A few weeks ago, I slacked Emi Nakahara, my science and health editor, a link to a National Public Radio article that cited the UCLA Loneliness survey. The story, about the increasing number of young people in America that are lonely, was a part of one of the dozen newsletters I had signed up for as News editor to collect story pitches.
I slacked Emi that pitch at 1 a.m. and she later joked that she was a little concerned that I came across it so late in the night. I simply laughed it off, not thinking much about it.
Thinking back on it now, that story did strike a tone with me. Although I’d never really thought much about it, I truly was lonely for much of my college experience.
Not that I didn’t have friends – I’d had some really close ones, good people who helped shape me to be a better person. But when I look back and think of those days eating alone in the dining halls, those days when I went by without speaking to a single person, I realize loneliness had crept into my life, without me even questioning or acknowledging it.
And what’s put this loneliness into perspective for me was my time as News editor this year.
I’d joined the Daily Bruin as a News reporter the fall quarter of my first year. I was just looking for a campus organization to get involved in.
But from my first story on undocumented individuals, I was hooked. And for the next few years, I stayed on as a reporter, writing various stories on the University of California and on student government. I loved covering niche topics on campus political issues, becoming a regular chronicler of the internecine battles that occurred during Undergraduate Students Association Council meetings in Kerckhoff 417.
For many years, I’d resisted applying to become an editor, telling myself I wanted to explore other opportunities, such as internships and other clubs. Finally, after applying on a whim, I became the News editor during my fourth year.
I was used to doing things alone, thinking through problems and situations on my own. But as the head of a 40-odd person section that had to produce an average of about 30 stories a week, I learned very quickly that there was little I could do on my own.
That’s when I came to depend on my five trusty assistant News editors: Hedy, Jacob, Anny, Emi and Sharon, who I dubbed the “A-Team.” While our relationship was professional at first, limited to figuring out content and managing writers, the countless hours we spent in the office really brought us together. I increasingly began to see them not just as colleagues and fellow students, but as close friends I could rely on and open up to.
Being an editor was tough. From the immense pressure of maintaining the standards of an award-winning newspaper to dealing with sources and situations that were unreasonable, there were times when I wanted to quit, when I asked myself whether the position was worth it. What made it worth it was coming into the office, knowing I had friends there who would back me up no matter what battles we had to fight.
And my friendships were not just limited to my assistant News editors. From our Opinion brethren in the resistance – Keshav, Abhishek and Jackie – to the many other friends I’ve made in other sections over the years, I can truly and unequivocally say the entire paper is one big family.
The loneliness I had experienced for much of my college experience essentially vanished this year. I had finally found a family on campus, a group of people I truly considered friends. We hung out outside of the office often, grabbing meals and studying together. I spent an inordinate amount of time chatting with some of them, sometimes ranting about Daily Bruin work but other times just chatting about life or the future of journalism.
And yes, thanks to Keshav and Kristie, I briefly had my name sullied and became an office meme – but all is forgiven.
If it wasn’t for my decision to become a News editor, my fourth year would have been rather unremarkable, mostly me spending time by myself – not necessarily unhappy, but living without any meaning and with little companionship. Instead, I made lifelong friends and had fun helping publish stories that held our institutions accountable and gave the student body the information it needed.
Having spent four years in the Daily Bruin, it would be remiss of me to not thank the many people that have taught me what I know and stood by me when times got rough, including: Jeong, Sam, Angie, Alejandra, Nick, April, Anny, Abhishek, Jacob, Hedy, Emi, Sharon, Keshav, Ryan, Kristie, Anush, Mackenzie, Maddy and Emily, to name a few. All of you have made my time at the Daily Bruin truly unforgettable.
When I first came to campus, I wondered if would ever find my place, if I would find a family at UCLA. I am proud to say I was able to do so at the Daily Bruin – after all, the A-Team cut a deal with me that once I’m done writing this column, I have to go get dinner with them.
Bharanidaran was a News contributor 2014-2015, News reporter 2015-2016, News staff 2016-2017 and News editor 2017-2018.