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Sunday, June 16, 2024

When an Alligator editor texts to say you’re a great writer, believe them. When they follow it with “Sorry, wrong number,” believe them anyway.

I wouldn’t be here if I hadn’t.

I applied to join The Alligator during my senior year at UF. It’s a late start, but it was the one I needed. I was coming off of months of immobility and depression, and my application felt like a first step toward normalcy.

The job began almost immediately after. I scrambled to meet deadline, and my story made it to the front page the next day.

I’d like to say it was a natural fit after that, but it wasn’t. Each assignment came too fast, and each deadline even faster. I’d have drafted my two-weeks’ notice in a heartbeat, but I didn’t have the time.

Instead, I kept writing. The friends I made along the way made the writing easier. We wrote about the rumors of COVID-19 that spread to the university before the virus did, and we kept the newsroom running from a distance.

The pace was relentless but exhilarating. For the first time in months, I didn’t spend hours in bed. I couldn’t afford to.

The semester ended as quickly as it began, and suddenly I was managing editor. The exhilaration and exhaustion I’d felt during the months prior only multiplied.

It seemed that every day brought a new ethical dilemma, a newly enraged reader and another breaking story. My responsibility grew from one beat to an entire paper, the weight of which bore into my spine and pulled my shoulders down.

Hannah's goodbye column

She's smiling under the mask.

But more than that, it brought me closer to the Gainesville community and the team of reporters I worked with. I still get sweaty before dialing into Zoom, but I wouldn’t trade the hours spent on video calls with editors for anything.

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Whether you’re coming out of a depressive season or are stuck in the middle of one, know there are better things ahead. Better stories to tell, better friends to make and definitely better editors to compliment you.

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