COLUMN: Find what you love, and let it heal you
In more ways than one, I found my voice at Central Michigan Life.
As hard to believe as it might be for some of you who know me, I was much shyer when I started my education at this university in August 2014 than I am now. I hadn't just kept to myself throughout most of high school — I barely talked at all.
My senior year did a bit to help with that, as that was around the time I started pursuing my fledgling career in journalism as part of the team that put together the school's daily announcements, but the damage had already been done. When I graduated from Michigan Center High School in Summer 2014, classmates I had spent the last 12 years of my life with would come up to me to tell me they had no idea what my voice sounded like because they had almost never heard me talk.
So I came to Central Michigan University with a major deficit in both public and private speaking skills, planning to study in a field based entirely around communication. Journalists are supposed to avoid cliches when writing, but it's fair to say I "had my work cut out for me."
Unlike a lot of my colleagues in the journalism department, I didn't immediately zero in on CM Life as my outlet of choice. The publication's reputation proceeded it, and I always knew I was going to give it a shot eventually, but I came into this field of study without a clear idea of where exactly I wanted to go with it. So, I spent my first two years here writing for the arts and entertainment section of Grand Central Magazine. It was an enriching experience that gave me some great memories and made me some of my greatest friends, but after two years I hit a wall, and the only way I could see around it was to try something new.
After my sophomore year ended and I knew I was ready to take the next step in my education, I applied for a reporter position at CM Life, and I haven't looked back for a second.
My favorite thing about journalism, to paraphrase the late Ronald Marmarelli, is that journalists "know everything," or to put it another way: journalists have the skills and research-oriented mindset to learn anything they need to do their jobs better.
I didn't know how to talk, so I would learn through journalism. I had trouble speaking to people, so I used my profession to give me the practice I needed. I had a lifelong fear of being in front of a camera, but I still found myself doing things like Facebook Living from the heart of Mount Pleasant during an active manhunt, and endorsing the best spots around campus to enjoy my least favorite beverage.
It has been and will continue to be a struggle, but in the draw I feel to do good journalism, I finally found something stronger than the fear I felt in using my voice. For the first time in my life, I knew what it was like to fall in love with what I'm doing and to be surrounded by people with that same kind of passion.
If you've spent enough time on the internet and/or have enough artsy friends, you've probably come across the quote "Find what you love, and let it kill you."
The saying is usually attributed to famous poet, novelist and alcoholic Charles Bukowski, even though he never actually said it. I'll admit that it's a cute quote — it makes for a great laptop sticker for failed or soon-to-be failed artists and musicians — but there has always been something about it that didn't sit well with me.
As someone whose own self-destructive tendencies brought me about as close to death as you can get without actually dying, I can speak from experience when saying there's nothing about death worth romanticizing.
There are better things to aspire to than death, so I made up my own version: "Find what you love, and let it heal you."
Find something that challenges you in all the best ways and builds you up just as much as it breaks you down. Find something that makes you fear death only because it would make you stop doing what you love.
Find something that completes you in the way my two-and-a-half years at CM Life completed me.