Fulton: Find your reason to show up every day

Jacob Fulton, Senior Staffer

I spent much of my sophomore winter in a bad place. Sure, emotionally — we were in the throes of a global pandemic, who wasn’t going through it? But in this sense, I meant it literally. 

That quarter, I was the Design Editor for The Daily, and I was single-handedly responsible for putting together a print paper twice a week. To do so required a trek to Norris University Center and The Daily’s offices, where I could access all the technology I needed. On Sundays and Wednesdays, I’d make my trip to the newsroom around 6 p.m., preparing myself for the work ahead.

If you were on campus at this point in time, you’ll definitely remember that pretty much everything was shut down. That included Norris. So for three of the coldest months of the year, amid a global pandemic, I would be the only person in our student center, working six to ten hour shifts. Oh, and my reward for all my hard work on most nights? A 25 minute walk home, often in the snow, because I was usually done after SafeRide stopped operating for the night. I look back on those nights and I truly don’t know how I did it — I’ve even been unable to explain why I stayed on The Daily when friends have asked.

This spring has been my first on-campus quarter without The Daily in my life, and it’s given me a lot of time to reflect. I’ve spent a sizable portion of that time trying to answer that very question, and it’s only recently that I’ve identified the reason I didn’t quit when I was strongly considering doing so. 

My birthday that year happened to fall on an unseasonably cold day that winter. As luck would have it, that was also a publication day. With a pandemic-struck staff and fewer people capable of putting together a print paper than I could count on one hand, I wasn’t able to take the night off. So that evening, I made my trip to Norris and met with other editors to plan the print paper. 

It wasn’t far into the evening when I got a text from a friend. “I’m outside, come let me in!” So I made my way down the 24 hour stairs — a staple of the Daily experience — and was greeted by a handful of my closest friends, shivering while carrying pizza, a cookie cake and a pack of Target margaritas. All Daily staffers, they were working remotely tonight like the rest of the paper. I’d initially prepared to spend that evening alone and celebrate later, but they insisted on joining me late into the night. 

For most of that quarter — honestly, most of that year — I, like many around me, felt incredibly alone. And late nights in a student center that could absolutely seem haunted if you’re the only person in the building definitely didn’t help. But through all of it, even when it would have been easier to stay in bed, the friends I made at The Daily would consistently show up. 

The days between now and graduation have dropped into the single digits, and it’s been months since I last edited an article in our offices, where I’ve returned one last time to put together our graduation issue. There was a time where I was worried my Daily friends would fall off the face of the earth after one of us left the publication. We were trapped in a newsroom together for dozens of hours each week — I was sure the absence of that built-in time would change our relationship. When it became clear that I was the one who would be the last to leave, I didn’t know what to expect, especially given the workload of running a student publication. But time and time again, the friends I made on The Daily were there to support me in ways no other friends would be able to understand. 

As I look back on my time at The Daily, I can’t say I won’t have my regrets. I’ll always wonder what my life would be like if I’d taken a different path at any number of intersections. But I know I won’t ever regret the fact that I found a reason to show up, day in and day out. And more than that, I found people who would show up for me in the same way. I’m excited for some healthy distance from The Daily, but I’ll continue searching for the rest of my life to find the right places to invest pieces of myself. As you embark on your next journey, I hope you find those places too.

Email: [email protected]

Twitter: @jacobnfulton