The summer before I began eighth grade, I read a book by the title of “Midnight Hour Encores.” The book (which I do not particularly recommend, so don’t run out to pick up a copy and then judge my literary taste) is about, among other things, a girl who plays the cello. She goes to audition for one cello teacher, and he asks her why she’s learning to play this instrument specifically. She replies, “Because it’s big enough to hold me.”
At the risk of sounding schmaltzy and saccharine (although I fear it may be too late for such concerns), this newspaper—and, more particularly, the editorial page (that’s this page, which you’re reading right now)—was my cello. Columbia Daily Spectator gave me a place at this university. It gave me my first group of editorial page associates, whom I still consider family, however much we’ve grown apart; my predecessor, Amin, from whom I learned both how to edit and how to be a better person; my co-editor, Raphael, with whom I learned that, though one cannot always get what one wants (which, in my case, is total control over everything, always), sometimes one gets what one needs (a co-editor with whom one can do what was, in my never-humble opinion, a great job); the 134th managing board, a remarkably talented and thoroughly decent group of individuals; and some of the best friends I’ve made at this school and in my life.
And, in ways that I will never be able to articulate, it gave me a sense of purpose. I cried (yes, actual tears) over this page when I did something wrong. I was prouder of myself then I’d ever been when I got something right. I loved soliciting op-eds from across campus in the hopes of creating a better forum for discussion and debate. I loved overseeing the writing of snarky editorials about the state of dining (my belated apologies to one Mr. Scott Wright) and slightly less snarky ones about what, exactly, the Global Centers do. I loved editing—taking something somebody wanted to say and helping him say it more persuasively. I loved that I had found something that was big enough to hold me.
It didn’t stay big enough, of course. And I moved on to find things that were. To study abroad. To meet new people. To commit myself with the interest and enthusiasm I learned while working for Spectator. To write a column and to blog and to be edited, instead of editing. To watch my successors (who, for what it’s worth, have made me very proud), and to know that the page is holding them now, not me, and that that is fine and right.
But that doesn’t mean that I don’t owe a tremendous amount to this paper. It just means that, because of my time at Spectator, I’m big enough to hold it now. To carry what it taught me wherever I go. To use it to play my next cello.
The author is a Columbia College senior majoring in Russian literature and culture. She was an associate and deputy editorial page editor for the 133rd volume and the editorial page editor for the 134th managing board. She is an opinion columnist and opinion blogger.