When I initially sat down to write this column, I was a tad pessimistic.
I had written something along the lines of “it’s not a sprint, it’s not a marathon, it’s not the journey and it’s not the destination” to start off my column — I was making some sort of analogy about how working at The Daily Tar Heel is a race to the moon.
But I scrapped that.
Even though I still think working here has been like trying to build a rocketship from hand and trying to send it to the moon — safely — I think that my last 600 words can be a little bit better spent: by saying thank you, and by doing a smidge of reflecting.
When I came to this University four years ago for orientation, I thought I knew everything: I thought I knew who I was, I thought I was an expert at the subject of biology and heck, I even thought I had the next 10 years of my life planned out.
Boy, was I wrong.
I moseyed my way onto campus, moved into a dorm, and it took me all of 16 hours of being on campus to realize I had nothing in my life together.
I remember my first day on campus: I thought I was going to be able to get onto the RU and make my way to the Student Stores with no trouble. After getting off at the wrong stop and walking in circles around campus until I ended up at Frat Court somehow (yeah — I was not even close), I realized I was a bit more naive than I thought. I had a lot of learning to do about life, myself and how to do all the things I wanted to.
But, little did I know, I wasn’t going to learn it at UNC; I was going to learn it from the DTH, and more specifically, from the people I met here.
The DTH taught me how to be me — really, a better version of me.
I learned that from the online editor who took me under her wing freshman year, even though I was a relentless asshole to her in high school.
I also learned it from the copy editor who took a chance on me and gave me a leadership position in the middle of the second semester of sophomore year.
And, too, from the summer managing editor who taught me what it meant to be a reporter and what news value meant.
I learned it from the sports editor who showed me what it is like to pound a pack of White Claws in no time at all.
And, again from the University and city editors, who put my attitude and ego in check and taught me to be collaborators, not an instigator or a pain-in-the-ass.
I learned it from the general manager who told me that I could and should; and the director of sales and strategy who told me to calm down and focus; and from the photo editor who reassured me every step of the way.
Simply put, you could say that it was the people that taught me how to be me.
And then there are the people who taught me new skills, like my left-hand man who let me design some crazy-ass front pages, and my right-hand desk-neighbor who let me film and edit our videos even when he should’ve been doing it instead (he’s better at it, anyway).
And of course, the people who gave me leadership, and made me a better person — and trusted me every day: like the editor-in-chief who I write this column under today.
This is all to say, I’m a different person now than I was four years ago. And even though sometimes I miss old Brandon and the chaos he’d cause (yes, Paige — and literally anyone that knows me — I know I still cause chaos today, you don’t have to text me about it), I wouldn’t change the person I have turned into for anything.
And that’s all thanks to the people that bothered to put up with me.
So to Rachel, Maddy, Molly, Ryan, Maeve, Anna, Erica, Paige, Morgan, Jeffrey and Will (yes, that’s the order if you’re wondering ‘is he talking about me???’) I love you, and thank you in so many more ways than words can describe.
To all the people that I didn’t mention: Marin, Maddie, Sonia, Praveena, Krista, Sergio, Leni, Hannah, Catherine, Preston, Kayleigh, Yates, Paige, all my onlopy babies through the years, all my editors from years past and all the people I’ve had the pleasure of reading on Zoom with: thank y’all, too.
Maybe I don't have it all figured out just yet, but I know I'm better off now than I was before.
I will never forget my time at the DTH. I grew here the most, and I am so grateful for that. So, farewell, DTH. You did this for me, even despite all the hell you caused me.
Oh, you thought I wasn’t ending on a Taylor Swift quote? You’re wrong.
“Long live the walls we crashed through
All the kingdom lights shined just for me and you
I was screaming, 'long live all the magic we made'"
P.S. If you need a good cry now that my farewell is done, here’s the final playlist I’ll make for the DTH.
Brandon Standley is the editorial managing editor of The Daily Tar Heel. He is a senior at UNC-Chapel Hill studying public relations and psychology.
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