A few opinions for the road

A fitting finalé for the Opinion Editor

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Ana Pietrewicz / Daily Collegian

By Emma Garber, Head Op/Ed Editor

“What’s the opinion here?”

It’s a question I’ve asked countless times over the past four years, first as a writer and later as an editor. My time at the Massachusetts Daily Collegian has been defined by subjectivity. I’ve been lucky to voice my own opinions and to help others make their voice heard. Now, as I prepare to depart from the University of Massachusetts, I’d like to offer up a few opinions that reflect my time here.

Opinion #1: Life has a funny way of working out.

If you know me personally or have read my work, you’d know I have danced my entire life. I entered college with aspirations of a performance career, with writing admittedly being the “backup plan” everyone told me I needed. Performing will always be my first love, and I chose UMass largely because it had the most performance opportunities of any school I looked at. Before college, I envisioned myself dancing away in the studio each night, assuming my identity here would be defined by my dancing.

Well, my freshman audition season fell flat. When the cast lists for faculty and student choreography came out, I was only cast in one piece that rehearsed one hour a week, completely upending my vision of freshman year. I sat on the sidelines as my fellow dancers marched back to Totman Gym every night for rehearsal, hating all my unexpected free time.

That’s when a group of my friends and I got an email inviting us to the Collegian All-Staff meeting. We decided to go and check it out, excitedly hurrying down to the Campus Center basement. Though I first attended an Arts meeting, I decided to stick around after for the Op/Ed meeting, sitting in the back and listening one-by-one as each columnist pitched an idea.

I was hooked.

I spent the next week obsessing over my first pitch. A few weeks later, all my friends I had joined with had dwindled off, none of them finding the time to write anymore. Each Wednesday, though, I found myself racing downstairs to the office, now grateful for all that free time.

I can’t prove this one, but I’ll say this: trust the process. One way or another, life will work itself out.

Opinion #2: Don’t be so hard on yourself.

Now, this one has been an ongoing journey for me. I think it’s a combination of being a dancer (noticing minute flaws), the youngest child (living up to the high bar my sisters set) and an extreme Type-A personality (no explanation needed), but me and imposter syndrome go way back.

The first Board of Editors meeting I attended sophomore year, I was convinced that James Mazarakis made a horrible mistake in hiring me. I looked around the room and saw some of the most intelligent, driven people I had ever met. Surely, sooner or later, someone was going to realize I had no idea what I was doing. I kept my head down the first few months of the semester, meticulously editing each article I got my hands on, terrified of missing an Oxford comma or a run-on sentence.

There may have been a few teary-eyed phone calls home in the past four years voicing my insecurities. Once, after a batch of especially critical comments, I considered taking a break from writing altogether. By the way, this leads me to Opinion #3: call home often. (“Home” can take on many different forms — find your support system and lean on it when necessary.)

When I stepped into the role of Head Editor, I was equally terrified. Each day presented a new, daunting decision I had to make. But, with each decision, I realized I hadn’t yet burned the Op/Ed section to the ground. With time, I embraced a series of cliche, yet important opinions:  No one expects you to be perfect. You’re capable of more than you think. And, perhaps most importantly, give yourself some credit occasionally.

I’m proud of the work my peers and I have done over my time here, and I’m not afraid to admit it.

Opinion #4: The Collegian is a home like no other.

There are hundreds of anecdotes I could share, countless individuals to thank and a host of memories that made this place so special. But I hate goodbyes, and if I named every person that bettered my time here, the copy editors would be cursing my name for years to come.

So, I’ll say this: wandering into that Campus Center basement freshman year was the best thing I did in college. To my home for the past four years, thank you for everything.

And finally, before I go, there’s some unfinished business to attend to. My freshman year I started a list of ideas for weeks I couldn’t think of anything. I continued to add to it, but some opinions never made it to print.

So, here they are, my final opinions: female musicians today are changing the industry for the better. The United States needs more national funding for the arts. You should support student run businesses. Stop acting like state school students settled. And, simply put, we should read more. So, click off of this, and go read something else.

Emma Garber was the Op/Ed Editor and can be reached at [email protected] and followed on Twitter @EmmaGarber1.