I am tired. I have felt constantly tired since I started college two years ago. This isn’t unusual for most college students, with the toxicity of their academic requirements, constant deadlines, and overwhelming readings b. The thing is, academics isn’t the primary source of my fatigue. It’s the student organizations I’m part of.
I am a member of three student organizations within my university, and two more from outside. But the organization I value the most, the one I have given so much of myself to, was the very first I joined. It was my university’s official student publication. Even before I enrolled as a freshman, I had decided I would join because writing was something that I enjoyed. Furthermore, I wanted to serve the student body. And since I wasn’t a popular kid with the charming smile and winning personality, running for student council wasn’t a feasible option for me. (Student elections = popularity contest)
When I first contacted them, I was still hung over from high school and had foolishly assumed that the application process and membership in the publication would be a walk in the park. It was not easy. Not at all. The application process was the most challenging I have ever experienced, but looking back, it was manageable as long as you were strong-willed and determined. The membership, on the other hand, was an even greater challenge.
There are the nights I spent editing my articles, rephrasing headlines and revising paragraphs instead of reviewing for exams. There are the weekends when I would stay overnight at our office instead of the comfort of my own bed because I needed to finish an article before the deadline. Then, there are the criticisms and attacks. These aren’t the constructive criticisms that help writers, illustrators, and photojournalists improve their craft. These are statements made by political parties about the publication being irrelevant or useless, or how the staff is incompetent and lazy. They even accused us of joining the publication for the honoraria, a financial compensation given to the members of the publication on a per issue basis.
It hurts, of course. It angers me as well. But more than those, one thing that hurts even more is the fact that not every student reads the issues we work so hard for. Some of them that do read only go to the “fun” parts like the blind items, photo essays, comics, or the opinion article about love and sex. And there’s nothing we can do about it. As a student publication, the students provide our funds. They are our stakeholders, so there is no way we can force them to read our issues.
In my opinion, that may be the hardest part of working for this student publication. And in the times I realized how tired I am and how hard it really is, I admit that I consider quitting. My life would be so much easier if I quit. I would have less deadlines, less responsibilities, less stress, and less frustration. But I choose not to. I keep on going. Aside from the mantra I live by, one of the reasons that make me stay is the people. There are two of them. First are the students, as few as they may be, who take the time to read every article and admire every illustration or photograph. The students who appreciate the value of the campus press in representing their needs, upholding their rights, and informing them of socially relevant issues. Second, and most importantly, are the people I work with. My fellow staff who sacrifice so much in exchange for so little. There are also our editors, who have shown me how this publication became such a big part of their college life.
A lot of organizations, especially fraternities and sororities, will say that they are a family. And maybe that’s true in some ways. But for me, a family is formed when you go through hell together but still find a reason to smile. It’s formed when you can be dead tired and mentally drained at 2 AM while finishing your work, and you can still smile or laugh at each other for no reason. It’s when you learn to appreciate every little thing your colleagues bring to the table, be it their creativity or noise or hyper-ness. That’s what I found in this publication.
A few months back, I was selected to become one of the editors of this publication for next academic year. I know how hard being a writer is, but I can only imagine how much more stressful and draining life would be as an editor. But I won’t quit. I won’t leave. I’ll serve in this publication to the best of my abilities for as long as I need to.
To fellow student journalists who dedicate themselves to their publications, kudos to you. Kudos to all of us.