Trying to avoid regret at the end of an era
A guide to going with your gut in an era of your life where doing so will never be more encouraged
I never had a chance to make The Spectrum office the home it could have been.
Usually, these types of columns are a place where I should say “things didn’t turn out how I planned them, but I wouldn’t have it any other way.”
But that’s simply not true.
If I could go back in time to my first year of undergrad, I would have done things very differently.
My first time writing for The Spectrum was a mere nine months ago, and I’ve only been an editor for about seven and a half of those. And I wish that those numbers were more than doubled.
I’ve always had a passionate love for writing about the arts. I ran a blog from the ages of 15-18 specifically for reviewing music I was interested in. I frequent RateYourMusic.com, a website that is specifically for sharing opinions on albums. Since joining the site when I was 12, I’ve amassed nearly 1,600 ratings.
But I never put two and two together and took that next step into truly getting my love for the arts out there by writing for The Spectrum until my undergraduate experience was coming to a close.
The world even threw me a bone during my first semester, when a mutual of mine and current EIC Brenton Blanchet’s invited us to the same Super Smash Brothers night. I remember him mentioning his love of music and interest in writing on The Spectrum’s arts desk. While that day seems to be a distant memory, we definitely talked about Kanye West.
But I just went on after that night without taking any action.
The world threw me another bone in the beginning of my third semester when I took ENG 212: How to Write Like a Journalist. I loved the class and got an A, but I never signed up for the paper.
It was like seeing the horizon of a new world, but simply turning around and going back home.
I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about why I didn’t just take the leap until recently. I knew my gut was telling me to sign up for the class or at least contribute an article, and I knew that I wanted to write about things I was passionate about and give it a platform for other people to see.
But I think I was scared.
I was scared of the criticism, scared of the thought that maybe what I was writing wasn’t 100% perfect. Even as I write this I know that this first draft is not going to be exactly what readers are going to see.
But I’m not as scared of it anymore, and that’s why I wish that I had done this earlier in my life.
Since signing up for The Spectrum, I’ve had dozens of articles published. I’ve interviewed artists I admire, reviewed albums and films I love –– and didn’t love –– and it granted me opportunities that I could only dream of before just doing it.
Now, I contribute articles for Canadian arts blog Exclaim!, my ability to write has improved immensely, and most importantly, I’ve been able to make lasting connections with my peers at The Spectrum.
But I wish that I’d had years to get to know them instead of months.
This type of thought process is inherently negative, and there’s nothing that I can do to change anything I regret; I’m not a time traveler.
So instead, I’m going to appreciate the time that I spent at The Spectrum. I’m going to cherish the friendships I’ve fostered. And while I wish that we’d gotten the chance to say an in-person goodbye, these strange times have made the endings of many aspects of our lives unceremonious and digital.
I’m happy that I was able to have the little time I had at The Spectrum. I almost never did it at all.
But I did. And you should too, even if you’re intimidated.
You won’t have the same experience that I did, but that’s okay. It may change your life anyway, and college is maybe the greatest time to chase your passions and interests.
I may have never had that chance to make The Spectrum office the home it could have been, but I’ll never regret being a part of it for the short time that I was there.
Alex Whetham is the Senior Arts Editor and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @alexo774.