Following life’s lede

Off the Beat

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Most folks who know me know I’m incredibly indecisive, which means I do everything I can to follow through with the decisions I do make. 

Two months into my senior year of high school, I was convinced that after graduating I’d be done with journalism, and I genuinely believed the decision was set in stone. As much as I had enjoyed being a student journalist, it prompted plenty of tears and stress. As editor in chief of a newspaper with a staff of 12, I wore way too many hats and burned myself out. I spent hours when others couldn’t or wouldn’t to finish the paper in time, putting journalism before schoolwork and college applications.

Yet it was exhilarating: Entering administrators’ offices, press pass in hand, ready to ask questions about school closures amid wildfires or responses to a (fake) shooting threat. Seeing my byline printed on pages I had designed. Being informed, knowing what events were happening and why certain decisions were made. 

But then last fall, I joined The Daily Californian as a copy editor. In the spring, I became a deputy night editor, and this past summer, I served as the night editor. I oversaw the entire paper’s copy editing, essentially dedicating my summer to the Daily Cal — the very thing I had sworn I wouldn’t do. 

While I enjoyed the thrill of reporting and writing in high school, I could never interview Chancellor Carol Christ or dissect UC Berkeley researchers’ game-changing work (though I should probably know better by now than to say “never”). Instead, I find joy in fixing spelling and grammatical errors, in adding hyphens and removing Oxford commas (and writing about them). 

When I became a copy editor, I was convinced maintaining that small role would satisfy my interest in journalism. I didn’t see myself rising through the ranks of the paper, and certainly not as soon or quickly as I did. However, there’s something addicting about the Daily Cal, about being in the office and working with other staffers who care so deeply about the publication. Knowing that you’re surrounded by people you’d otherwise never meet but who share the same passion for the paper creates an unparalleled magic in the office. Spending only two 2-hour shifts in the office each week simply was not enough.

And so, I applied to be a deputy night editor. Though I sacrificed a consistent sleeping schedule, it was the best decision I’ve made thus far in college. There’s something about it all — the looming deadlines, the pressure to edit articles thoroughly and place them on pages correctly, the chaos of yelling across cubicles, the urgency to make decisions about headlines and captions. Just as much as I was stressed, I was filled with adrenaline and a feeling of belonging. And even though I haven’t been able to enter the office since early March, Zoom calls and Slack channels have maintained and furthered the camaraderie I have with other Daily Cal staffers. 

Because I struggle to make decisions, I try to create the best of both worlds. Though I’m no Hannah Montana, the Daily Cal has given me just that. As an intended STEM major, I can supplement my technical classes with a more humanities-centric experience. My indecisiveness has actually given me more opportunities, opening doors to a greater number of paths forward.

I joined the Daily Cal because the familiarity of a student publication was comforting, but I found exceedingly more than just a way to get involved on campus. Not only have I developed my understanding of AP style and my fact-checking skills, but I’ve also gained workplace experience and a greater appreciation for everyone who contributes to a publication. 

Have I told myself I won’t ever be a news reporter again? Yes. Have I told myself (and others) that there’s absolutely no way I’m going to pursue a career in journalism? Also yes. Of course, I don’t know whether or not these answers will hold true one or 10 or 20 years from now. But I’ve come to accept that journalism will likely remain a part of my life, at least for the next three years until I graduate and can no longer work at the Daily Cal.

I’ve never viewed my indecisiveness as a positive trait, but perhaps I have it for a reason. Knowing what you want can be a great thing; however, I’ve learned to value keeping my options open. Sure, I’m an intended applied math major. But I’m also a copy editor, and perhaps I’m also a future layout designer, social media staffer or sports writer. 

Despite my indecisiveness, not knowing for certain what my future will look like frightens me. But my fear shouldn’t deter me from pursuing my passions, nor should it close any doors. 

I don’t need to make any substantial long-term decisions right now, and I definitely don’t need to — and shouldn’t — count out journalism from my future. I’m unsure where my journey will take me, but I know my indecisiveness will ensure I take the road less traveled.

“Off the Beat” columns are written by Daily Cal staff members until the fall’s semester’s regular opinion writers have been selected. Contact the opinion desk at [email protected] or follow us on Twitter @dailycalopinion.