Finding friends in the margins

Ryan Poon / The Highlander

I’ve always enjoyed writing. I find it easier to put my thoughts onto a page rather than speaking them aloud. But writing can be an independent hobby and, outside of the few friends I made in my creative writing classes, it was difficult for me to meet new people. This is why, during my second year at UCR, I decided to step out of my comfort zone and write for The Highlander newspaper.

The first thing I noticed when stepping into the office was that the small room was filled with people engaged in conversation. It seemed like they were all good friends with each other. I listened to them discuss topics ranging from Disney’s monopoly on the entertainment world to the significance of a tree being torn down on campus. Everyone around me was opinionated and trusted each other to the point that they were unafraid to vocalize their opinions to the entire room. Strangely enough, I didn’t feel like an outsider. They allowed me to slip into their conversations without judgment. 

After writing a few articles, I decided to apply for a senior staff position. I had never applied for a leadership position in anything before. The thought of being in charge of something was terrifying. I wasn’t even sure I was qualified for a big job, so I sent in an application to be an assistant editor. To my surprise, I was hired for the Features section.

Journalism is different from the fictional pieces I was used to writing. I had to pay careful attention to potential quotes during special events. I had to make sure that I had my facts straight. Then, there were the deadlines that I had to meet every single week. I couldn’t write at my own pace, especially when, more often than not, the events I attended were on a Thursday night. I had to stay up in order to type out an article that was due the next day. There were times I worried I would miss my deadline, but I always managed.

In time, writing was no longer an independent hobby working at The Highlander, and I am thankful for that. I had tons of support from the rest of The Highlander team. Everyone was always ready to help write for different sections or suggest an idea that no one has written about yet. Additionally, the other editors helped me develop my writing by offering suggestions on the articles I wrote. I was worried that journalism would be boring and that I would lose my creative touch to follow a steady structure. However, I was proven wrong. Writing for The Highlander gave me a platform to develop my style of writing and to implement my creativity in a different form.

Working entirely online was not ideal, but it didn’t take away from the experience I was hoping to get when I joined. I still made friends and participated in interesting conversations. Plus, working at The Highlander has kept me informed during one of the most eventful years we have seen. I’m not sure if I will be doing more journalism in the future, but I have a stronger appreciation for it. I hope that any future job offers the same level of belonging that I felt in my time working here.

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