My butterfly list

I started writing this column at the end of my sophomore year. 

The columns written by that graduating class moved me deeply, and I wondered what in the world I would write in mine someday. I distinctly remember reading then-editor in chief Rina’s column and thinking her job sounded really hard. 

I typed some thoughts as quickly as possible in my notes app, hoping I wasn’t forgetting anything and that these sentences didn’t sound half bad or would maybe sound even better in a couple of years. I may or may not have cried, overwhelmed with the thought of what was to come and what I would one day have to leave behind.  

Perhaps I should not have tried to write this column at the end of my sophomore year. Turns out, I’m the editor in chief writing about how my job was really hard. 

So what has and hasn’t changed? I’ve still got my list of thank-you’s at the end of this, but I’m now writing with the perspective of someone who helped lead The Daily Californian for the past year. Also, the pandemic. 

No matter my involvement with this newspaper, I’ve never really considered myself a journalist. I started making vlogs the summer before college to document what everyone said would be the best years of my life. I joined the Daily Cal in spring 2018 to get more video production experience, not expecting wrangling with Premiere Pro to become one of my stronger skills or our office on Hearst Avenue to become the place where I would spend most of my time. 

The thought of being EIC truly did not cross my mind until I was more or less asked to run for election. If you think I was surprised, you should’ve heard my parents’ disbelief when I told them over dinner after returning home in March 2020. Have a little faith, yeah?

At the Daily Cal, I made some videos and I made some friends. I assumed that’s how I would continue for another year. I felt bad for the class of 2020, which didn’t have an in-person graduation, thinking we would return to campus in a matter of months. Silly me. 

I wish I could say that my senior year was the best year ever, but that would be a big fat lie. I doubted myself almost every day. I would dive into my bed between Zoom meetings and think, I simply cannot do this. Any mistakes felt entirely my fault. Why were people asking me about journalism or business? Were they even listening? 

I missed the before times so much because life had been pretty good. It had been worth remembering and memorializing. And I didn’t wake up from naps with my heart racing while frantically checking my hellish email inbox. 

I don’t think any amount of training could have truly prepared me to be EIC, but I do think being EIC has prepared me for whatever life decides to cook up next. UC Berkeley might be a world-class institution, but the Daily Cal has been my true training ground. Just because I had fun making videos doesn’t mean I wasn’t learning anything. 

Alex and Amanda, every day was indeed a day. Y’all have been my rocks this year, and I love and appreciate you beyond words. Maia, the same goes for you, and thank you for rounding out non-written-department upper management this summer. Just like editors’ notes, we made it through eventually.  

Sera, your energy is incredible. Skylar, you are one of the coolest gals around. I couldn’t have held the paper together without either of you. 

Yvonne, we really came full circle (your sticker is still on my laptop)! Thank you for making me feel like I know maybe one thing about business. 

Sydney, Courtney and Kaitlan, thank you for being my visual queens. I had no idea just how much I’d miss you three until you graduated, but I’m so glad our group chat is still alive.  

Jessica, thank you for being my first and greatest friend at the Daily Cal. Our first video was iconic and the start to a wonderful friendship and career as video producers. 

Thank you to my roommates, Berna, Nichole, Maya and Kerry, and all my friends from my freshman dorm for always laughing with me, listening to me complain and telling me, “yes, get boba today.” My vlogs — and the rest of my life — would be nothing without you! 

Mom, Dad, Brian and the rest of the Lee family: You are little Ga Heen’s reason why. I know I never say it, but I love you so much. 

My grandmother used to say butterflies flying by are loved ones coming to say hello. I didn’t find this out until after she died, and seeing a butterfly float next to me not long after hearing the story brought me great comfort. Seeing butterflies on those somewhat rare and always appreciated sunny days on campus always made me smile. 

After four years, my butterfly list has gotten long. It still includes all the people sophomore me thought it would include. Even when I’m away from home, butterflies remind me that my family is always with me. Even when I’m away from Berkeley, butterflies will remind me of the people who made college happy and golden. I’ll remember the good parts. 

Sarah Harris was the 2020-21 editor in chief and president. She joined The Daily Californian in spring 2018 as a video producer and was the assistant multimedia editor in summer 2019, the multimedia editor in fall 2019 and the Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Committee chair in spring 2020. She is graduating with a bachelor’s degree in anthropology.

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