Don’t give up on yourself

Saying goodbye should be easy. It’s just a simple thing. “Bye, it was a great ride.” The great part is what makes it difficult. So, for once, I’m going to write for myself and nobody else. I’m going to say what I want to say, and not care if you quit reading or not.

And teachers reading this … I’m writing it in my style. If I can’t think of a good action verb, then let it go. And if there’s a typo, I don’t want to hear about it. If I spell carousel “carousal,” let it be, Madeline. Yeah, I’m calling you out, McCullough.

First off, this sucks, because I’m not saying goodbye to friends. I’ve done that before. Secondly, this sucks because I’m not saying goodbye to teachers. I’ve done that before, too. This sucks because I’m saying goodbye to my family, but not my traditional family.

I’ve been doing this college thing for way too long, but I didn’t do much until the past couple of years. I’ve done more in the past two years than I have in the previous six. Yeah, add ‘em up. That’s eight years strong, and I’m not a doctor or a lawyer. However, in eight years of college, I’ve learned some things, so listen up.

Never give up on yourself and go after your dreams, damn it.

I did a solid first four years of college, but after the third year, I found out my GPA wasn’t high enough to stay in journalism school at the University of Kansas. I switched to English just to get a degree. After that fourth year, I hated my life. English was not a passion. Journalism was. I was depressed, drinking and gave up on myself.

After sucking up my pride, I moved back to Wichita and chased journalism again. The first year back was awful, to say the least. I can’t tell you how many times I took the same intro to video production class from Kevin Hager and either failed or dropped.

Then I took Amy DeVault’s class, the Flint Hills Media Project. I was just excited to take a class from a teacher who had no idea who I was. Then, I saw Hager, sitting there, looking at me while I introduced myself to the class, and all I could think was, “Crap. Might as well mark up another ‘W’ on the old transcript.”

But, after just one week, Hager came around. Rather, I thought he came around. He never had to because he never gave up on me in the first place.

FHMP helped me grow not just as a journalist, but as a person. While I learned how to become better at editing video, I also learned how to tell a story about people. Deep down, people care about people.

Walking up to strangers and asking them questions made me care about people even more. We’re all the same and all pursuing our own interests and dreams. But, while I’m pursuing my dreams, I’m hoping I’m pushing people to pursue theirs. Because, that’s what Hager did for me.

It’s not just Hager, though. It’s DeVault, McCullough, Bertapelle, Close, Wilson, Jarman, Sipes, Keplar, Robbie Norton and whoever else I’m missing. You are just some of the people who made me believe in myself, and in a strange way, made me who I used to be, but better.

My family at The Sunflower that I met and worked with this year, I’ll cherish our memories forever. I’ll miss staying late in the newsroom and cracking jokes. I’ll also miss complaining about people not getting their stories in on time. I’ll miss the grind of producing a quality paper each and every night, the best college newspaper in the state of Kansas, if I might add.

To any random person still reading: that’s not just me who said it was the best, Kansas Collegiate Media said it was the best, so quit laughing.

Covering the men’s basketball team this season was easily a dream come true. I was there when the Shockers took down the Jayhawks. I was there when the Shockers won the MVC championship. I was behind-the-scenes of a top-10 team in the country to not just further my career dreams, but watch the players grow as people and watch them help kids grow as people. I wish I had more time here, which is weird considering I’ve been here so long.

It still astonishes me that I applied for a job at The Sunflower three times. I’m not sure what those idiots the past couple years were thinking. I’m more astonished at what the idiots this past year were thinking hiring me.

I love you all. I’ll never forget these relationships, friendships and new family members I’ve made. So, I’ll end this bad boy with one of the things that began to bring me back to being happy again.

You want it. You need it. You love it. You gotta have it.

Listen to us. Talk angry.