Dear younger me

From left to right: back row: sports editor Chris Brown, sports editor Josh Mullenix, opinion editor Nate Lemen; front row: managing editor Meghan Stratton, digital managing editor Joshua Doering, editor-in-chief Jessica Lee. Photo by Meghan Stratton.


“Dear younger me, 

I cannot decide

Do I give some speech about how to get the most out of your life? 

Or do I go deep? And try to change

The choices that you’ll make ‘cause they’re the choices that made me

And even though I love this crazy life

Sometimes I wish it was a smoother ride”

As I started thinking about my time at the Collegian and what I wanted to say in my goodbye column, these lyrics Bart Millard penned reflecting on his own incredible life story in the song “Dear Younger Me” kept popping into my head. 

So I decided to steal his idea and write a letter to you, my freshman year self. I have an answer to the dilemma Millard poses, but we’ll get to that later. 

You’re going to show up to that first Collegian meeting thinking working for a student newspaper would look good on your resume and give you something to do outside of class. What you don’t know at the time is that the Collegian will be the single most impactful part of your college experience. 

Even when you feel overwhelmed at first, stick with it. Keep showing up to meetings and hitting deadlines. People see the work you’re putting in. 

By October of your sophomore year, you’re going to be offered the chance to become a sports editor. I know it sounds crazy. Just trust me. And say yes.

You’re not going to want to endanger your strict eight hours of sleep policy. You always told yourself you wouldn’t become one of those people with five million things going on and a wacky sleep schedule. I get it. 

However, there are a couple of things you should know. First, you can — and will — function just fine on much less than eight hours of sleep. Second, those extracurricular activities that make your life hectic are also what make your four years at Butler so amazing. 

Anyway, becoming an editor means you get to work with these people named Dana, Marisa and Zach for almost two years. Spend as much time with them as possible. Learn from them. 

Dana is one of the most gifted writers you’ll ever meet. Let her push you and challenge you. You have no idea how much she’ll teach you about writing. Oh, by the way, she works for ESPN now.

Marisa does an incredible job balancing the Collegian’s present and the future. She keeps everything running smoothly while also investing an immense amount of time and energy into the next group of editors. Make sure you repay her investment in you by doing the same as a senior. 

Zach is such a kind soul. Watch how he consistently brightens the mood of the office. It’s one of the most underappreciated skills a Collegian editor can have. Give him as many hugs as you can. He’s just trying to spread love and positivity. 

Before you know it, your junior year will be over and you’re the Collegian’s digital managing editor. Get ready to be challenged in ways you can’t even imagine. I could write a whole other letter about the lessons you will learn your senior year.

Be confident in your ability to do the job. Speak up when you have something to say, but know when to shut up too. You don’t need to provide your thoughts on everything. 

All those hours you spend with Jessica, your fearless editor-in-chief, and Meghan, your passionate managing editor, are going to pay off. It may not look any different from the outside, but you’ll be able to see the positive impact of the changes you’ve made. 

While I’m on the topic, don’t forget to show some grace to Jessica and Meghan. I know you’re going to be worried about forming a successful leadership team with two people you don’t know very well. Don’t be. Learning to work together while simultaneously becoming close friends will be one of the highlights of your senior year. Never forget how blessed you are to work with these two amazing women. 

Cherish every night you get to spend in the Collegian office because you don’t know when any sense of normalcy in the world might disappear. You won’t have stepped foot in there for nearly a month when you write this. I’m dead serious. 

It’s going to be painful not saying a proper goodbye to the wonderful people that make up the editorial staff. Let them know how much you appreciate and care about them every chance you get. Don’t assume there will be a next time. 

On a similar note, don’t lose sight of how lucky you are. By the time you graduate, you’ll have covered an NCAA Tournament game, sat in a press conference after Butler takes down the No. 1 team in the country who went on to win the national championship, chronicled a remarkable turnaround by the baseball program, tell the story of the men’s soccer team’s regular season Big East title, rushed to the office at 9 in the morning to write a breaking news story about Trip retiring and helped guide a newspaper through a global pandemic. All thanks to the Collegian. 

The Collegian is going to give you something even greater though: relationships. The people you meet won’t just be life-long friends; they’ll become your second family. 

That Josh Mullenix guy you came to your very first meeting with? He’ll be with you every step of the way. You’ll start not one but two podcasts together, just like you said you would. 

That Chris Brown fella you were so happy got brought home to the sports section after a brief stint in news? He’s your roommate and sounding board who makes you smarter every time you talk. 

They also both happen to be sensational sports editors. 

By the time your four years are up, you’ll reach the same conclusion Millard does later in the song:

“Every mountain, every valley

Through each heartache you will see

Every moment brings you closer 

To who you were meant to be”

Everything you’ll go through — the high points and the times you wonder if the sacrifices you made for the Collegian are worth it — teaches you things you can’t learn in the classroom. The things that make you a better son, a better friend, a better leader and a better person. 

So younger me, I want to leave you with this:

Embrace the process. Trust it and don’t ever lose faith in it. And get ready for one heck of a ride. 


Your older self


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