you’ve done the job. There were times when I felt alone, even surrounded by friends.  

But the truth is — no man is an island. I owe so much to the Junior Board, who put up with my silly PowerPoint themes and Comic Sans emails. There are hundreds of writers, photographers and other staffers who attended hundreds of events, who poured so much of themselves into this paper. There are my wonderful friends who were patient with me when I needed “just three more minutes” to finish editing an article before we grabbed dinner. 

In the usual tradition of taking a moment to acknowledge those friends — Jenn, Khuyen, Zack and Ankit, thank you for being mentors and friends when I had no idea what I was doing and for helping me figure it out. To Eva, there is too much to possibly thank you for in this, and you know it all anyway, but thank you nonetheless. To Charlie, whose patience and breadth of knowledge astounds me, thank you for being on top of it and explaining the budget to me every month. To Ava and Lexi, you guys kept me afloat in this ocean of madness — simply thank you for everything. And to Nate, I’m so proud of you. Thank you for doing this job with such integrity and kindness. 

There are of course countless other friends, editors, writers and mentors who surrounded me with love and patience. There are so many members of this community who shared their voices and stories with us. I owe you all a huge gratitude. 

I’ve learned a lot of lessons during my four years on The Cavalier Daily. I learned how important it is to throw yourself into the things you love and give them your all. I learned that everything is better after a good night’s sleep. I learned so much about the importance of student journalism and access to free and fair information about the world. And I learned secrets about the Newcomb basement that would horrify you.

But the biggest lesson I learned during my time with The Cavalier Daily is that it is always about the people. At the end of those 18-hour days when I felt like I couldn’t do it anymore, I knew I could text Eva or Lexi or Ava to vent. I knew at least one of my roommates would be awake and watching something dumb on the TV. 

I hope that lesson resonates — surround yourself with people who support you through the good, the bad and the ugly. Accept help when it is offered and ask when you need it. And don’t be an island. Life’s better when you’re floating through the whole mess of it with people you love. 

Ava MacBlane was the Editor-in-Chief of the 134th term, the Managing Editor of the 133rd term, and the News Editor for part of the 132nd term. 


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