Senior Sendoff: Negative Nelly in a world of yes-men

Photo courtesy of Laurie Hough.


Looking back on the last four years at this humble university, I must laugh at the irony it’s created in my existence. From the age of 12 months I’ve spoken in full words — the first of which was clearly, unmistakably “no.”

This special word set a certain tone for the rest of my path — one full of obstinance, complaining and dissatisfaction; if presented with a mushroom at dinner, young Lauren would turn up her nose and defiantly announce, “No.” If offered to play puppies on the blacktop instead of soccer with the boys, “No.” If prompted to make any decision, like the proper middle child,  “No.”

But, Butler ruined me. Correction — a camera and the Collegian ruined me.

After transferring to Butler in the middle of my freshman year, I struggled to make friends — the negative new girl with a resting b*tch face can’t seem to connect with anyone? Shocking, I know. In a last-ditch effort to expand my social circle, I joined the Collegian.

As one of the few business students on staff — and the only econ major — I was quickly guilted into writing opinion pieces about personal finances and the COVID-19 economy. This was the first of many times I — regrettably — said “yes.” In the following months, I bounced back and forth between the photo and opinion sections in hopes I would one day weasel myself out of the opinion section to be a full-fledged photographer.

I somehow managed to weasel successfully, but that’s a story for another time.

In the days since, I’ve been hard-pressed to say “no,” but the word “yes” just keeps coming out. I’ve said “yes” to photographing events I have no business photographing, I’ve said “yes” to starting a business and being the Collegian’s photo editor, and I’ve said “yes” to photographing way more than my tight schedule can handle. 

But most importantly, I’ve said “yes” to late-night runs to Culver’s, I’ve said “yes” to Monday night trivia with fellow editors, and I’ve said “yes” to photoshopping Aidan’s floating head into Reece’s hand and Owen’s face over the cover of “Norman F*cking Rockwell!”

No matter how hard I try, those three little letters now curse my vocabulary: Y. E. S. Hell, the cute boy I fell for in 2015 asked me to marry him, and I said “yes” — what do you think young Lauren would think of that? Disgraceful.

But let’s be real — it’s funny how a fancy camera and a group of real friends can turn the pessimistic girl who “isn’t built for the college life” into one that feels sad to leave it.

Being behind the viewfinder of my camera has taught me a new way to frame the world: not from a perspective of negativity, boredom and frustration — but through the eyes of others. Photographing for the Collegian has given me the opportunity to connect with people, help others feel good about themselves, to raise voices that need elevating and to help others see how beautiful their reality really is

So, I encourage you to step out of your comfort zone and find the people that turn your “nos” into “yeses.” I’d like to thank a few of mine:

Annie, Alison, Emma, Isabella, Kobe and Matt: for always being a listening ear, tolerating all of my stupid questions and saying “hi” in the hallways — that means more than you’ll ever know to this RBF. 

Haley, Maggie, Abby, Elizabeth, Claire and Isabel: for being my creative comrades and wallowing alongside me about Adobe’s shortfalls. 

Aidan, Gabi, Leah, Mae-Mae, Owen, Reece and Sarah: for always making me laugh during pub nights and giving me a place to feel like I belong — even if I don’t understand all of your references.

My family — Mom, Dad, Sydney, Connor and Umma: for listening to my constant complaints over the years and providing the unconditional love that every human deserves.

My roommate, Meg: for enduring long Tuesday nights alone in our apartment, our unforgettable road trips and always talking my ear off when I need it most. I’ve never known a better friend.

My husband, Sam: The quiet, bright-eyed boy I fell for eight years ago — for always encouraging me to follow my every dream and for picking me back up when I’m down, no matter how far away you might be.

Capturing moments through a camera lens has forced me to simplify and clarify what I find most overwhelming in life — the chaotic world and its untold future. When I step into my new life outside of Butler University, I don’t know what lies ahead, but I now know how to reframe my perspective with community, empathy and positivity. I would not be in that position today if it weren’t for my trusty Canon and the yes-men in my life. 

Don’t get me wrong: I still complain more than the average person, and mushrooms will always elicit a “no” from my lips — but I’m beyond grateful to the people and experiences in my life that have helped me learn how to say “yes” to opportunities that come my way. Because now, instead of saying “no,” I can finally say I’ve been a part of something greater than myself.


Photo by Allie Siarto Photography


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