Established 1826 — Oldest College Newspaper West of the Alleghenies

An open letter to self-conscious dumpster fires

Devin Ankeney holding their dear and true love: the first newsroom fan while they sit in front of a whiteboard that has still not been erased a year later.
Devin Ankeney holding their dear and true love: the first newsroom fan while they sit in front of a whiteboard that has still not been erased a year later.

The past four years of my life, in the whirlwind of college, in the oversight-free environment of young adulthood, have not been the “best four years of my life.”

In my first year on campus, there were only a handful of students to interact with. I had no sense of self, and people shouted homophobic slurs at me and threw trash at my door. I lived alone and drank too often with the people I was stuck living near in Peabody Hall because I thought those people were genuinely my friends. 

It took my whole sophomore year to realize what I wanted to major in. I was stuck in a relationship I hated and never grew a pair large enough to actually pursue what I wanted to do on a given day. 

For most of my junior year, I hardly ever left my apartment and found myself as the crappy half of an otherwise good relationship.

In these past four years, only one has truly been the best of my life.

Since the middle of March 2023, I’ve spent countless hours in The Miami Student newsroom. I’ve made great friends with my peers there and really found out who I am. 

I’ve come out of a years-long struggle with my gender identity, not wholly happy, but proud of who I am. 

I love my friends. So much so that listing out the names would be an injustice. You know who you are. 

Except for the moments when my depression and anxiety get the best of me, I’m confident they love me, too. These days, I spend almost every day with them — even if doing so is virtual.

Without these friends I’ve made, I don’t know what my life would look like today. Genuine “happiness” would almost assuredly be out of the question. I get too excited every time I get a text from my friends because it always feels like I’m lucky to have these people — whom I met in a college newsroom, of all places — in my life.

Until this past year, I didn’t believe I was someone capable of being “normal.”  I didn’t think I could simply know who I was and have great friends with whom I do wonderful things and spend so much of my time.

While that doesn’t stop me from being a doubtful, anxious mess sometimes, I find myself realizing more and more that I’m not a screw-up. I’m a human as much as anybody else.

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Everybody takes time to realize what they love to do. Everybody gets jealous. Everybody’s living through a dumpster fire in their own right.

We’re all just figuring it out as we go along.

As I write this, I’m sitting on my couch on a Saturday night. In another life, I’d be out partying with depthless friends, getting drunk, waking up and repeating the process next week.

I used to hate spending my Saturdays in, doing assignments and other work. Now, I have found joy in the simple knowledge that I’ll hop on Discord with my friends in a few hours.

Looking back at these four years, I see two things. I see three years largely of absentmindedly staying on course; trudging through the muck life threw at me. But, I see one year, tacked right onto the end of this train, where I found my people.

In this one year, I’ve met the best friends I’ve had since I was little. I’m trying so hard to cherish every damn second I have with them. Yet more often than not, I fear so much for what’s to come in only a matter of a few months, when the life I’ve spent four painstaking years building will cease to exist as I know it today. I’m trying to revel in what I have found, though, and who that has made me.

It took three long, shitty years to figure out who I am. It’s going to be a painful reality when I inevitably move hundreds of miles away from the friends I hold so close to my heart. However, this past year will be the one above all before it, the one to sit atop the mountain of fear and loathing and aimless wandering that came before it.

Can it be that all I get is but one year I will remember so fondly?

But, I remind myself, that in just this one, unexpectedly jam-packed year, I’ve found myself.

I’m an imperfect mess. I love my friends dearly. I love writing. I feel like I’m behind the curve. I don’t know what I want to do with my life. I love movies and video games and any moment I can get with my friends. I’m anxious. I’m proud of myself.

We all contain multitudes, and all it took was joining a college newspaper to start to be OK with mine.