Established 1826 — Oldest College Newspaper West of the Alleghenies

A scared first-year laughed his way out of his comfort zone and never looked back

In preparation for Green Beer Day 2023, Patrick Sullivan reps head-to-toe St. Patrick’s Day attire.
In preparation for Green Beer Day 2023, Patrick Sullivan reps head-to-toe St. Patrick’s Day attire.

Four years ago, I was sitting in my bedroom at home when I logged onto myMiami for a virtual Mega Fair in September 2020. It was the beginning of a new chapter in my life, and I only knew two things: I want to get completely out of my comfort zone, and I want to make people laugh.

While I didn’t know it yet, holding myself to those two goals would completely alter my college career for the better. 

I was scrolling through all of the different Zoom links that would connect me with a multitude of different clubs that could have moved my college career in all sorts of directions when I came across The Miami Student (TMS). I always enjoyed English class, but I’ve never had any experience with writing, much less with covering the news. But, it was out of my comfort zone, so I joined the Zoom.

The person who was sitting on the other end of the Zoom link at that particular time just happened to be The Student’s old humor editor, Jessica Robinson. I told Jessica my two goals, and she introduced me to the humor section. I explained to her that I had never written an article before. She told me to just write what I thought was funny, and we would work together to make it fit for the newspaper. 

I wrote my first article about how different it was to start college virtually. When I first sent it to Jess, it was a complete mess. She had the patience and the skill to unearth the actual funny parts of the story, build around them, add jokes, fix grammatical errors and instill confidence in me to do it all over again.

Seeing my first article printed in a published newspaper was so cool! I kept writing, and slowly, I became a stronger, funnier writer. I cannot begin to thank Jess enough for all of the patience she had with me. She would edit the crap out of my articles to make them stronger, and then she would meet with me outside of TMS meetings to explain the edits and to make me a stronger writer. 

At the end of my first year, Jess asked if I wanted to learn how to be an editor, so that junior year I could replace her as humor editor. Her confidence in me was moving, and I said yes immediately. Jumping ahead to my final two years at Miami University, Teddy Johnson and I co-edited the crap out of the humor section. 

I have loved every second as a writer and every second editing with Teddy. I loved meeting with our strong, always hilarious humor team to hear what ideas everyone has for the week. I loved sitting at production meetings sneaking seconds of free pizza while I hoped for our editor-in-chief, Sean Scott, to finally accept some of my jokes that might toe the line. I loved hanging out with everybody at Claudia Erne’s house and growing close with a great group of people that I have been lucky enough to call my friends. 

My one piece of advice to any who cares to listen is this: force yourself out of your comfort zone. If I hadn’t made that tiny little jump to a certain TMS Zoom link during my first year’s virtual Mega Fair, my college experience would have been very different. I wouldn’t have a creative writing minor. I wouldn’t have met so many great people and made great friends.

I wouldn’t have had the confidence to continue putting myself out there and trying to make people laugh and trying to pursue professional stand-up comedy after graduation. 

Take the jump. Force yourself out of your comfort zone. 

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