Truthfully, I don’t know how I can sit down and express to you, the reader, how much The Mirror has impacted me in my four years here at the University. I’m trying to find a way to summatively say, “I’m thankful for The Mirror because…” or “The Mirror means ‘x, y and z’ to me,” but I find it too hard to generalize four crazy years into a simple statement.
I figure I should start from September of 2014, when I was first approached to start writing for The Mirror. To give context, I had just started my first semester of freshman year, which was marred by a internal struggle where I didn’t know if being away from home was necessarily the right choice. I was a biology major on a pre-med track, but that wasn’t what defined me. It was a very private battle with anxiety that caused me near-constant panic attacks and thoughts about my existence that I care not to go back to. I would refuse to go out in fear of how my anxiety would react, which would reach its apex in October when I had a full-blown panic attack at a Weezer concert, causing me to retire from going to shows for a good period of time.
In that time, I was working my radio show with WVOF, “Grindie Radio,” which you can guess, focused on grunge and indie music with splashes of my jam band upbringing throughout. My interest in music only peaked more in college, expanding my taste to include a wide variety of genres. This came to fruition when I was asked to write a music review piece for The Vine section of The Fairfield Mirror for the current editor of the section, Charles “Chuck” DeFilippo. Mind you, I had zero previous experience with student publications as I had the “I’m too cool for that” mentality throughout high school, which looking back, was comical considering I’ve since embraced my nerdy archetype fully.
I remember my first piece that I submitted was a review of Ryan Adams’ self-titled record, which was my best attempt at nailing down my persona as a music connoisseur but after receiving my edits back from Chuck, I had realized I had a long way to go. After much back-and-forth, I finally opened the Oct. 2 issue of The Mirror to see my name glistening in the issue with my review of the album, which I sent to all my friends and family.
I found a knack for writing through my articles, which was honed throughout the following months and included a slew of album and concert reviews. However, I noticed this was at the expense of me losing interest in my endeavors to become a world-renowned neurosurgeon. As my dealings with The Mirror increased, I had realized that my career interest had shifted to the sphere of writing, and what do you know, I signed the paperwork to switch my major in early November, ditching what I knew was good money and a secure future.
Fast forward to March 2015 and I found myself being handed my first step in this long journey with The Mirror: the title of Vine Editor. My efforts were finally noticed, and I was beyond ecstatic to join a team of accomplished, young journalists. Yet, I felt like a small fish in an ocean of student journalism. As I learned all the necessary tools and traits of the profession, I felt as though I finally had my niche; there was finally a balance in my academic career that I found to be beneficial to not only my prospective career, but also, weirdly enough, for my mental health. My battle with anxiety still raged but it was much subdued as I took on more hours with The Mirror and built myself up to the journalist that I am today.
Now, looking back at my final issue as Executive Editor, a title I’ve been graciously holding onto for the past two years, I am here to say thank you to The Mirror for a once in a lifetime opportunity. I wish I could dictate the past three years as in detail as my first few months but I feel as though the first few months with The Mirror were the most transformative in my 21 years on earth, and that is no stretch of the truth. Having interviewed the likes of The Black Crowes, Dispatch, the String Cheese Incident, Twiddle and many more, as well as covering numerous concerts and festivals, I feel as though I have truly blossomed in my musical interest and have acquired necessary skills that will aid me in my future endeavors as a music marketer, having been fueled by my public relations experience I’ve garnered through the many music venues and musicians I have come across.
However, this journey has not been the easiest. It has had its ups and downs and there have been moments where I’ve been close to sending resignation emails because I couldn’t handle the stress in my life, which was only prolonged by my anxiety. Though, I have zero regrets in staying and fighting for my life, as I have formed bonds with a staff that trump any sort of difficulty that I have come across. I wish I could thank them all individually but I figured I’d just tell you that I love you all and I appreciate everything you’ve done for me in the past four years.
So, in writing my last article as the Executive Editor for The Mirror, I just want to say thank you. Not for just giving me the opportunity of being part of one of the greatest student publications in the country and giving me a definitive career path, but allowing me to fully embrace the man I am today and continue to be.
So I bid everyone reading this adieu and I hope that despite changes of staff every year, The Mirror is still true to what it is at its core; a family unit that allows each member to flourish in their own, beautiful way.