Letter from the Editor: Don’t be afraid to try something new

Cecilia Engbert
Assistant Editor

There’s a last time for everything, and the time has come for my last editorial in the Troubadour. I shouldn’t be sad. Consistently, I get to my deadline with a blank page and no inspiration, banging my head into the table and wishing it wasn’t my job to write something for other people to read.

But I am sad. And I’m about to tell you why. This time, I know just what I’m going to write about: my first impressions of the Troubadour and how a nightmare has become one of the hardest things I’ll have to say goodbye to when I graduate in two weeks.

For three years, I have worked for this newspaper, starting out as a staff writer, moving on to copy editor and finally finishing up as assistant editor. I’ve enjoyed it all, for the most part. But being assistant editor has been the most fun year of the three.

But I want you to know there was a time when I thought my job as assistant editor was going to be my undoing.

At the end of the last academic year, I showed up for training in a tiny, little office in the J.C. Williams Center. I retract that statement; it is not an office, it is more like a large, windowless closet.

The four people in that office, being the layout crew of the Troubadour, had a tight bond of familiarity with one another that immediately intimidated me. How on earth was I supposed to insert myself into that dynamic and become part of that team?

One of the editors just couldn’t get my name right. He kept calling me Theresa for some reason. That’s not even my middle name. When people don’t get my name right, I typically flee.

The editors all kept saying things that they thought were incredibly hilarious. Every time that happened, they would scribble it out post-haste on a sticky note and slap it on their quote wall.

To make matters worse, they showed me the strangest YouTube video I have ever seen of a dork singing with an accent about compliments. It was some form of initiation, they said, that thoroughly startled me and made me want to leave even more.

There I sat for about 12 hours on a Sunday and Monday during the last few days of my junior year, desperately wanting to quit before I’d even begun. Three of those four people were staying on the next year, and I was going to have to work with them. I hated myself for getting into this chaotic mess called “layout.”

Fast forward, and it has now been a year since I underwent what was probably the most uncomfortable training of my life, and I look back with absolutely no regrets.

I have spent hours of agony in that tiny closet-office, hunched in a swivel chair with no desk, surrounded by stacks of newspapers, a chatterbox named Ben Miller, layout editor No.1 Maddie Van Haute and our glorious editor-in-chief Veronica Novotny.

Somehow, I integrated myself into the Troubadour layout group, and I have no idea how. All I know is, when my (real) name first appeared on the quote wall, I knew things were going to be OK.

If I hadn’t been brave enough to try something new, if I hadn’t given these people a chance, I would have missed out on some of the best times in my college life.

There were certainly parts of the job that I will not miss, such as staying in the office until midnight, working frantically to meet deadlines while studying for midterms and missing beautiful Sunday afternoons because I was cooped in a drafty closet.

But it hasn’t all been bad. Actually, most of it has been incredibly fun and rewarding.

I’m not sure I’ve laughed harder than I have in that office, and I don’t think I’ve heard funnier jokes than the ones that have made it onto our quote wall. Maybe my coworkers won’t agree, but I think I have made some amazing friends in the process. Yes, even Ben is my friend now.

All this goes to show, you really can’t judge a book by its cover. There wasn’t a single person on layout team that I thought I could get along with, let alone work effectively with. And yet here we are, some of the best of friends. We even went to the police station together one time (best field trip ever — yes, it was a field trip).

All I’m saying is, what looked like a really sketchy situation turned out to be one of the best jobs I’ve ever had.

Now, I should have the confidence to face any situation that life after graduation dares to throw at me. Because if I survived 12 weekends in a tiny office with those people, under those conditions, I can survive just about anything the work force throws at me.

My parting words to you: don’t be afraid to stink at something new. It might turn out to be the most edifying experience of your life.