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Hit pause and look around

This column is part of the Daily Bruin’s Graduation Issue 2011 coverage. To view the entire package of articles, columns and multimedia, please visit:

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By Alex Goodman

June 4, 2011 10:51 p.m.

You never know when you’re going to have the time of your life or what it’s going to look like. For me, it looked like countless stressful hours spent in the windowless office of the Daily Bruin.

You can’t plan for these things. All you can do is keep your eyes open for them, and when you realize you’ve stumbled into something amazing, enjoy it with every ounce of enthusiasm you can muster.

Sometimes, that will be easy to do. You’ll write an enlightening story, produce an eye-catching newspaper, win an award. You’ll create nicknames for your co-workers, share inside jokes with them, form everlasting friendships with them.

But there will also be the low and lousy times, and if you know what’s good for you, you’ll find something to cherish then, too. Not all beauty is obvious.

When you think your life is going terribly, stop for a moment and look around. Chances are, you’ll find someone who’s suffering with you, or someone who can take your mind off things or, best of all, someone who’s there for you until the end.

This is especially easy to do when you work at a newspaper. Journalists are an unusually bitter and jaded bunch, convinced that their industry is both the best and the worst on the planet, and that feeling promotes a special kind of bond. Pretty much any time you’re wallowing in the newsroom late into the night, you can turn your head and find all three aforementioned types of people.

Of course, sometimes you’ll have to do things that don’t seem to have a silver lining. If you can change that in any way, by all means do it. Otherwise, I’ve found it works best to make a point of liking them anyway.

But if all else fails, remember that the human brain often works in wonderful ways. We bounce back from the bad times much quicker than we come down from the high of the good ones. So take risks when it’s smart to do so ““ don’t be afraid to fail or succeed in spectacular fashion. In either case, remember to laugh. Always remember to laugh.

There’s a ready-made life lesson to take from working on a newspaper. Every day you have to assemble a new issue, so you go into the office and do the best job you can. If you make a mistake, you’d better learn from it and move on, because the next day, you have to start all over again.

A few other things I’ve learned from journalism: Know your code of ethics, and stick to it. Learn everything you can and share it with the world. Talk to people in person whenever possible. Ask follow-up questions. Always accept free food. “Towards” is not a word.

But most of all, don’t just be open to incredible things happening to you ““ seek them out and make them happen. At the Daily Bruin I found a home and a family to share it with.

So thank you, Maryia and Lauren and Sammie, for the best year a&e has ever seen ““ because of you three, I loved walking into that office every single day. Thank you to all of my writers for making my job so delightful. Thank you Sonali, Theresa, Erica, Kelly, Devin and Sam ““ your friendship means the world to me, and it always will. And thank you, Amy Emmert, for believing in me.

Thank you, thank you, thank you, to every person I worked with. You will stay with me forever, in those hallowed halls where I keep my fondest memories.

Goodman was an assistant a&e editor for 2010-2011 and an a&e contributor from 2008-2010.

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