It’s really easy to hide behind a camera.
At every football game I didn’t understand, every press conference I zoned out for, every show that lasted too long, my camera was my security blanket. It didn’t matter if I didn’t know anyone, if I felt uncomfortable, if I didn’t really want to be there — at least a camera gave me a purpose.
The trouble with this sense of security is that it makes it way too easy to stay hidden on the outskirts of what’s really happening. If you experience something through a lens, it’s different than really taking it in.
It becomes too easy in all of journalism to create this shield from reality. If we report enough on mental health, we don’t worry about the mental health of the people writing the stories. If we investigate sexism and racism and classism, we overlook our own privilege and prejudices and mistakes. If we criticize the culture of competitiveness, we can pretend that we aren’t just as much a part of it as everyone else.
The Daily Pennsylvanian created some of the most unforgettable moments of my life. I’ve never been happier, or more exhausted, than at the end of the New Hampshire primaries or the DNC. Running on to the field for football’s Ivy title made me wish that everyone cared about Penn sports. Every march or protest or rally I went to made me feel like I was writing a piece of history.
But it’s the more forgettable moments that I think teach the most. Every time I cried from stress and exhaustion after a long night of production. Every meal or class or social event I skipped. Every time I complained about how much I hated the job I signed up for instead of trying to make it better. Or every time I failed to notice that someone I cared about was probably going through the same struggle.
Realistically, I know that people at the DP are going to be the only ones reading this. And you have made so much progress — it’s astonishing to see how far you’ve come from where I started a couple years ago. If there’s one thing I hope I can teach you, it’s this incredibly cliche and overstated lesson that you need to take care of yourself and take care of each other. Cherish those unforgettable moments, but don’t let each other go through the difficult ones alone.
Looking back, I can’t believe how fortunate I have been to find this little family at Penn. Through all the ups and downs, every wonderful and horrible and unbelievable experience I had at Penn and the DP has made me a better, stronger person. Even during the times when it felt like I had been chewed up and spit out, I always had someone to talk to or somewhere to go at 4015.
I was never a writer, so nothing I write will ever be enough to thank the people who helped me through it all.
Tiff & Irina — Thank you for being so strong and hardworking and supportive throughout such a difficult year. I know I’ll always be able to count on you.
Alex & Andrew — you’re some of the smartest and most talented people I know. Thank you for the laughs, rants, terrible movies, and everything we created together. Stay salty.
Riley — thank you for being there for me through everything, and for every little adventure we had. DMIW.
Carter — Kanye West Wednesdays will never die. Thanks for sticking with me from the start. (Someone owes us money for winning the bet, right?)
Will & the other DPOSTM whites — sorry for not knowing what a quarterback is. Thanks for letting me join your family regardless (even if it was just for the ratio).
Nick — I’ll see you in 2020.
Ananya, Carson, Julio, Sam, and the rest of my photo children — nothing has made me prouder than watching you all kick ass. When I see the work you’ve done, it makes me feel like I am part of something bigger than myself, and I’m so grateful to have been a part of something so special.
I used to obsess over being remembered. If my name was on enough walls or mastheads, it would prove that all the hours were worth it. It took a lot of time (and a lot of my stuff being ripped off of walls and thrown away) to realize that my name in print was far from the most important thing I gained or gave at the DP. What really mattered was learning from the many mistakes I made and leaving behind something I could be proud of.
Moving on is really hard. I am in no way prepared to actually be an adult (insert joke about my age) or leave behind the people and experiences that made me feel at home in the whirlwind of Penn. But, as several wise men once said: There’s nothing to be afraid of, even when the night changes.
ILANA WURMAN is a College senior from Boulder, Colo., studying economics and political science. She served as a design editor on the 132nd board and the sports photo editor on the 131st board.