o-widgerletter

I’m scared.

I’m really, really bad at talking about my feelings. It goes against my nature. In an effort to improve on that, what better way to ease yourself into it than opening up yourself to a bunch of random strangers on the internet? So, that’s what I’m going to do. 

I’m scared.

I came to the University of Nebraska-Lincoln in the fall of 2016 and quickly started at The Daily Nebraskan. As I talked about in my goodbye letter, I have been here for four and a half years, which is absolutely mind blowing to me. I was eager and excited for the future. There were so many opportunities in front of me and, as someone who came in undeclared, college allowed me to find out what I truly wanted out of my career.

Well, I did. At least, I’ve found what I’m good at. I picked up a camera for the first time a couple months before I came to college. And now, as I graduate, I have held an editor position in the multimedia section for three years as well as had photojournalism internships and freelance positions with publications like USA Today and NPR. 

While here, I have found my passion for capturing the moment, a split second of time in the history of the world as we know it. As much as I am my harshest critic, I am not too bad at it. I’m terrible at acknowledging my talents and not comparing myself to others, so that sentence alone was hard for me to type.

However, that enthusiasm isn’t present when I face the world of job searching out of college. My insecurities take over and I feel like I am wasting my time with many of them, seeing them as impossibilities instead of longshots. Instead of landing a job and kick-starting my career, I am fulfilling every college student’s dream: moving back in with my parents.

Now, that isn’t necessarily a bad thing. I’ll have free food, no rent and an opportunity to save up money for the future.

However, when I see my friends going off and doing great things, it starts to sting. I’m my friends’ biggest fan, and I know that they know I truly and deeply care about every one of them. I would never wish them anything less than becoming the best version of themselves they can be and it makes me genuinely happy seeing their success.

But, again, the insecurities take over, and I start to question my place in the puzzle of life. 

Heads up: if you think this is going to be an inspirational piece where you find out how I overcame these feelings and am onward and upward, this isn’t it. Sorry to disappoint.

All of my doubts about a career and friendships and everything all came to a point last week in the form of a medically-supported panic attack — thank you, new Adderall prescription. I found myself messaging my best friend, someone who is incredibly passionate about journalism and who inspires me every day. However, it wasn’t a message asking for help or support. 

It was simply, “Are we going to be friends after graduation?” 

As pathetic as that probably sounds, that was a serious message. I truly believe that she is going to become one of the top journalists in the world. And my insecurities tell me that in order to do so, our friendship will fade away, that I am holding her back from her launch to the top. 

Thankfully, she acknowledged that insecurity in a positive manner, assuring that no matter what, there was no way that I was going to be able to get rid of her. 

That’s what I mean when I say I’m scared. 

I’m scared for my future career. I’m scared that my years spent working on this degree will be wasted. I’m scared that my time as a photojournalist has come to an end and that it’s only a matter of time before I’m stuck in a line of work that I do not enjoy solely because of the need to make ends meet. I’m scared that all of the close friends that I have made will wither away after college, going from talking everyday to talking every few years when we cross paths.

All of these insecurities really find themselves connecting back to The Daily Nebraskan. I’ve spent my entire college career here. This is my home. This is where I made friends and developed as a person and as a photographer. 

And I don’t know what I’m going to do without it.

I’m an extremely sentimental person, and I know that I’m going to spend a lot of time reflecting on my years here, both in the newsroom and outside of it. As I write this, I am preparing to go back into the office for my last night of editing ever and preparing for a get together with friends before I graduate and move home. 

And while I know that it isn’t truly goodbye, that I will stay close with many friends and will become active with the paper as an alumni in one form or another, I know that I will be doing both with tears in my eyes.

One of the ways that I’ve been attempting to cheer myself up is by going back through Marvel movies. Note: if you haven’t seen “Avengers: Infinity War,” then this next line might be a spoiler, although I will try not to be too specific. 

In an emotional scene, Spiderman (Tom Holland) hugs Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.) and says, “I don’t want to go. Please, I don’t want to go.” 

That’s how I feel to everyone and everything around me right now. 

And I know that, well, some things are inevitable.

Like I said before, this isn’t a letter where I tell you how I overcame these feelings and how I’ve gotten better because of them. Because honestly, I’m still going through them. 

My hands are shaking as I type these words out, knowing that the feelings I’m describing are only going to get stronger and stronger as we get closer to graduation.

I do know this, though. Next year, I’ll still be on this Earth and doing my thing, whatever that may be. And the year after. And the year after that. I’ll still keep my friends close and embrace the title of “No. 1 Fan” for each and every one of them. I have no idea what any of it will be like, but I know that I will find some way to keep hanging in there.

Whatever it takes.

Dylan

Dylan Widger is the senior multimedia editor for The Daily Nebraskan. Reach him at dylanwidger@dailynebraskan.com