Living fast, growing faster

Content warning: depression, anxiety 

“We’ve gotta’ fast, we were born out of time/ Born out of time and alone.”

When I entered college, I made a promise to myself: I’d had enough of spending all my time on academics and resume building. For the next four years, I was going to live. I was moving 2,000 miles away from home — leaving behind my friends and family — and was going to take life by the reins and get all I could out of my Berkeley experience.

This involved stepping out of my comfort zone. I’m more of a “stay in my room holed up reading in bed” person than a “go out to a party and meet new people” one. I quickly grew quite comfortable taking the BART home from a concert in San Francisco after midnight alone, but even now I feel awkward and out of place at social events.

During my sophomore year and after a slight breakdown, I was diagnosed with depression and anxiety. While my diagnoses explained a lot, it didn’t make it any easier to get through the day until I could work out a treatment plan — which took me until the summer before my junior year.

What did help me get through the day was working at The Daily Californian.

I told myself I wasn’t going to make my grad column about the Daily Cal because I didn’t want to be another cliche (sorry to everyone else who is also writing about the Daily Cal). But the truth is, it’s impossible for me not to make this about the Daily Cal because it has been such a huge part of my life for the last four years.

I wouldn’t be who I am today without my experiences at this newspaper. UC Berkeley may be what brought me here, but the Daily Cal is where I grew into adulthood.

Working for the Daily Cal taught me I can make a difference. 

Although I have a degree and plan to obtain another, I don’t need one to validate me. Instead, with each investigative article I wrote for the paper, I learned to trust in my own abilities and sense of purpose. Running our Save the Daily Cal Initiative campaign this semester, I stepped into my role with confidence I wouldn’t have had — or felt I deserved — three years prior.

I’ve made plenty of mistakes at the Daily Cal too, but what I took away from those was that people have my back. I’ll be forever appreciative of Sakura Cannestra and Josh Yuen for guiding me during my disastrously underqualified stint as staff representative my sophomore year. I was so over my head at times that I felt like I was drowning, a feeling which was not at all helped by my entirely out-of-control depression. Despite being extremely overworked, Sakura was always there to serve as a mentor or offer a helping hand, and Josh was a never-ending fount of positivity and encouragement.

This theme of incredible support has continued throughout the rest of my career at the Daily Cal. My editors at The Weekender have been wonderful, and I can always count on them to forgive me when my pieces are late and whip my messy thoughts into shape. Upper management at the paper has also been wonderful — like Amanda Bradford who spent a truly unreasonable amount of time doing careful edits on my exposé on California Medical Facility, validating my work as something she believed in.

This semester, I’ve been fortunate enough to call our recently departed editor in chief, Jasper Kenzo Sundeen, one of my friends. Despite my title of campaign manager, nobody put in more work to save our beloved paper than Jasper, and somehow through it all he maintained a strong resemblance to a ball of sunshine. I also got to work more closely with Connor Lin, a design genius, who put in who-knows-how-many hours designing our campaign materials out of the goodness of his heart (read it and weep, Connor — take the public compliments).

Looking back on the last four years, I think I fulfilled my promise to myself. I saw all my favorite artists in concert, I went to see plays and visit festivals, I joined the Daily Cal and went on to work in two different departments and three separate leadership positions. I visited Sacramento and San Jose, and I plundered the depths of Main Stacks for the rarest books by my favorite authors.

More than anything, I’ve been lucky enough to learn how to live — and that I don’t have to do it alone.

These past four years, I’ve lived fast to make up for all the life I felt I’ve missed. Maybe it’s as Meat Loaf said, maybe we are “born out of time and alone.” 

But we certainly don’t have to stay that way.

Saya Abney was the Save the Daily Californian Initiative campaign manager in 2022. She joined the Daily Cal in fall 2018 and was a deputy social media editor in spring 2019 and fall 2020, staff representative in 2019-2020 and a senior staff writer for the weekender from fall 2019 to spring 2022. She also served on the editorial board in spring 2022. She is graduating with a bachelor’s degree in ethnic studies and data science.