Hack has to figure out what the hell to do with his life

I’m going to start by saying that this probably won’t be my last story with The Daily Orange. Probably. Even though I’m writing a story that serves as a farewell to The DO, I’m coming back for a fifth year to practice arts journalism.

God, this hack already sounds like the intro to a LinkedIn page. Let’s just say I’ll probably still be writing for The DO next year, because honestly, I have some stuff to do.

The biggest reason I’m writing this hack is because I’d rather have this story appear alongside the hacks of my fellow seniors, with whom I’ve spent four years sharing great memories and bringing out some incredible stories. I love the group we have and I selfishly always want to be a part of it.

I think this will serve as my farewell to the athletic department, a place where I feel like I’ve defined myself, but conversely has left me more confused about what I want to do with the rest of my life. It’s cliché and a bit of a bullshit thing to say, but I can’t imagine a life where I’m not doing something I don’t like, or at least writing about something I don’t enjoy. Whether I like it or not, and I think I do, my passions and interests will define me either way.

My problem is that I bounce from passion to passion in my mind far too often, so I end up choosing something unsatisfying. (I think this sounds pretentious, but I’ll just go with it.) So to quote Martin Scorsese (Yes, I’m rooting for Scorsese. I love movies. Sue me.): “I gotta find out who the fuck, that am I.”

This isn’t going to be one of those hacks where I say I’m not going to do sports writing anymore. I still really want it. But if I ever want to get closer to where I think I want to be in my life, I have to take this opportunity. I hope these words reflect that.

Despite all the uncertainty and overthinking that plagues me on a daily basis to a mind-numbing and exhausting degree, the DO Sports Department has been the one place I truly knew I wanted to be a part of for the past five years. I say five years because I remember reading The DO my senior year of high school. This place felt official to me. It felt like a place I wouldn’t be good enough to write for, much less join.

At first I didn’t do either of those things. Freshman year, in a time of Zoom classes, stale cinnamon apple gluten-free waffles, and a split double room only partially larger than the DO’s second-floor filing room, I didn’t have much to do or people to talk to . I wasn’t a partier and because of the environment around me I didn’t want to be that social. I had one boyfriend, but when he went home or wasn’t there, I would walk around aimlessly, usually at night around campus.

Usually I like to walk without a fixed spot, but the aimless nature of the walks felt different. As I listened to Mac Miller albums like “Swimming” and “Circles,” I really thought I wouldn’t amount to much or find purpose during my time at SU. It certainly felt like a mistake being here. I wanted to go back to boarding school.

It wasn’t until I got the DO contact from a fellow freshman who no longer even works at the newspaper that I was on my way to finding purpose. But as any sportsperson knows, your first story is always your worst and mine on a Cato-Meridian linebacker was a disgrace and rightly eviscerated. It made me feel like I wasn’t good enough for this place and I felt aimless again during an extended winter break, where most days all I did was interact with my dog ​​and binge “Game of Thrones.”

But then I got a text back asking if I wanted to be part of the Breanna Stewart Project. Then came the volleyball beat, then came the copy editor, and so on.

I felt like I had finally found it: a place I could call my own. It turned out to be a great place to choose.

Throughout my sophomore and junior years, I knew that the DO was where I belonged and that I would give myself completely to it. I remember a conversation between me and Anish Vasudevan where we said that we may all say we hate this job, but we actually love it and the amount of stress it brings. Go to and listen to random SU Athletics press conferences? Certainly. Writing feature stories for beats I wasn’t on? I think that sounds nice. Cover multiple beats while pitching about twenty tweets and a bunch of other stuff? Sure, why the hell not?

I lost sleep and became increasingly stressed as I did so, isolating myself from friends and family to become a women’s soccer staffer or something similar. I never seemed to mind. I just kept working and kept accepting higher positions. I just wanted to be there as often as possible. Even as a copy editor, I would show up maybe an hour or so early on production nights because I felt like I had nowhere else to go. I fell in love with this place, but at the same time strangely lost sight of myself.

Of course, this dichotomy would come to a full head when I was a DME. Working on the newsletter at 2:30 am on average? Every night? I think so. Automatically wake up at 8am to check the morning tweets and Facebook posts? Oh no.

For an entire semester, I averaged about five hours of sleep per night, and some days I became sleepier and physically weaker, even though I wasn’t sick. I also didn’t see my roommate until 2am most days. During those nights when I was up until four in the morning, it wasn’t that I didn’t have a purpose, it was that I didn’t even know who I was anymore. I felt stuck again, but this time I was a shell of someone who had hidden his feelings and had not been in therapy for too long.

Worse, I was even more unsure about what I wanted to do. I couldn’t write about sports or movies, so I felt really lost again. Whoopdeedoo.

But with the help of those closest to me (you know who you are), I came to the realization that there was an ending. I didn’t have to get caught up in this soul-sucking cycle. I could set my own conditions for the DO. This year, for better or worse, I didn’t force myself to go out and interact with people, compared to how I did the year before. More importantly, I decided to cover football and basketball while writing some movie reviews.

And eventually I realized that I needed something more and that my time here was not over. I’m still not. I want sports writing and film writing. I think I can do both and I want to do both.

Will I find out by the end of next year? Probably not. Maybe I’ll just throw the can into the street. Maybe this whole experience will lead me to the rest of my life. Or maybe not. Maybe this will be a bottle episode like on television. Maybe it’s something I’ll come back to. But I know this: The Daily Orange will always be a part of me and my relationship with it will truly never end. Even when I want it to end. But for now, I don’t want it to end.

Okay, if I keep writing, I’ll keep thinking about it. But maybe that’s why I love writing. Okay, I’ll stop. I can explore that question in another hack in another life. Hopefully this banter made sense. But honestly, it’s okay if it wasn’t.

I think I’ll leave you with two more things that I at least know for sure. First of all, I may still be thinking about the long term and worrying, but for the short term I am full of enthusiasm. And second, I’ll ironically quote a video game instead of a movie. This is from the 2013 video game ‘The Stanley Parable’, and I think this is true for me, The DO and everything else in the world.

“The end is never the end.”

Henry O’Brien is a senior writer for The Daily Orange, where his column appears occasionally. He can be reached at [email protected] and at X @realhenryobrien.