Massachusetts Daily Collegian

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

Massachusetts Daily Collegian

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

Massachusetts Daily Collegian

Finding time to write was not a sacrifice, but a necessity

Leave time to do things simply because you enjoy them
Photo courtesy of Alanna Joachim

Under the harshly fluorescent lights of an aisle in Walmart, I take position amidst the rows of plastic silverware, paper towels and household goods, while my mom searches for supplies she needs for a Fourth of July party. I find an empty row of out-of-stock paper goods and take a seat on the shelf. Neither the faint swells of an outdated and overplayed pop song nor the hustle and bustle of a retail store on a holiday weekend reach my ears because as usual, my nose is buried in a book.

This memory is not an uncommon one for me. As a child, I could always be found in stores or restaurants with my latest literary pick in hand. I constantly nagged my parents to bring me to the library or bookstore; this was a constant even as I went through “phases” as I grew up, dabbling in music, theater and various sports with temporary or half-hearted enthusiasm.

In high school, I greatly enjoyed my English classes, but I found as time went on it became much more difficult for me to devote time to reading and writing for pleasure like I did as a kid. I found my love for reading wavering as I was faced with a busier and busier school schedule, balancing working, sports and clubs. I only had time to complete my assigned readings, and I even ended up skimming through literary classics like Macbeth because I was so caught up in the blur of my senior year. I just know my younger self would have been disappointed.

When I came to college, I, like every typical freshman, flocked to the Activities Expo during the first week of school and added my name to approximately 20 different email lists. I remember being overwhelmed by all the shouting and activity towards the center of the expo and found myself naturally migrating toward the sides of the event, where I saw a rather less-crowded-looking tent labeled “The Daily Collegian.” I was deeply intrigued by the idea of seeing my words in print, and I also enjoyed the idea of grounding myself in writing. Dedicating even a small portion of my time every other week to reading, writing and editing my column felt right to me and was a welcome break from my engineering class schedule.

A couple weeks in, I had joined the Op/Ed section, and found myself on Wednesdays timidly pitching ideas that ranged from the importance of common rooms (my first article) to diversity on campus. I saved every article that was printed, and I could feel my love for reading and writing coming back to me with each opinion I shared. I will admit, there were times over the years that writing and being a columnist was challenging to balance with my course load. I had many people question my decision to keep writing, asking me why I would “waste my time” doing something that did not benefit my engineering career and took away time from my studies or personal life.

But writing, to me, did not feel as much of a sacrifice as it was a necessity for my wellbeing.

Having been accustomed to reading and writing for so much of my young life, always scribbling down long elaborate stories or consuming two-to-five books a week, it only felt right that I always held ties to the written word, especially when my studies focused so heavily on calculations and math.

I am so grateful to have been a part of The Massachusetts Daily Collegian for the past four years. I was unable to contribute during most of my junior year, but I am very glad to have made my way back in my senior year. It is a pleasure to see not only new faces as the years go by, but to see the evolution of the Collegian itself. To me, I will always think of the Collegian the way it was at my first meeting, where I nervously perched on a rather worn couch in the basement of the Campus Center. But even now, in the admittedly glossier new office, I appreciate the Collegian for what it was, and what it always will be, to me: a place where I learned to love to read and write again and where I could always stay true to myself.

Alanna Joachim was a Collegian Columnist, and can be reached at [email protected].

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