As some of you may know, I am the author of the on-campus underground comedy publication, the Squirrel. Now I realize probably most of you have never heard of it and of those that have, I’m sure only a handful of you have actually read it and of that handful, only a small percent enjoy it. To those that have read and enjoyed it, thank you so much. I’m proud of the work I did (as amateurish as it was), but I also recognize that there is no way I could’ve written the Squirrel if it wasn’t for the Voice.
I was hired to be A&E Editor at the end of my sophomore year. I had no previous newspaper experience, I had never met any of the staff and I didn’t even know where the office was. But they (Dominic Piacentini and Maddi O’Neill) hired me. I’m still not quite sure why. To this day, it seems like an incredibly risky move to not only allow an inexperienced, unintelligent, uncomfortably sweaty person to write for your newspaper, let alone be in charge of an entire section, but they took a chance on me and I’ll remain grateful for that my entire life.
Because of the Voice I learned how to write better, edit more effectively and think more critically about language and how we use it. My writing became more concise, clearer and I just generally sucked less (oh, I’m still a shitty writer, but significantly less shitty than I was two years ago).
But more important than all that boring stuff is the fact that this dinky little newspaper made me a better human because no one put up with my shit. Usually in campus groups, I’m allowed to make all the dumb jokes I want and goof around and keep up the class clown persona that has haunted me since middle school. I wasn’t allowed to do that here. Oh, I’ve been able to fuck around plenty (anyone unfortunate to share the Voice office with me can tell you that), but there have been plenty of times where I’ve realized “Oh, I’m actually gonna have to stop acting like a child and be an actual, productive human being.” I know that doesn’t sound profound or meaningful in any way, but when enough honest, good, kind people grab you by the shoulders and say “Get your shit together!” it sticks with you. It gives you the desire and ability to grab yourself by the shoulders (okay, not literally because you’d look like a fucking idiot) and force yourself to finish that project, to write that essay, to pick yourself up off the bathroom floor and get back to work.
I can’t tell you how many times that has saved me. I mean, I could, but Mel and Ashanti have limited me to 500 words. Look, here’s the point, beautiful people: you are capable of more than you know. I know I sound like a Tumblr quote that someone prints out and puts at the carrel and forgets about halfway through the semester, but just trust me. Whatever you want to do, you’re the one who is most likely to make it happen. I’m not saying it WILL happen, but I’m saying that you are in control of it more than you think.
So go out there, start weird comedy publications, go to foreign movies, eat things that seem disgusting, have an hour-long conversation with a stranger, fuck somebody, call your mom or your dad or someone who means a lot to you, read a book, empty your garbage, make a Club Penguin account, make new friends, get rid of shitty ones, be courageous, be kind, be smart, be ridiculous, be happy, be sad, just don’t be ambivalent.
Micheal Hatchett, a Arts & Entertainment Editor for the Voice, can be reached for comment at MHatchett16wooster.edu.