May 12, 2021

BULKELEY | Thanks for Twisting my Arm

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Sometimes, peer pressure can be a good thing. I don’t mean the kind of peer pressure you’re warned about in middle school health class — I’m talking about the gentle arm twisting that comes from friends or even acquaintances who have more faith in you than you might have in yourself.

When I first joined The Sun as a sophomore transfer, I had no interest in ever being anything more than a staff writer in the sports section who attended the occasional game. But somehow, enough people convinced me to keep on running for higher positions until I ended up leading the department.

It’s important not to rely on external motivation to achieve your potential, but every now and again, that extra push is exactly what you need. I never considered being on the editorial board of any student newspaper — in high school, I wrote exactly one article for our paper’s sports section before quitting. I only even went to a Sun recruitment meeting because my roommates at the time thought it sounded cool (they never ended up joining).

I am fortunate to have been peer pressured into attending that first info session and eventually into becoming sports editor. For every time I said I didn’t want to take on more responsibility because I didn’t have the time or possess the leadership skills, I’m lucky that whomever I was talking to told me I was wrong. One of the things I learned from The Sun is that you shouldn’t be afraid to say yes to new opportunities, even if you’re nervous that you’re not completely qualified. 

I had my share of stressful times in the newsroom and disappointment at sporting events (even though we were technically impartial reporters), but there was also triumph. The first time I saw someone reading one of my stories in Libe Café, I took a photo (maybe a little weird, sorry!) because I was so excited that someone cared enough about what I wrote to actually pick up a paper and look at it in their free time. It was also strangely satisfying when a classmate — who evidently hadn’t paid attention to the byline on the back page — started describing one of my stories to me, thinking that they were providing me with some breaking news. I played along and asked them questions about the article.

While it might have been frustrating to never darty on Homecoming and to run late to weekend events with friends after an evening spent in the Lynah Rink press box , The Sun ultimately became one of the defining features of my Cornell experience. 

For every event missed because I was covering a game or asking questions at a presser, I created an entirely different set of memories that I’ll look back on whenever I think about my college years. From going to an ECAC Tournament and sleeping on the freezing cold hotel room floor to complaining about Midnight Edit at one of The Sun’s infamous last-night-of-publishing parties, I got to be a part of some pretty memorable times. 

I hate to think of how close I came to never running for an editorial position because of my inhibitions. Had I not listened to the people encouraging me to put more time into The Sun, my three short years at Cornell would have been so fundamentally different — and maybe a lot less meaningful.

Thank you to The Sun and everyone on it for all you have done to make my time on East Hill the college experience that I hoped for. And thank you for always pushing me. We had fun.

Christina Bulkeley is graduating from the College of Arts & Sciences. She served as the assistant sports editor on the 137 editorial board and as the sports editior on the 138th editorial board.