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Saturday, April 20, 2024
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Indecisiveness has plagued me for most of my life. And about four years ago, that lack of conviction set me on a path I never intended on walking.

In 2016, I was accepted into the UF College of Journalism and Communications and planned on joining The Alligator when I arrived as a transfer student. Unsure if journalism was the path for me, I elected not to enroll in UF and spent the better part of the next two years trying to figure out a career path.

I arrived at UF in 2018 as an English major and decided to enroll in a sports reporting class as an elective. I fought it for as long as I could, but I found myself falling in love with it again.

Telling stories did something for me that nothing else could. It helped me.

It gave me the purpose that I thought my indecisiveness had taken away from me. It gave me structure, focus and an end goal that I could chase.

I wanted to be the best writer I could, and when I joined The Alligator in the summer of 2019 as a senior, I made the conscious choice not to let my doubt hinder what I wanted anymore. Over the next year, I gave everything I had to that newsroom so when I inevitably left, I wouldn’t have any regrets. 

And it worked.

I thrived and made friendships that I hope will last a lifetime. This summer was going to be when I reaped everything I worked tirelessly for.

I couldn’t wait for the end-of-year party with the rest of my Alligator cohorts or to finally walk across that stage in the O’Dome six years after graduating high school and to start the internship I was awarded.

But COVID-19 changed everything.

I haven’t seen my coworkers in over a month, I may not be able to walk across that stage and that internship may not happen.

I’ve asked myself the inevitable question: Why couldn’t you have just enrolled in 2016? If I did, I would have graduated into a strong economy and could’ve ended my time at The Alligator right.

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I thought about it. I second-guessed my actions — or lack thereof — and played out the endless scenarios in my head. Now, as I’m graduating into what will likely be a recession as an aspiring sports writer without any sports in the world — I wouldn’t change a thing.

If I joined The Alligator in 2016, Sam Campisano and River Wells wouldn’t have hired me during my first summer in Gainesville. They wouldn’t have opened the backdoor to the newsroom for me on my first day and introduced me to the best job that I ever had.

I wouldn’t have met Dylan O’Shea, an incredibly creative writer, and one-of-a-kind friend, who never ceases to put a smile on anyone he’s around.

I wouldn’t have worked under Tyler Nettuno and Mari Faiello, who, besides being great writers and leaders, were my friends who showed me what it took to be editors in the best student-run newspaper in the country.

I wouldn’t have been able to strive to be as good as a writer as Kyle Wood and watch as he took on the once-in-a-lifetime challenge of being a sports editor without any sports. And to watch him succeed at it.

I would have never met Payton Titus; a wide-eyed freshman turned budding storyteller whose work ethic and passion rival anyone in front of her.

I don’t regret a single sleepless night or hour-long interview.  

If I could do it all over again, I wouldn’t change a thing. My only regret is that I have to say goodbye.

Joseph Salvador was a sports writer at The Alligator. Follow him on Twitter @JosephSalvador_.

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