Writer gains confidence, finds friendships at the Texan

Marisa Charpentier

Editor’s note: A 30 column is a chance for departing permanent staff to say farewell and reflect on their time spent in The Daily Texan’s basement office. The term comes from the old typesetting mark (-30-) to denote the end of a line. 

Reporting just might be a shy girl’s nightmare. 

It forces you to email strangers, call authority figures and ask invasive, personal questions to people you’ve never met before. Sometimes I wonder if I really knew that was the world I was getting into when I walked into the Daily Texan basement two years ago as a timid freshman. 

My first semester, I took a utilitarian approach to the office. I frequented only when necessary — once every Sunday for Life&Arts pitch meetings and one weekday to review edits on my stories. I was convinced everyone knew what they were doing and I didn’t, that everyone knew each other and I didn’t. 

But I was also convinced this was a world I wanted to be a part of: people thinking of ways to string together the perfect lead sentence, discussing comma placement and bouncing story ideas off one another. So I kept coming back. I kept being pushed outside of my comfort zone to interview strangers and present my own story ideas, garnering a little more confidence each time. 

The greatest thing the Texan gave me, though, was the people. First there was Kat. She drew me out of my shell a little bit more every time I came in to work on a story. Then Katie, who I knew I’d be friends with the second she said her
favorite movie was “Into the Wild.” (P.S. The dress swap of the century will forever remain etched in my mind.)

And when my third semester came around, I found my band mates, my soul mates, my people. Running the Life&Arts section with Danielle and Cat has been the highlight of my college experience. When I think back to the hours we spent writing and rewriting stories, putting together in-depth packages and jamming to First Aid Kit, the words “golden age” come to mind — even though it was just a semester. Danielle, you inspire me with your words and your dedication. Cat, your passion for everything you write makes me want to be a better reporter.

When I joined the Texan, I didn’t know I’d find friends I’d want to work for hours in a windowless basement with every day or people I’d like enough to drive an hour outside of town with to spend an evening cliff diving and destroying veggie burgers (Sorry, Megan). 

This is probably the hardest piece I’ve had to write for the Texan, but looking back at these experiences brings me joy. It reminds me how far I’ve come since the day I nervously took those first steps down the basement stairs and makes me realize I’m ready to more confidently take on the world above.