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This is a bit awkward. I didn’t plan on writing a hack. Eventually spurred by a text from Roshan, I changed my mind at 11:18 p.m., the night before it was due, and began jotting down some thoughts of this four-year chapter. Clearly, I was always an editor’s dream reporter.
My time at Syracuse was lonely and isolating. For over two years, I struggled to fit in. Coming from North Carolina, I struggled adjusting to the abrasive Northeast attitude. Everyone I met as a freshman seemed so confident, so sure of themselves. It took me years to realize that most of those kids’ convictions were a bluff, hyping themselves up when no one else would.
Meanwhile I stayed quiet, choosing to sit and observe, rather than jump into discussions. I joined WAER, Z89 and CitrusTV. But I was just there. I didn’t feel like a part of a collective. The person I became in my first two years at Syracuse was not who I had ever been.
Back home, I was so lively and joyful. In college, I’d become serious, reserved. I hesitated to begin conversations, worrying I’d say something that cast me as different.
Instead of laughing with friends I had made, I’d be by myself on the fourth floor of Bird Library, tucked away in a corner. Eventually, I’d pack up my belongings, walk slowly down four flights of stairs and brace myself for the chilling wind that greeted me. I’d trudge back to my dorm wondering where I’d gone wrong.
Being alone wasn’t ever what I wanted. But it wasn’t foreign. I grew up an only child, with no cousins within 10 hours. My friends thought it was strange that I ate at restaurants alone. To me, it was routine.
I struggle to strike up conversations. I don’t always know what to say to people. In my last conversation with my grandmother, my mom put the phone to my grandmother’s ear as she gasped for her final breaths. I didn’t say “I love you” or tell her how much she meant to me. In the final chance I ever had to speak to her, I said “Hi, Grandma.” Over and over. As soon as my mom hung up to call her sisters, I bawled, realizing I had blown my last chance to tell my final living grandparent how much I loved her.
The next day, I went to CitrusTV to edit video.
I told myself that I needed to maximize my potential at SU, and the best way to do that was to work. I ended up whiffing on my fair share of quintessential college experiences, but I’ll never regret choosing Syracuse. And I’ll always cherish my short time at The Daily Orange.
I didn’t join The D.O. until the second semester of junior year. I can only imagine the thoughts racing through Danny’s head as sports editor upon meeting me. He was leading a section. I was looking for an opportunity to improve my writing. We were so different in rank, but at the same point of college.
I joined The D.O. to learn the structure of an article and grow as a reporter. I ended up finding a place where I finally felt comfortable being me.
I stopped caring about people’s opinions of me. Those anxieties clearly hadn’t done me any favors. My college experience wasn’t everything I imagined. I didn’t become a star broadcaster. After a lifetime of wanting to work in sports talk radio, I ultimately decided to pursue a different career path. But my time at SU was unique. It was mine.
Once I stopped analyzing every conversation, every moment throughout the day, I finally found what I was looking for. When I stopped trying to fit in, I began to. Maybe a fresh start at a new place was exactly what I needed. Maybe the culture of The D.O. was vastly different. I’m not sure.
I never did get many of those road trips I’ve heard so much about. In my first couple of years, I thought I’d travel for a different outlet. It didn’t really pan out that way.
My one trip was memorable though. Roshan, I had an absolute blast on our Atlantic Coast Conference Tournament road trip. I just hope you learn the biggest lesson I have at SU. Stop doubting yourself, you are a relentless grinder. And at the end of the day, f*ck what other people say. Some of those kids I met freshman year were arrogant, but they taught me to stick my chest out, hold my head high and believe in myself.
It wasn’t what I envisioned, but I wouldn’t trade the lessons I’ve learned at Syracuse. Nothing comes easy. And when you work hard, your dreams don’t always pan out. But I’m satisfied with my time here. It took me years to regain that sense of self that I worried I lost. But I grew, learned and began trusting myself. Now, I can’t wait to jump into the next chapter of life.
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Thomas Shults was a staff writer for The Daily Orange, where his column will no longer appear. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and on Twitter @ThomasShults_.
The post Shults: Hack reflects on self-doubt, growth over 4 years appeared first on The Daily Orange.