On a warm spring night in Chapel Hill, circa 2019, my friend Molly Weisner and I were taking care of our boss, then-chief copy editor Brandon Standley, who was laying on the sidewalk after a house party. “I’m thriving,” he said, over and over.
That was the night he hired me as an assistant copy editor for The Daily Tar Heel.
Now, it’s a cold fall night in Chapel Hill, and it’s my last night as chief copy editor for the DTH. I’ve learned a couple things in my time here, which I’d like to share with anyone bored enough to read this.
First, prioritize kindness.
If you’re a UNC student, you’re likely obsessing over your major, jobs, internships and the anxiety-fueling amount of work waiting for you when you wake up. But none of that matters more than the people around you.
As we trudge through this pandemic, the magical moments we all miss are moments of connection to our friends and loved ones. But you have an opportunity to keep the spark of connection going by being kind to those who still surround you — in person or virtually.
So, don’t treat your professors as distant figures of authority. Ask them how their day is going, answer their questions over Zoom, turn your camera on if you feel comfortable doing so, say “thank you” before you leave class. Show that you care about them as much as you care about the content of their class, and you’ll find mentors, wisdom and guidance from people who’ve stood in your place before.
Likewise, go out of your way for your friends — new and old. Stay up late to help them edit a paper, bring them coffee, check up on them. If you’re looking for a friend, just be honest and people will match your vulnerability — the source of true friendship. Be willing to say “I’m not OK,” open up and show interest for the morsels of truth people share with you.
Second, try your best.
Regardless of the work you’re doing, always seek an angle that you’re passionate about before tackling it. Always think about the larger picture and visualize the impact your work can have.
At the DTH, I spent most of my time copy editing — checking for minor errors and focusing on minutiae. But whenever I could put myself in the shoes of a reader who needed that information, or I came across a story that didn’t meet our standards, I knew the late nights of work in the office were worth it.
I often say I know nothing about anything. But by heeding the advice I’ve included here, you might get as lucky during your time at UNC as I did. You might just get to meet people like Anna Pogarcic, Sasha Schroeder, Hannah Lang, Brandon Standley, Molly Weisner, Claire Perry, Krista Nichols, Paige Masten, Will Melfi, Morgan Pirozzi, Maddie Ellis, Maeve Sheehey, Mary King, Erica Perel, John Ambrose and many others who brightened even my darkest days.
The truth is, we all have our fair share of dark days ahead of us. But I urge you to be kind, and you’ll find a team of people willing to reciprocate your kindness, help you find opportunities and bring you joy — just as I did.
Surely, then, you’ll thrive too.
P.S. Don’t be kind to racists, though. F--- them.
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