I doubt a lot, but not The Sunflower – The Sunflower

I’m the kind of person who thinks about everything. I’ll reread my article one more time before submitting, and I once gave my editor whiplash trying to figure out a specific detail for a story.

That means I’m also thinking about this farewell column.

But I don’t doubt the time I spent at The Sunflower, or even the lack thereof. Since I started in the spring semester of my freshman year, I knew I was joining at the right time.

However, I had previously thought about joining as a first-year student. But I came to Wichita State in the fall of 2020, when the campus was mostly empty and most of my classes were online due to pandemic precautions.

I decided against The Sunflower and focused on creative writing and work instead.

When sophomore year arrived, the return of in-person classes meant learning to revitalize the university. It was exhausting and after an already exhausting freshman year, it gave me a one-way ticket to burnout.

But somehow I started reading The Sunflower again that year. I had always admired newspapers, and had briefly studied journalism in high school. I loved it. When I picked up trouble that spring, I don’t know what changed, but suddenly I wanted to participate.

Yes, that didn’t happen.

Not yet. I knew it would be self-defeating to take on another responsibility when I was already struggling. Instead, I focused on myself and chose to work on healthier habits, which would probably make me sound too much like a “positive energy, your problems away” guidebook – which please, it’s not. That does not work.

Instead, another year passed before I felt ready to handle the workload that comes with The Sunflower. I knew that if I didn’t take the step, I would regret it.

So I did.

The Sunflower became my passion, and because of that, my first semester was both wonderful and grueling. It was a lifeline, an anchor.

In a semester where my anxiety was at an all-time high, The Sunflower held me accountable. I had to meet deadlines, write articles, people were counting on me.

I had a reason to keep going.

And participating felt good at the time. I had already improved my writing skills, and most importantly, the staffers around me were the best I could have asked for.

It was extremely satisfying to get real critical feedback on my stories. Mia, the editor-in-chief, is an incredible journalist, and their editing skills have sharpened my writing and pushed me to improve.

Not only that, but Mia and Jaycie, the editor-in-chief at the time, recognized my work ethic. I felt appreciated. Seen.

And every time I was pulled into a conversation after awkwardly hovering nearby (thanks, Mia) or complimented on my positivity (which is about Sascha), I felt accepted for me.

I still have that feeling.

In the fall of 2023, I was excited to become a news editor and not only get more involved in something I loved so much, but also be around the staff more.

Over the past year, I have spent more time in the newsroom in Elliott Hall than anywhere else on campus. The haze of exhausting weeks and stressful work nights is also filled with so much laughter and joy thanks to the people around me.

I’ve become overly excited and way too loud, or vulnerable, or freaked out by a story – and way too loud. But among the staff at The Sunflower, there was nothing but acceptance – for every part of me.

The Zonnebloem is more than just work experience on my CV or prizes I have won. I really love journalism, and I’m thrilled to delve into topics I find interesting and honored to hear moving, personal stories from students.

I am grateful to have connected with so many students and staff and told important stories.

And I’m grateful to all the staff at The Sunflower who make this such a safe, positive space.

Thank you to Jaycie for hiring me, running The Sunflower so smoothly, and driving me to the Kansas Collegiate Media Conference last year.

Thanks to Mia for being a wonderful editor-in-chief and friend. I truly believe I came to The Sunflower at the right time to be under your leadership, and I have appreciated how you have supported me through every story, every struggle, every doubt.

Thank you, Allison, for being my fellow news editor and the other half of our collective brain. Thank you for working with me at news events and late-night SGA meetings, for our wonderful discussions that can never last long enough, and for all your support.

Thank you to the many people who make The Sunflower so great: Melanie, Sascha, Trinity, Thy, Garima, Kristy, Salsabila, Jacob and so many others.

I may be an overthinker, but I’ll never doubt the time I spent at The Sunflower — not when the people here have made every hectic news week worth it.