“I’m not going to stop you, but I think you’re making a big mistake, and you are going to regret it.”
These were the words from one of my best friends, Tyler, as I told him I was leaving the blog we worked at last fall. It had nothing to do with personal problems or animosity; I just was bored and felt underutilized in my position.
At the beginning of my senior year, I realized I needed a change. The summer had just ended, and I returned from a trip with a few friends to find myself wondering the next day, “What the hell am I doing?” I was an arts writer and editor at OnwardState.com, the so-called enemy of the Collegian.
I never found myself harboring any sort of anger in either direction; it’s just what some of the outspoken (and sometimes vengeful) writers at both establishments conveyed via social media.
I knew and loved people on both sides and just never really cared to take a side.
So with my boredom began a curiosity in the Collegian; I had never really considered it as an option.
I asked one of the few people I knew who had worked at the paper if she knew when tryouts were. She was already someone who had always tried to sway me to the Collegian, not to mention was probably capable of persuading me to do anything.
She eagerly gave me the information. Besides her, the only people who knew were Ty and Evan, another writer at Onward State who quickly became like a little brother — the kind that needed to be beat-up on occasion — and the second-best arts writer at Onward State.
I didn’t make a big deal out of it. They knew, but for the most part, it was something I was doing for myself, by myself. That all quickly changed after a visit to Saloon when a Collegian editor, already two Monkey Boys deep, looked at me while finishing his third and said, “Did you really tryout for the Collegian? We weren’t sure if we should take it seriously.”
After explaining my rationale to him and two Collegian alumni, I sufficiently proved that my intentions were pure. I was just thankful I could finally vent. I even told them, “It was just something I was trying to do on my own — I didn’t want to need anyone else’s help.”
The same kid who just months ago was writing blog posts about a Penn State student posing for Playboy (in my defense, it was news), was now applying to work for the Collegian, a media outlet quite opposite of my standard writing style.
After several confusing days, I sent an apology letter to Lexi Belculfine, the editor in chief, explaining that I wasn’t trying to waste anyone’s time and it wasn’t a joke. Not only did I get back one of the most cheerful emails I’ve ever received, but she informed me that in a changing of traditional Collegian guidelines (see Onward State, it can happen here sometimes), that they were allowing seniors to interview as well.
It’s mostly a blur from this point. The series of events went something like: intense interview, more waiting, email back, announcement, resigning from Onward State, Twitter drama, temporarily feeling hated by former colleagues at Onward State, feeling hated at the Collegian, working my ass off as a candidate, hanging out with Collegianers on a roof and getting to know the other late-night weirdos. And boom — I was a part of the Collegian.
It was almost my last semester and I’m no longer a candidate, but shadowing the person I found myself closest to in the Collegian, the Arts Chief. Not only did we share an affinity for the same vein of metal bands, we had an uncanny knack of hating the same people, liking the same girls and even enjoying the same tea.
As he faded out and I faded in, my eyes opened to a whole new side of the newsroom.
Lexi and her office took on a bigger role of pseudo-psychiatrist, and all of a sudden, I realized I was exactly where I wanted to be. There was constant banter, weird conversations, deadline freakouts and dedicated journalists — everything I wanted, and missed, about the newsroom experience. I had lost some of those who drew me in to the Collegian, but with every weird conversation and bit of my personality I revealed, I learned that I could be myself without any worry of getting judged.
I don’t know at what point I felt comfortable enough to dance around the office at 1 a.m. after my page was finished, but it must have been around the same time I realized I couldn’t be happier that one of my closest friends was so entirely wrong.
Marcus Correll is a senior majoring in journalism. He is the Collegian’s arts chief. Email him at email@example.com.