May 23, 2019

SILVER | Don’t Read This Senior Column

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Don’t bother reading this senior column.

Well, you didn’t listen very well.

What do I know? I’m about to use this expensive, prestigious, elite Ivy League degree and pursue a career in journalism. I’m the stupidest person you know.

So don’t listen to me.

I’ve never liked when people try to impart upon me their wisdom. I don’t like motivational speakers, never cared much for guidance counselors, always butted heads with my parents. (luv u mom.)

I didn’t come to Cornell expecting to fall in love with journalism. The lack of a journalism major and occasional mistreatment of The Sun by the University makes it a climate not very complementary to aspiring journalists.

It’s better that way.

Sophomore year — the first of three years I regularly covered Cornell hockey — one of the game recaps I wrote received a comment from an avid reader. After I accidentally wrote something to the tune that one Cornell forward scored in the second period instead of the third and took the wrong stat for Cornell’s shots on goal (or something like that), I was told that my writing was atrocious, that I was — verbatim — an “embarrassment to the University” and that I needed to re-evaluate my life decisions.

Not lying.

Now I will say it’s petty and pointless to let comments from behind a computer screen bother you. But I was younger, impressionable. And it did. I never had that formal journalistic training, so I took it as an indictment that this might not be the path for me.

I tend to be a pretty self-conscious person in many realms of life, and especially so in my writing. It’s why I try to read so much of other peoples’ writing. I teach myself by absorbing the best qualities in the authors and journalists I read along with the people I spend my days with (quick shoutout to Adam, Joon, Phoebe and Paulina).

But I learned the most from just doing things.

I played hockey with the local Ithaca men’s leagues — “Beer Leagues,” as they are affectionately called. I joined The Sun. I carved my own path despite many people already having done so for me. I never listened.

And there were plenty lot of things I never did.

I didn’t climb the clocktower until senior year. I never made it to Ezra’s Tunnel. I haven’t been to the Farmers’ Market. I never streaked the Arts Quad …

(… Yet.)

There are a ton of stories I kick myself for never writing and a few that I wish I didn’t.

I feel like I have nothing revolutionary to say. I struggle with simple things perhaps many people don’t have trouble with. I don’t think that I’m especially smart, nor special. I had no idea what to say in this column.

It doesn’t necessarily matter. As cliche as it sounds, norms and rules are bound to be broken. Don’t listen to what I have to say. Don’t necessarily listen to what anyone has to say.

I guess that’s what I learned at Cornell Daily Sun University.

Zachary Silver is graduating from the College of Arts and Sciences. He was the sports editor on The Sun’s 135th editorial board, and a senior editor on the 136th. He can be reached at [email protected]