Massachusetts Daily Collegian

A need to write

By Leigh Greaney

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I don’t like writing about myself. It makes me admit things that I know are true, and they stare up at me – black and white – screaming. Right now, it’s screaming: hey, you’re graduating. I’ve been avoiding that caustic reality for months. Especially during the barrage of comments from friends and family begging to know what’s next.

I don’t know what’s next. I used to know. It was always California or Africa. I’ve had the privilege of getting to know a slice of Cape Town, South Africa and visited California with dreams of San Francisco, but I don’t know anymore.

I feel like the world is waiting for me. My options are oceans. It’s devastatingly scary and beautifully sublime.

I do know one thing. I want to write. I have to write. I’ve known that since I was hip-high. I have an addiction to word purging. It sounds graphic and it is. This University has taught me that this word bulimia can pay. Coming to UMass as an English and Journalism double degree major, I always got squints and eye rolls when I said I wanted to be a writer. “How are you going to pay the bills?” and “Is that a career all by itself?” were common knives thrown at me.

But, it is a career, and it does pay the bills. You just have to know what you’re doing. You have to practice. You have to meet people. You have to talk to people. Most importantly, you have to write until you have carpal tunnel. I feel like I’ve done that.

I’ve been working at the Collegian for three years, writing editorials, editing editorials, interviewing bands and writing about music. I’ve inhaled some inspiration and exhaled some journalism. It’s been more than refreshing.

It’s become more than a job or an internship or mandatory practice, though. It’s become a haven. This creaky, cluttered newsroom has been the best class I’ve taken at UMass. My credit count hasn’t been upped and my GPA hasn’t either, but I’ve easily learned more in this dusty dungeon than over in Bartlett or Herter.

I could list out all the little, quirky things I’ve learned and look back in a hue of nostalgia and bore you to death, but I hate when people are that lofty.

What you learn in college is something unique to you. Everyone has blanks to fill in their own experience. The only way to fill them is to find them first.

For anyone reading who still has a good chunk of time under their belt at UMass, I think that there are a few priorities that I wish I kept in mind at all times. What you take from them is your own, but I feel that college priorities can be somewhat universal.

The first is obvious: have the absolute time of your life. Go out and party. Meet everyone you can – even if you’re sure you’re going to hate them after four minutes of talk time. You learn about yourself through learning about others. So, get out there. Don’t let homework rule your entire life. Just get it done, and do it well. Hell, even if that means pulling a few all-nighters. You’ll live.

Second priority: fill up your resume with internships, accomplishments, awards, clubs and anything else that you like to do. This University has hundreds of organizations to join. Join a few that catch your eye. You won’t regret it.

Third priority: get good grades. This basically means going to office hours. If you haven’t figured this out yet, you’re welcome.

Stress, although part of life, doesn’t need to be all of it. You can’t make yourself better when you’re worried that you suck. Just realize: you’re here to learn.

I don’t think once I get my little diploma and handshake that my learning and my education are over. That doesn’t mean grad school is next, although I might. That doesn’t mean I’ll take a French class in some stuffy, overpriced and trendy classroom in New York City from some private organization, although I might. That doesn’t mean anything more than the fact that I’m keeping my eyes open.

UMass is something that grows inside you. It’s a mind state. It’s looking at the world and soaking it into your sponge. It’s becoming part of a collective. It doesn’t leave you once you leave it. For that, I’m comforted that on May 15, it’s not over. Cap and gown or not – I’m still a piece in this place’s over-soul, and it is part of me.

Leigh Greaney is a rapidly aging woman, who will more than likely end up selling her body for money and writing about it. But more seriously, Leigh was the Collegian’s assistant ed/op editor. She can be reached at [email protected]

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