Follow your bliss

The Spectrum

I thought I was ready to come to UB after graduating from community college. I thought that by going to a school that was six hours away from home, I would be happy. I thought it would be easy to do the rudimentary things that were expected of me at a new school, like being on my own, making new friends and getting good grades.

But everything that I thought would naturally happen didn't.

Buffalo became this place that I resented - a place that I wanted to escape from back to the comfort zone of my hometown any chance I had.

It wasn't until I joined The Spectrum that this all changed.

One of my favorite band's lead singers, Buddy Nielsen of Senses Fail, has a tattoo across his chest that reads, "Follow Your Bliss." This is an ideology that Nielsen adopted from American mythologist and writer Joseph Campbell. The short-and-sweet version of the philosophy is: by listening to your heart, everything will work out as it's supposed to.

"If you do follow your bliss, you put yourself on a kind of track that has been there all the while, waiting for you, and the life that you ought to be living is the one you are living," Campbell said. "Follow your bliss and don't be afraid, and doors will open where you didn't know they were going to be."

When I applied for the assistant creative director's position here, I didn't even understand what a newspaper needed creativity for. I applied for the position because I enjoyed doing graphic design and I needed a paycheck.

I never could have imagined the number of doors that would open for me at this newspaper by simply following my love for design and submitting my portfolio on that summer afternoon. Nor could I have ever imagined I would not only find a group of friends here in Buffalo, but a home and a family.

I remember the first time I ever missed Buffalo. It was spring of last year and my train had just left Grand Central Terminal for Beacon Station after spending the weekend in Manhattan with my coworkers from The Spectrum at a journalism conference in Times Square. This conference was the weekend leading into Spring Break, so I was going to spend the week after the conference at my parents' house, but I felt a bit lost not heading back to Buffalo with my friends.

This feeling was when I first realized how truly blessed I am to be working for this paper with these people.

The satisfaction of laying out their stories and bringing each piece to life for the past two years has been surreal. Working side by side with a writer to create a visual narrative for a piece that he or she has spent months working on is a lot of pressure. But the fulfillment of seeing our visions blend, having it all come to fruition and holding that tangible newspaper in the morning is a feeling that I'm forever going to miss.

The role of the creative director has transformed over the past couple of years since I've been in the position. But without the encouragement, trust and cooperation of the paper's Office Director Helene Polley, Faculty Adviser Jody Kleinberg-Biehl, Editor in Chief Aaron Mansfield and the rest of the staff, I wouldn't be half the designer and writer I am today. Your patience with my experimentation and faith in me to do my job has facilitated my growth exponentially.

Though this job has been demanding, I wouldn't trade a single one of the late nights or any of our memories for all the money in the world. I wish we could all follow our bliss together, but there is an infinite amount of doors just waiting for us to open in new cities with new friends creating new memories.

I'm not worried about losing touch or growing apart from anyone who has been a part of this staff.

Family is forever.