There is one thing that ordinarily makes or breaks any serious relationship I form with another person: whether or not they read. More importantly, do they read the news?
That isn’t to say that I dismiss anyone without a daily paper-reading habit. I probably wouldn’t have any friends at all if that were the case. What draws me to a person is the simple fact that they know what is going on in the world and in their community, and to what degree their curiosity in cultural and political phenomena causes them to seek out answers.
In working for the Carolinian, I’ve garnered a good bit of understanding about my own work ethic, about the Greensboro community and about the overall reception of local news within the ranks of my UNCG peers.
From the fall of 2014 to the spring of 2015, I served as the paper’s Arts & Entertainment editor. For a semester before and after that time, I was a writer in this section, taking on assignments and searching for meaning in places I wouldn’t necessarily have thought to look.
Writing for a school paper is simultaneously exhausting and freeing. When I write – wearing the shoes and exploring the story of a stranger – I am reminded of the reasons behind my decision to major in media studies. There is a strong sense of justice I feel I (or any of my Carolinian counterparts for that matter) embody when we take on the responsibility of recounting the news or presenting a piece of new culture. It comes from doing things thoroughly and correctly, from being an effective, behind-the-scenes player.
I used to be a music major; in fact, for the first two years of my college experience I played classical piano to an extent so demanding that it was competitive. I planned music curricula with the intent to be an educator. I studied theory and history with rigor, and with the sense that I was always being judged.
By the time I decided to change my major, I knew I didn’t want to be on display. I didn’t want to put on a junior or senior year solo concert and be stared at while I performed.
I care very much about effective communication. At the Carolinian and at WUAG and at the handful of other media-producing machines I’ve collaborated with in recent years, I have been struck by overwhelming feelings of purpose as I use my own strengths to promote the creative capacities of others.
I didn’t always feel that way, though. Human beings are funny.
When I wrote my first few articles for the Carolinian two years ago, I waited with bated breath for the paper’s release Wednesday mornings with the sole, selfish desire to see my own work in print. Were there any mistakes? How did the layout appear? How close to page one was my article situated? I didn’t read anyone else’s work. I also worried over whether or not other students on campus were picking up papers. This last consideration was and still is important – but it isn’t really the point.
I learned to care, to observe the investment of time and heart given to the paper by other writers. Seeing that dedication, from people of all sorts of backgrounds and majors, enlightened me. These were the storytellers and news-readers with whom I’d needed to connect.
I feel it’s important to become acquainted with people who are like you, if only for the exclusive purpose of getting to know yourself better. Grasping exactly what it is that makes someone else tick – or for that matter, what makes someone else fearful, or nervous, or self-conscious, or creative – can be incredibly eye-opening, especially at a time when many people don’t even know what makes them tick because they’re too busy distracting themselves.
Moving into the future, I can only hope that what I write will be read by more people than the number of folks who likely read the Carolinian – not out of selfishness, but in the name of financial security. No matter what happens, I’ll be satisfied. There is nothing in the world quite like being thanked by the subject of your piece for taking the time to listen.
To you, Carolinian reader, I say thank you for listening to me, for bearing with my language that is at times far too flowery, for agreeing to open your mind to the creative forces at work in this blossoming city. I hope that you keep reading, and that you find it in yourself to step out of your comfort zone.
Listen to live music. Buy art. Treat yourself to dinner for one at a new restaurant downtown. Take time for self-reflection above the noise of technology and back-and-forth, social media-fueled opinions.
And above all: read.
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