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The Daily Tar Heel

Farewell Column: Muses from a girl who is still growing up

Layla Peykamian was the Assistant Opinion Editor for 2022-2023 and will graduate in May 2023.

A message about my class being canceled, some junk mail and an email from a Daily Tar Heel reader entitled “You’re not ready for the grown-up world.” That’s what my inbox looked like one day after publishing a column titled, "Sexual harassment on Franklin Street is a problem."

That last email contained some choice words discouraging me from advocating against sexual harassment. It was a collection of angry complaints that wasn’t meant to inspire a profound reaction.

So, naturally, here’s the profound reaction I had: if there’s anything I’ve learned since my time here at the DTH, it’s that I am, in fact, not ready for the “grown-up world.” And I think that’s okay.

When I joined the DTH, my mother was ecstatic. A renowned college newspaper. A tenet of her own time at UNC. She said she held The Daily Tar Heel to the same standard as The New York Times or The Washington Post.

After I joined the paper, my mom’s perspective had no choice but to change. Listening to me lament about sleepless nights, agonizing over word counts and difficult-to-pin-down sources, and yes, “hate mail” in my inbox, made her realize that the DTH is a little different than a professional newspaper.

The DTH is composed of 200-something, 17- to 22-year-old college students. Two hundred students living out of dorm rooms with a meal plan, assignments they’re behind on and, odds are, a hangover. Two hundred grown-up children.

But aren’t we all just grown-up children?

I was completely unprepared for college. Now, at the end of my collegiate career, I feel like I finally have all the skills I needed to do college “right.” I know how to plan my schedule, what to ask for at The Meantime Coffee Co., what settings on dorm washing machines to use, what shoes NOT to wear to important events, what questions to ask professors, how many alarms it actually takes me to make it to an 8 a.m. class and much, much more.

And now that I finally have these skills, I’m leaving college. I’m entering new territory where, I suspect, I am once again woefully unprepared. I don’t think I ever could be completely ready — and maybe I’m not supposed to be.

But the DTH has constantly served as a place where it’s okay that I’m still learning. We all are. It’s okay to be a little stressed, a little messy and a little bit closer to being a grown-up child than an adult.

So, to the DTH for teaching me that it’s okay to not have it all figured out, thank you.

To everybody in the newsroom for helping me with AP style every 15 seconds because I have never, in fact, taken a journalism class — as my Slackbot quote “I never wanted to be a journalist, how did I end up here?” will remind you. To late nights, too much coffee from Epilogue and endless inside jokes. To my writers for working so hard and watching me struggle to come up with a “question of the day” every single meeting.

To everyone in the “hot brunettes” group chat for validating my anxieties over Que Chula tacos and margaritas. To my amazing editors Paige Masten and Rajee Ganesan, who saw something worth publishing in my work. And to Caitlyn Yaede, for giving me this job, being my number one supporter and being one of my best friends.

Thank you, all, for letting me grow up in front of you and for helping me embrace how awkward, difficult and enriching it can be.

People say your time in college is the best years of your life, but I have to disagree. No matter how great these past years have been, I want every year to get better. I plan to be living it up in my 40s and having an amazing time in my 60s.

So, no, I’m not ready for the grown-up world. But I am excited. And I’ll see you there.


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