It’s important to clarify that all of the time I’ve spent here has been exactly that. Not “wasted.” Spent. And damn well-spent, too.
For every night I spent alone in the office, I spent more than I could count alongside the best company in the world.
Elections were made lively not by the tumult of the results as votes were counted, but by the yelling and joking and pizza that we shared together. The adrenaline of covering breaking news stories wouldn’t have felt as good if there weren't another dozen or so people working feverishly to get the story out alongside me. None of it would have felt as good.
Every day since the start of August, I’ve woken up and looked forward to going to work in that office. Every day, I’ve been lucky to count myself among an elite group of journalists, whose skill and dedication never cease to amaze me.
There are few greater feelings in this world than to see the people you love and care about grow, and, with this job, those chances don’t stop coming.
I got to see, first-hand, writers new and old come into the office and get sharper. The articles, columns and editorials they wrote got more lively, more direct, more inspired. The joy on their faces when they realize the impact their coverage is having on the community is infectious. It’s part of why I was able to stay motivated to keep doing my job in the first place.
And it’s not just our staff. Our editors have inspired me, too.
If the news cycle is one thing, it’s incessant. It will keep going and going whether you can keep up with it or not. But the team I’ve gotten a chance to be a part of this year has more than held up its end of the bargain.
We had someone at every protest, about the Dobbs decision, housekeeper pay and accessibility. They covered the midterms in November despite midterms of their own to worry about. They followed national championship hopefuls, whether they realized their dreams or not.
What I’ll remember more than anything, though, is how they were there for me.
They sang along with me on karaoke night — usually with more showtunes than they’d signed up for but they didn’t seem to mind. They laughed after I cursed every time I messed up a take for a “What Just Happened?” video. They went bowling or bar-hopping, to a movie or to a party. Sunsets on the roof. Target runs for snacks (read: ice cream).
They were always there.
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And there are way too many of them to try and thank by name. I’m still going to try anyway, mind you, but it’s too many.
One of the greatest gifts I’ve gotten in college has been the ability to work with such a kind, caring and generous group of people. Lord knows they’ve put up with plenty from me, and I’ll be eternally grateful for that.
And we’ve done so much together. More than I could have ever possibly imagined when I decided to come to UNC a day before the enrollment deadline. More than I could have imagined when I stumbled into the DTH office as a clueless first-year who “liked writing and stuff.”
The time I spent in the newsroom all these days, weeks and lives wasn’t just for the paper. It was for them. I was spending time with my friends. With my family.
I’m holding back tears as I’m writing this in the middle of the office (admittedly not doing a very good job at it) because of the strength of the friendships I’ve been so fortunate to be able to build at this big, brick behemoth of an institution. It feels like my chest is going to burst every time I think about it.
I can’t believe all I had to do to be a part of this incredible place, to be a part of these incredible peoples’ lives, was to sit here, typing away on a keyboard that’s still slightly too small for my hands. And I can’t believe that now I get to call all of these people my friends and how that’s not something that’s going away any time soon.
I can’t believe how lucky I am. I don’t think I ever will.
But I’m so grateful to everyone who believed in me, who helped me as I worked through what has been one of the most difficult but most rewarding, most tense but most ridiculous, most taxing but most enjoyable years of my life. It’s an honor I’ll hold very close to my heart until the day I die.
I was the Editor-in-Chief of The Daily Tar Heel. And I did it with the people I love.
Funny how that works, isn’t it?