I spent most of my time as the Arts and Culture editor believing that I was a terrible editor.
I never felt like I was doing enough, was providing enough. I only had criticism for myself. I felt as though I was failing the section, diminishing its strength and degrading something I will always have such great love for — Art. To this day, I hesitate thinking about things I did not accomplish for A&C. I wrongly forget the immeasurable strengths that were developed, the strengths that will serve as a remarkable foundation for the greatness this section will see.
When I earned my position as the editor of Arts and Culture in my sophomore year, I had been assistant editor less than a month. I remember it was a print week, and we didn’t have enough articles for publication. The editor was unexpectedly absent, and I felt the pressing responsibility of the section’s layout. I barely knew how to use InDesign or even follow the day’s routine, and I was far too afraid to ask for any help.
We needed an article, so I wrote one. I watched an entire movie and wrote a review in the few hours I had before class. Later that day, I was told I would be the editor of A&C. I didn’t know if I was prepared or if I was even right for the role. Even after seeing how willing I was to take initiative and leadership on behalf of the section that day on such short notice, I doubted my own capability. Today, I acknowledge I naturally filled the role without hesitation. No matter if I was prepared or well-versed in the etiquette of the Retriever office, that day, I acted as an editor before being promoted to one.
In my four years with The Retriever, I saw this section blossom beyond all anticipation. No matter what my unwarranted lack of confidence may convince me of, this section has grown further and stronger than I had ever expected. The section published fantastic articles with a vast array of inspirations. As an editor, I often emphasized giving smaller artists the platform they deserve. Therefore A&C’s assistant editor, Angelica Mansfield, and I, with the help of very skilled writers, created Paws for Art, a beat exclusive to sharing the University of Maryland, Baltimore County’s artists’ creations. Paws for Art is a particularly important element of the section for me, for it was the first major change and addition to the section under my editorship. It is an accomplishment of which I am very proud to be a co-founder.
In my position, I had the opportunity to watch individuals grow over these last three years — not just as writers, but also as people growing into their strengths, their admirations, their distastes, their understanding of themselves and who they want to become. I watched writers succeed through their college experiences, making decisions they did not yet know would define a change in their life’s path. I am grateful to have seen these individuals grow, to have had the privilege of seeing even the slightest glimpse of who they will be. I have such great care for each of them, and I will always be thankful for them, not only for their dedication, effort, and outstanding publications but also for giving me their trust. To my writers who are reading this, thank you for devoting your time to this section and for allowing me insight into your individual writing styles and techniques. You have all shown undeniable dedication, great motivation, and admirable creativity. I am overwhelmingly grateful to have been able to lead such a great team of writers.
I spent most of my time as the Arts and Culture editor believing I was a terrible editor, but my writers, their exceptional work and immense support made me feel like I was doing something right. Leaving my position, I have great sorrow but even more excitement to see how A&C will continue to grow, the topics it will venture to cover and the advancements it will make.
When I began this job, I couldn’t even get papers from the printer, because I was too afraid to go into the newsroom where everyone would converse. I would rehearse emails I planned to send to contacts for hours. I would repeat and practice my own name in my head before officer introductions at our weekly writers’ meetings.
I still have those thoughts.
But whatever it is, whatever I am overthinking and building anxiousness for, I do it. And I have always done it. I do what I know is right for me to do. I do what I know will help my writers. I do what I know is needed from me. This job taught me how to defy my own expectations of myself. It gave me opportunities I was far too afraid to seek earlier in life. It connected me to individuals who will impact my life forever for the better. My position as an editor has been the source of many admirable experiences that I will continue to reflect on in the future.
For the editors and writers to come, treat Arts and Culture with kindness. Remember its worth. Remind others of its worth. Art has immeasurable strength; it draws history and paints the future. Art imagines worlds beyond our own. Be imaginative. Be creative. Make Art out of your articles. Think past what is presented to you, what you are taught to accept. Give individuals, visionaries, who already do so a platform. Learn. Always learn. Grow perspective. See what is not there, what is written in stories untold. Then tell those stories.