Sarah-Grace Sweeney

Photo Credit: Lauren Ussery | Daily Texan Staff

On the days I came home from school crying because I felt like I didn’t fit in, my mom always promised I would find people like me in college. I’m sure I didn’t believe her. But if there is anything I’ve learned, it’s that moms are — eventually — always right. 

Once I got past being completely terrified of them, I met those long-promised friends at The Daily Texan. 

Some of my closest friends now are the people I was most afraid of in my first few months. For weeks, I was visibly nervous around Kelsey McKinney and Sarah-Grace Sweeney, the Life & Arts editors who hired me five semesters ago. Aleks Chan was so scary to me that I avoided speaking to him at all costs.

What I didn’t know then is that Kelsey, Sarah-Grace, Aleks and the rest of the Daily Texan staff were also scared. We were all scared of failing, and, even more, we were scared of having to leave the dimly lit basement office for the real world that waited outside. 

I think that fear is part of what makes the friendships you form at the Texan so valuable. It’s a place full of people who are there for you if — and when — you fail. More importantly, it’s a place full of people who do everything they can to help you succeed. 

The basement always felt to me like a collection of supremely talented misfits, and I mean that in the most endearing way. I got the sense that, when I was in the basement, I was surrounded by people who were waiting to find a place to fit in, just like me. The Texan might have been the only thing holding us all together. But it was enough.

I’ve watched most of the people who worked for the Texan when I was hired leave the office for the last time. I’ve also seen a lot of new staffers walk into the office for the first time, looking just as terrified as I did on my first descent into the basement. Part of me wants to warn them that, if they spend too much time in this office, they’ll never be able to leave it — but then they’d miss out on all the fun.

To Kelsey, Sarah-Grace, Aleks and Kelly, thanks for helping me feel less afraid of the Texan and of life in general. To Lauren, it was an honor to work for you, and I can’t wait to read all the stories I know you’ll write. To Kat, know you are part of a weird Life & Arts family that spans several generations of this newspaper. 

To all the future staff members of The Daily Texan who walk down those stairs with tentative steps, know that there is nothing to be scared of in that basement. It will always be the safest place on campus for misfits like us.

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Photo Credit: Jonathan Garza | Daily Texan Staff

The only way to begin this properly is by thanking the three women who gave me the outlet to write about music here for the past year. 

First, I have to thank Sarah-Grace Sweeney, who hired me and provided me with the opportunity in the first place. She took a chance on me and introduced me to this world of wonderful people, and then she took the time to edit my, at times, illegible writing and make it coherent. 

Secondly, I need to thank Hannah Smothers, who pushed me outside of my comfort zone by encouraging me to write reported stories instead of just reviews and interviews. I was able to learn so much about Austin by seeking out and talking to people, and I also was able to get real experience being a journalist. She helped me through my edits and taught me so much that, I would like to think, my writing became stronger from when I started.

Lastly, I would like to thank Lauren L’aime, who helped edit my pieces and assisted me with questions over the past semester. She, along with the others, is one of the nicest and most helpful individuals I’ve ever met, and she is going to do an incredible job editing the section in the fall. 

If I have any good advice worth listening to, it’s to find a way to do what you love. I made the mistake of waiting until my last year in school to start writing for the paper. In the past year alone, I’ve met so many people at The Daily Texan and KVRX, and I wish I had been able to start that earlier. I hope you enjoyed the pieces I wrote over the year and, hopefully, discovered some new music you liked. I know the person who will be covering music for The Daily Texan next year, and I can guarantee he will do a much better job at this than I ever did. 

If writing is something you enjoy, I highly encourage you to try out for The Daily Texan. In the past year, I got to have so many amazing experiences meet many of my musical heroes through this. 

I got to talk to members of Phoenix, Savages, Superchunk, Bikini Kill, Future Islands, Fucked Up, Perfect Pussy, The Range, Sleigh Bells, Parquet Courts, Loop, Angel Olsen, Mutual Benefit, Mikal Cronin, Potty Mouth, White Lung, Bleached and many more. I even had an email conversation with Lil B in which he gave me his number. 

It’s been a dream come true, and I’m really grateful for everyone that gave me the chance to do this job.

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