The beauty of feeling foreign

Not knowing what you’re doing can lead to knowing who you are

The beauty of feeling foreign

By Emilia Beuger, Assistant Op/Ed Editor

Writing my senior column has been like the first time I wrote a sports story. Writing it gave me so much anxiety because I really didn’t know what I was doing or if I was even writing it correctly. Writing this article felt foreign. Turns out, that’s not a bad thing.

When I first came to the Massachusetts Daily Collegian, I was a freshman who just wanted to write about issues that I cared about — mostly issues that were far off and unable to touch me in a real sense. But after my first piece, I realized how crucial it was for me to explore who I was through my writing. As I progressed through my time as a columnist, then into an editor, I became braver in my opinions and ideas. I expressed my vulnerabilities through my pieces; I reflected on some of the most difficult decisions that I have faced thus far. I struggled for over a year to put into words how one moment made me feel and changed my college experience. I experienced backlash over my opinions many times with some jabs stinging more than others. I wrote about heartbreak, about complacency, about mental illness and about things happening on campus that frustrated as well as motivated me. And it wasn’t easy. It was hard to find the right words. It was hard to overcome the anxiety that someone may disagree with me or tear my piece to shreds.

Last year, as I tried to make sense of my own opinions, I was given the chance to listen. My podcast, though often light-hearted, has made me feel every emotion possible. There are days where I walk away after recording feeling raw and emotional, and others where I walk away more inspired than I have ever been before. I realized how much I enjoyed listening and learning from others. I felt fulfilled every time I was able to amplify their stories and voices.

Writing has always helped me uncover my vulnerabilities, and it has allowed me to make those vulnerabilities my strengths. Working here has taught me so much about myself by giving me the chance to just write, no matter if it was about politics, sports or arts. I’ve learned how to be more honest with myself and secure in who I am, not caring how I may come across to those who read my columns and listen to my podcast.

This is not to say that my fears and my vulnerabilities have been completely overcome; of course I have regrets. I wish I had done more, written more and said more. I wish I had not let fear hold me back from expressing how I really felt. I wish I had pursued some of my interests much earlier. But at the same time, the timing of the choices I have made are all a part of my experience working at the Collegian.

I have accepted the fact that my opinions are not the most ground-breaking or controversial. I have learned that I can balance my intellect with my humor. I’m still trying to learn to stop apologizing for who I am and for my beliefs. It’s okay for things to feel foreign; that’s how you learn.

I’m very grateful for the family I have at the Collegian. They have always made me feel wanted, supported and included. Some of my best memories from my time at the University of Massachusetts happened in the Campus Center basement. I cannot thank these people enough for being my mentors, my cheerleaders and some of my best friends in the entire world.

I’m grateful for the opportunities I have had to not just publish my writing, but to grow and learn while doing it. I’ve learned that I, just like any article or story, could always be better or be improved, but what matters is that I am trying to be as genuine as possible. The story needs to reflect what happened just as I have to reflect who I am. And who I am is a much better, stronger, bolder version of the person who walked into the office freshman year. I would not be who I am today without the Collegian and the people in it and for that, I am grateful. I decided to try to do more things that felt foreign to me because that’s how I found where I fit in at the Collegian.

Emilia Beuger was an assistant Op/Ed editor and can be reached at [email protected]