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The newsroom provided me with a sense of belonging away from home -30-

(Daily Bruin staff)

By Sravya Jaladanki

June 8, 2019 1:21 p.m.

This is so hard to write. Seriously, I’ve started five drafts already, only to stop midway each time. Nothing I write seems complete, almost as if I’m doing an injustice to my college experience because I can’t possibly sum up the best four years of my life in one column.

I applied to UCLA on a whim. So much of a whim that I didn’t even tell my own mother I was applying. In hindsight, that was probably not the smartest choice, but I convinced myself I had set an unattainable goal, and prepared for another four years on the East Coast. But then, it happened. I got in.

That marked the start of the longest summer of my life. My weeks were spent daydreaming about UCLA and marking down the days until I could feel the Los Angeles sun on my skin. I committed blindly without seeing the campus, as I told myself pictures on Google Images would suffice. I packed my bags, said my goodbyes and headed off to start my new adventure.

Little did I know, though, that college is hard. I mean, it’s extremely hard. I felt lost and confused by how the place that was full of forging lifelong friendships and making new memories somehow managed to make me feel so alone at the same time. My first few weeks were plagued with homesickness and culture shock, as I tried my best to make a home for myself in a place that was so far from it.

That’s when I decided to apply for the Daily Bruin my fall quarter. Unfortunately, I was rejected, and after reading and rereading the list on the doors of Kerckhoff Hall 118, I finally gave up and sulked all the way back to my dorm room. I buried myself in bed with ice cream and Netflix. I laugh about it now, but at the time it was almost like a bad breakup.

Winter quarter rolled around, and although the foreignness of my surroundings died down, I still craved a feeling of comfort and home that I hadn’t found. I decided to apply to the Daily Bruin again, and prepared for what I expected to be another soul-crushing rejection. The outcome is probably obvious by now, considering I wouldn’t be writing about the end of an era if I wasn’t provided a beginning.

My days soon became a whirlwind of pitch meetings and occasional unnecessary arguments with my editors about why I needed to change my angle, or why I couldn’t possibly write an article that didn’t have a peg. It wasn’t until my third year when I became assistant editor and was on the opposite side of these arguments with my own writers that I realized how difficult I had made my editors’ lives my first year (sorry, Erin Nyren!).

But whether it was as a writer or an editor, DB gave first-year Sravya what she had been craving for so long. It gave me a sense of belonging and a sense of purpose. Whether it was coming up with pitches every week or addressing edits for the thousandth time because I was incapable of keeping my editors sane, I felt myself growing. I began to realize my passion for writing and found both my writers’ voices and my own. Although I didn’t find it enough to speak up in the office as much as I should have, I did become unapologetically firm and passionate about what I believed in – both in and out of my writing.

Becoming an editor my third year only strengthened this newfound confidence, and taught me a great deal of valuable lessons along the way. I’m not going to pretend like I never messed up – I did. But I also learned how to hold myself accountable for my mistakes, and when to ask for help. I realized the job of an editor is two-fold. You have to oversee your writers’ work and ensure your section is doing its part in keeping the paper running. But you also have to be their advocate – helping them grow the same way DB once helped you plant your own roots and flourish.

As I reflect on my four years at The Bruin and at UCLA as a whole, my heart is full of gratitude. I’m a different person than I was when I walked into this school four years ago, and I’m proud of the person I’ve become as I walk out now, four years later. And for that, thank you Daily Bruin. Not only did you help me find myself – you found me a forever home.

Jaladanki was a Blogging contributor 2015-2017, assistant Blogging editor 2017-2018 and a Blogging contributor 2018-2019.

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Sravya Jaladanki
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