Letting go of the thread

Photo courtesy of Nate Lemen.

NATE LEMEN | OPINION EDITOR | nlemen@butler.edu 

Wrapped around my wrist is a thin piece of white string. It’s mostly nondescript, except that it’s fraying, and I’ve had it since my sophomore year of college. My friends used to ask me all the time about what it was and why I had it, what significance it held. I would sometimes tell them. But more often than not, I would make a joke or shuffle on to a different question.

The truth is this little strand of white string circling my wrist was taken from a stack of Collegian newspapers over two years ago. Every week, the papers come to our office in bundles of 100, protected by two pieces of twine that intersect to make a big T-shape across the papers. One week, after dropping off a couple of stacks as Starbucks, I decided to take one of the strings and keep it.

What I had realized by that point, a few months into the first semester of my sophomore year — and what has only become more true over the course of my college career — was how important The Collegian had become to my life, and how integral a role it would play in my college career.

Reflecting on my time with The Collegian is, all at once, a cacophony of emotions. The biggest of these is bittersweet nostalgia. The Collegian is the first major organization I have been a part of at Butler that is coming to an end as I graduate. I’ve been involved with my fair share of activities and events on Butler’s campus over my four years, but The Collegian has been the through-line in all of it, the thing that’s always there from semester to semester, the part of my life that grows in tandem with my personal growth.

Through The Collegian, I had the opportunity to interview students whom I otherwise never would’ve talked to, to ask the administration questions that pertained to pressing interests in the lives of students, to rant about my own personal vendettas and to learn more about my campus and the people who occupy it.

The debt of gratitude I have for the paper goes beyond just the immediate opportunities I’ve had personally. My time as co-editor of the opinion section has truly been one of the most impactful parts of my college career. Helping bring the stories and ideas of our talented writers to life has taught me just as much as my own writing experience has. Whether it’s an undeniably delicious chicken sandwich, our often absurd and immoral state government or the necessary fight for equality, our writers have written some genuinely terrific pieces, and I’m honored to have been allowed to work with them.

The list of people I could thank for my time at The Collegian is long and, frankly, pretty personal. I’ve worked with and under fellow editors who are kind, both in their edits and in their worldview, and I’ve learned how to become a better writer. The people I’ve met and worked with through this experience are more patient than I probably deserve, and I will always be grateful to the people, both past and present, I’ve become close to over the past four years. They’ve all changed my life for the better.

So back to the bracelet. Recognizing that this gets a little grandstand-y and pretentious, I think feeling genuine joy for the things about which you are passionate is often framed as a sort of dorky thing. I didn’t like to tell my friends what this off-colored and flimsy thread meant to me because I was afraid that it would make me vulnerable and show just how much The Collegian meant to me. I was afraid being vulnerable would seem gauche or pretentious; I was afraid people wouldn’t understand.

I said this reflection brought a wave of conflicting and inconsistent emotions. I am nostalgic, and I am sad that I’m never going to get to walk up the steps to Fairbanks 210, that I’m not going to have another late Tuesday night, that I will no longer be an active part of this organization that has meant so much to me. But what I also feel is pride, pride for all the people I’ve met and stories I’ve gotten to work on. My time at Butler would not have been the same without The Collegian, and I will be forever grateful for what it’s given me.

I never expected my little piece of string would hold together all these years. I’m glad it did.


One Comment;

  1. Maria Rapisarda said:

    Incredibly thoughtful piece from a wonder writer, editor, and person. So proud of you, glad to know you.