Well, where to begin?
My role at the Massachusetts Daily Collegian is at its end. My college career is at its end. Some of the great relationships I’ve developed at this University are sadly at their end. What have I left to show for it?
I’m still trying to put that into words.
I arrived to the University of Massachusetts when I was 17. I was always the youngest person in my grade through all levels of schooling. It may seem miniscule, but it was different being among peers who had experienced life a full year more than I had. I often felt that I was missing something, not looking at things the same way because of my age.
It didn’t help that I was constantly alone. I was alone at home, being raised by a hard-working single father because my mother died from breast cancer when I was eight years old. I didn’t have any siblings to share my experiences with. I didn’t have a pet to comfort me.
As much as my situation seemed like a disadvantage to me at the time, I look back and wonder how I would have turned out had it not been for the cards that were dealt to me. My loneliness matured me.
Being alone, however, also made me a guarded person, which was challenged immediately when I came to UMass. I had to open up to people and share myself in ways I had never done before.
The Collegian was an outlet that served that purpose. It allowed me to write, think and interact with people with similar and dissimilar interests. Yet I did those actions in the quietest manner possible. When I worked, I would put on my headphones and not say a word to anyone if I didn’t have to. I did the work I had and left.
My sophomore year, I was appointed an assistant sports editor and for the next four semesters, I’ve never worked harder in my life. I covered game after game, wrote story after story, did interview after interview and gave everything I had to the Collegian.
After becoming the sports editor, ironically, I did hardly any work. That was due in large part to three budding assistants who earned the opportunity to take over the section. Still, I was essentially a figurehead. That is hard for me to admit because I am a prideful person. But that was the reality. Of course I still managed and oversaw the section, but I took an incredible step back in actually contributing anything concrete to the paper. Yet I was compensated for my position. So was that my reward? Did I live and breathe the Collegian for three years for the chance to do nothing in the end?
No. I learned from the people around me in my senior year as much as I learned skills at the Collegian in my first three. I took the time, because I just had more of it, to get to know more about my peers at the paper, as well as my roommates and the many friends I’ve made.
I would often lie awake in bed at night wondering how I will make it in this world. I would feel scared, feeling that I wouldn’t make a living as a journalist. I didn’t know if my life would end up being the one I hoped for. If my experiences at college have done anything for me, it’s quelling those fears.
I now know that hard work can trump anything. I know how invaluable great friends are. I know that I will be just fine.
Honestly, I don’t know what purpose these senior columns serve. I’m not attempting to be funny, intelligent, insightful or nostalgic. I’m not trying to make you feel anything. I don’t know what I hope to accomplish by writing this. For that reason, I didn’t look at any past columns for an idea of what to write because there is no blueprint to this, just like there is no blueprint to life.
But I do hope after reading this that you know both more about me and less at the very same time.
As Patrick Bateman accepted, “even after admitting this, there is no catharsis … and I gain no deeper knowledge of myself. No new knowledge can be extracted from my telling. This confession has meant nothing.”
Jay Asser was an entity, something illusory at the Collegian. He can be reached at email@example.com.