Massachusetts Daily Collegian

My two years of survival

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(Danny Cordova)

Another school year has come and gone. Unlike the past few years, this year happens to be my senior year and now I’m set to make that big leap to the adult world. But, for me, this semester was a tough one, not only because I decided to take 16 credits while working three jobs but also I was supposed to prepare to inherit the responsibilities of entering “the real world” after graduation.

For the past couple of weeks, I’ve gone through a “quarter-life crisis,” a phenomenon affecting people in their early 20s when they are faced with the real world and the stresses and fears that accompany them.

Being a student journalist feels like I’m constantly switching into two lives. In one, I’m trying so hard to cover news events to build up my résumé while in the other, I’m churning up assignments on nights before the deadline. I oversleep in the morning and miss classes and come up with as many excuses as I can to the people I’ve disappointed. Maintaining those two things never really worked as well as I hoped. And because of that, my grades and my physical and mental health suffered. It got so bad to the point that even I slipped up on writing due to the overwhelming shock of it all.

I’ve been burnt out, battered and beaten. I’ve also gotten old. And no, not that feeling that almost every 18-year-old goes through when they realize their favorite cartoon show originally aired in double-digit years. It’s the kind of getting old feeling that is only caused by balancing these two lives at an equal level. And sometimes, getting real world experience becomes more important to me than getting an essay in on time.

It was rough, for sure. And there were times when I just wanted to quit everything. But if there is one takeaway from my time with the Massachusetts Daily Collegian and at the University of Massachusetts, it is to learn to accept responsibility for my actions, to know that it has consequences and to ask for help when in need. These things, to me, are my main survival techniques. Sometimes it’s difficult to follow these techniques, whether it’s a matter of pride or just out of complete stupidity. I know I’m not an expert at these things and there is much more that I could learn, but I know the support I’ve received from my friends at the Collegian have been beneficial.

Whether it is the support received from past and current editors or the laughs shared in our windowless basement office, I felt a sense of belonging during my times spent as a news writer for the Collegian.

In addition, my confidence as a reporter grew and my ability to write, a skill that I struggled with during elementary and middle school, strengthened. And no matter how mind-boggling a night on desk could be (I still remember the Student Government Association election) I am reminded of seemingly endless support and good times that this work could bring to a guy.

Despite the rough and rugged journey with many unexpected turns peppered throughout, I value my brief time at UMass. I have gained something so invaluable that no scholarship or grant could match. While I know there will be more difficult moments, I gained the confidence to take on any situation head-on with a little help from my friends.

Danny Cordova was an assistant news editor and can be reached at [email protected] and followed on Twitter @DannyJCordova.

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