I went into college as a confused, self-conscious and anxiety-riddled 18-year-old. I was incredibly cynical and depressed, and I had a rampant eating disorder that only exacerbated my issues. I was truly unhealthy.
When I first started college, I attended George Washington University in Washington D.C. I was there for a year and a half before I decided to transfer to Temple.
My time there only exacerbated my mental health issues.
During my freshman year alone, I moved twice and had three different sets of roommates. My first roommate stole my possessions and money. My second roommate verbally and emotionally abused me over the course of five months, then held me at knifepoint.
My sophomore year wasn’t much better. The friends I’d chosen to room with turned against me and began victimizing me for my eating disorder.
I dreaded doing things. I wasn’t interested in learning, and I had grown to detest everything I’d once loved about journalism, politics and other social sciences.
I needed out.
The initial move to Temple was more an effort to escape extremely traumatic circumstances than anything else. When I applied to transfer, I’d never even been to Main Campus and had only visited Philly a handful of times. I was taking a blind leap of faith.
That winter, I was diagnosed with various anxiety disorders, manic-depressive disorder and mild post-traumatic stress disorder — every time I heard a door open, my heart would immediately lurch into action and my adrenaline would spike. I had recurring, vivid nightmares about my former roommates.
When I transferred to Temple in January 2015, I had virtually no friends. I felt alien to everyone and everything in Philadelphia. I spent a lot of time walking around the city alone, or sitting and people-watching.
During the 2015-16 school year, I became increasingly interested in graphic design. I had a decent understanding of the Adobe Creative Suite, but I wasn’t entirely confident in my abilities.
At the end of Spring 2016, my Intro to Magazines professor and the faculty member who I appointed my spirit guide, Larry Stains, suggested I apply to be a designer for The Temple News.
So I did. And I was accepted to come aboard the 2016-17 staff.
I wasn’t expecting much out of the job, to be honest — I had a tendency to not follow through on things, along with major commitment and trust issues. Joining a team full of strangers to produce a weekly, 18-page newspaper sounded like an undertaking that I’d quickly grow to resent.
I was dead wrong.
I have not once in my life encountered a more close-knit, determined and talented community in my life, and I seriously doubt I’ll experience anything quite like it ever again. There lives within that newsroom ceaseless amounts of passion and drive — it’s contagious.
I went from being a self-doubting defeatist who gave up at the slightest whiff of difficulty to a self-starting, scrappy creative who’s always hungry for a problem to solve. Whenever I wake up (sometimes it’s still not until after 1 p.m.), I immediately jump into action — I near-always have a project that needs doing, and nothing makes me happier.
Over the past two years, The Temple News gave me the strongest sense of purpose and belonging I’ve ever experienced. I have never felt more at peace with who I am and what I do after stepping foot in that newsroom.