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Learning to confront self-doubt to find my place in Daily Bruin Opinion -30-

Sabrina Huang stands for a portrait. (Megan Cai/Assistant Photo editor)

By Sabrina Huang

June 4, 2022 7:25 p.m.

If I’m being honest, a part of me has always questioned whether I belong in the Opinion section.

I’ll be the first to admit that I am an introvert. Social interactions are not just exhausting for me; they are terrifying. I run as fast as I can from confrontation and usually keep my opinions to myself, even if I feel strongly about them.

That’s why it is ironic that the place I have called home for the last three years is the part of the Daily Bruin that is the loudest and most prone to confrontation.

Initially, I was going to apply to the News section. I was a news writer for my high school’s newspaper and felt most at home running around, reporting on campus happenings. But after thinking about it, I decided to apply to the Opinion section. I have always preferred the written to the spoken word, and as my passion for social justice grew, I began to see writing as a resource that communities could use to challenge the status quo. I figured Opinion’s platform would allow me to advocate for the change I, and hopefully others, wanted to see.

For reasons I still do not understand, I was accepted to The Bruin.

I spent my first year as a columnist writing about topics ranging from student houselessness to indoor sprinklers. I enjoyed what I was doing because I loved listening to people’s stories while also calling on institutions to address the day’s most pressing issues. I was planning on doing the same thing my second year with The Bruin, but one of my editors encouraged me to apply for an editorship. Being a self-doubting introvert, I was simultaneously flattered by and wary of her words. In the end, I convinced myself at the very last minute to apply.

Though I was lucky enough to be selected as an assistant Opinion editor, I began doubting myself the minute I stepped into the position. I didn’t feel I was qualified, and I certainly didn’t believe my writers thought I was. To compensate for what I felt were my many deficiencies, I spent hours editing columns, reading them over and over until I was satisfied I had done my best work. Most days, I would spend more time on Camayak, The Bruin’s publishing platform, or Slack than with my family.

By the end of my term as assistant editor, I was ready to call it quits. But something told me that I should stay for another year. So I applied to be top editor, not expecting much.

I was excited beyond words when I found out I had Ianded the job. Before long though, that excitement turned into exhaustion, the exhaustion into frustration and the frustration into doubt.

Whenever there was a correction in a story or a delay in production, I questioned whether I was providing enough support to this year’s assistant Opinion editors, Navdeep Bal and Payton Kammerer. Whenever people did not participate in editorial board meetings or volunteer to write editorials, I questioned whether I was leading the board to the best of my ability. Whenever a columnist quit, I questioned whether I was doing everything I could to make the Opinion section a healthy work environment.

If I felt stressed by deadlines or new policies, I kept silent because I thought any issue that arose was mine to handle. I didn’t speak up until I had to, and by then, the damage to my mental health had already been done. The irony of leading a section that requires its writers to be unapologetically bold was not lost on me and compounded my insecurities.

Looking back on my time at The Bruin, I wish I hadn’t doubted myself so much. It would have saved me many headaches and sleepless nights. I probably would have fewer gray hairs.

But at the end of the day, I don’t regret anything. The Bruin pushed me to assert myself in ways that I never imagined possible. It taught me the importance of speaking up in a workplace that can feel cruel and unforgiving. Above all, it gave me the courage I never knew I needed.

I joined the Opinion section to give voice to others, but I found my own voice along the way. And I am grateful for it.

I am also grateful for the people who have kept me sane these past few years.

Nav and Payton, thank you for leading the Opinion section with me. I hope you are proud of all that we have accomplished together. I will cherish the memories we created for the rest of my life.

Annika, my dear friend and The Bruin’s Enterprise editor, thank you for listening to my frustrations with the job. You will never know how much you mean to me.

To The Bruin’s columnists, thank you for letting me work with you to tell your stories and the stories of our community. It has been the honor of a lifetime.

My time here wasn’t perfect, but I have learned to make peace with it. I just wish I had done so sooner because it is only now when I am about to leave that I have come to understand what I wish I knew from the very start: Opinion was always where I was meant to be.

I hope I did the section justice.

Huang was an Opinion columnist 2019-2020, assistant Opinion editor 2020-2021 and Opinion editor 2021-2022.

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Sabrina Huang | Opinion editor
Huang is the 2021-2022 Opinion editor. She was previously a 2020-2021 assistant Opinion editor and an opinion columnist. She is also a third-year public affairs student at UCLA.
Huang is the 2021-2022 Opinion editor. She was previously a 2020-2021 assistant Opinion editor and an opinion columnist. She is also a third-year public affairs student at UCLA.
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