Edwards: We Aren’t Meant To Do This Alone


Emily Rincon

Portrait of Sheely Edwards in front of Carolyn and Kem Gardner Commons, where she has spent the last four years, in Salt Lake City on March 23, 2022. (Photo by Emily Rincon | The Daily Utah Chronicle)

By Sheely Edwards, Editor-in-Chief


I spent my first two years of college desperate to prove that I could survive on my own. I approached my undergraduate experience with a tunnel-vision-like focus set on my career and academic success. If I wanted a secure future, I convinced myself, my best bet was to put my head down and focus on optimizing myself for the job markets to come. I was lucky enough to attend a university that indulged my ambition, but this strategy didn’t work for very long.

Underneath the surface, my individualism had made me sick with stress and my insistence on self-sufficiency had made me isolated, disconnected and weak. Eventually, I was broken down enough that I had to face my limitations head-on. It was my time in Daily Utah Chronicle leadership that forced me to reckon with the reality that my individualistic goals were both impossible and undesirable. 

When I joined the Chronicle, I thought of it as a short-term gig that would fit nicely into my 5-year plan of committing to too many extracurriculars for a reasonably-sized resume. But as we all struggled together through the collective shitshow that was 2020, I began to appreciate my place in our newspaper community. 

When the COVID-19 pandemic began, I was just stepping into the role of opinion editor, which meant that I spent most of my time editing columnists’ articles and coordinating our publication efforts with other leaders — all from the dining room table in my apartment. I quickly learned how dependent my desk was on the work of other teams and how dependent I was on the work of our columnists. Every writer knows that they need their editor — trust me, I’m texting my editor about this piece as I write it — but we also need a photojournalist’s creativity and a copy editor’s diligence. 

The pieces started to fit together — I understood how others depended on me and how I depended on them. It was my small community of opinion writers and fellow leaders that kept me afloat during this period of isolation. I began to look forward to my weekly opinion desk and editorial board meetings, not because they removed items from my to-do list, but because I enjoyed all of the time I got to spend with my peers. It was then that we could commiserate together over living in such a cursed timeline. With each other, none of us ever had to feel as alone as we were. Because of them, the hard parts felt a little bit easier. We had to rely on each other for deadlines, but we also got to rely on each other for so much more.

I needed to accept that real-life connection matters more than “500+ connections” on LinkedIn. I know, devastating. But once I did, I gained a new perspective and renewed appreciation for our community as we returned to campus. This year, Chronicle student journalists have worked diligently to cover the most pressing issues on campus such as underpaid campus employees, gun violence, campus surveillance and the lost lamb outside the communications building.

If you couldn’t tell already, I’m really proud of this team. I spent an ungodly number of hours with various leaders and contributors this year brainstorming story ideas and offering feedback. And you know, what? I loved every moment of it. For the first time, I did it not because I felt like I needed to be busy, but because I genuinely loved spending time with them. 

While I often wonder what might’ve been had I not spent so many days working from early in the morning until late at night, I’ve never once regretted the time I’ve dedicated to the Chronicle. The work we’ve done and the time we’ve spent together have given me a profound sense of solidarity with everyone who has joined us in our shared project. That solidarity is the only thing that’s ever made me feel the empowerment and security that I used to look for in professional achievement. 

Myths about bootstrapping and meritocracy may flatter those who end up on top, but they can’t compare to the rewards of working together and in community. There is so much more joy in celebrating our collective successes than there ever could be in sacrificing ourselves in the hopes of shining brighter than another. None of us labor, create or thrive in isolation — and we shouldn’t strive for it either.


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