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A reflection on confidence

As I finish up the last few weeks of my senior year at Carleton, I have been wondering what my incoming first-year self would think of where I am now. What feelings would have run through my 19-year-old head if I had known where I’d end up academically, personally, creatively, emotionally? I don’t know how 19-year-old me would feel about the path 22-yearold me has started down, but that’s okay, because 22-yearold me knows that I have made choices that are right for me.

However, the choice I know would have surprised my freshman self the most is the Carletonian. Coming into Carleton, I had never written for a school newspaper of any kind. Then, somehow, I wrote my first article as a contributing writer. Then I ended up becoming a copy editor and a staff writer. Then a viewpoint editor. And then an editor-in-chief. Every time my role shifted, I thought to myself: this is just luck. I’m not that qualified, but I’ll do it. I’ll try something new. Why not?

The “Why not?” feeling carried me through, and I am so grateful that it did, because four years at the Carletonian have taught me that I am, in fact, qualified, and that I always was, despite the moments when I doubted it. Writing and editing for the Carletonian taught me a lot. It taught me about AP style. It taught me about Adobe InDesign. It taught me about interviewing people, about terms like “on the record” and “pitch” and “angle,” about leading meetings. It taught me about getting all sides of a story and about being a good editor. It also taught me a bunch of other stuff, like transcribing audio and updating computer software and comma splices and italics and so much more. Memorably, it taught me what to do when a burst pipe floods your student newspaper’s office at the very beginning of the term.

Most of all, my time at the Carletonian has taught me the value of confidence. It’s pretty cheesy, but it’s true. 19-year-old me would have been absolutely shocked to learn that in two short years, she’d be co-leading pitch meetings—not just shocked to be on the student newspaper, but shocked to be leading, period. 22-year-old me, on the other hand, knows that confidence is a process, not an inherent state or quality, and that it takes many forms. This is not to say that becoming confident in my role was easy, because it definitely wasn’t. But it showed me new sides of myself, sides that I hadn’t known I possessed.

As we approach, I find myself extremely grateful for all of the time I spent in the Carletonian office, and I find myself grateful for everyone I worked with there. Most of all, both at the Carletonian and outside of it, I am grateful for the person that I have become since arriving on campus on that day four years ago.

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