Lindsay Paulen: I never wanted any of this

Media Credit: DONNA ARMSTRONG | SENIOR STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER

By Apr 22, 2021 12:26 AM

Each year, graduating editors are given 30 final column inches – “30” was historically used to signify the end of a story – to reflect on their time at The Hatchet, published in the final issues of the year.

I came to college bright-eyed, bushy-tailed and maybe a little too ambitious. During my very first reporter meeting at The Hatchet, I bombarded former culture editor Liz Provencher with dozens of story ideas and questions only to find out that another student organization I was interested in joining would be considered a conflict of interest. I chose The Hatchet.

After a busy first year as a reporter, and eventually staff writer, I knew I wanted to get more involved. I interviewed for the position of contributing culture editor – and social media director as a back up – at the end of my freshman year. Literally hours after Liz called to offer me the social media role, my Intro to News Writing professor offered me an internship at GW Magazine, another conflict of interest. After much deliberation, I chose The Hatchet.

And despite going abroad my junior year, and literally fleeing all my GW-related responsibilities, I somehow ended up back at The Hatchet my senior year.

I have been involved with a lot – perhaps even too much – during my time at GW. But throughout my three and a half years at GW, The Hatchet has remained the only constant.

When I came to GW, I didn’t have a vision of joining the student newspaper, let alone becoming an editor. And unlike many of my peers, I honestly didn’t want any of this. I didn’t want to choose between two student organizations during my first month of college. I didn’t want to get hired for the position on staff I had applied for as a back up. I didn’t want to leave said position on staff halfway through my tenure to become culture editor. I didn’t want to stay up until 3 a.m. every Sunday night my sophomore year. I didn’t want to start writing essays for classes at 4 a.m. after spending all night in the townhouse. I didn’t want to say “No, sorry, I have The Hatchet” every time my friends asked me to hang out. I didn’t want to come back after going abroad for five months.

But the universe – and Liz Provencher and Sarah Roach – had different plans for me. They knew what I needed, even when it wasn’t what I exactly wanted.

They knew I needed criticism. Criticism that would make me a better writer, thinker and journalist. Criticism that helped me excel in my journalism classes and, no offense, write circles around most SMPA kids. Criticism that allowed me to grow and blossom into the person and writer that I am today.

They knew I needed laughter. Laughter from the staff of Volume 115 when Donna and I danced around the townhouse to the Hamster Dance. Laughter on Wednesday nights when Cayla, Liz, Donna and I screwed around in the EIC office instead of working on the newsletter edition. Laughter when Cayla gifted me the present of Matt Cullen’s Facebook friendship – even though he has since unfriended me – when she had me for Hatchet Holiday secret santa.

They knew I needed to learn how to face challenges head on. How to juggle a full course load, a job and other leadership positions. How to hold myself and a team of dozens of reporters accountable while highlighting the incredible culture of D.C. How to deal with hardship and come out on top stronger, wiser and more knowledgeable.

And even though it’s every GW student’s favorite thing to shit on, The Hatchet has given me so much. The Hatchet has given me more sleepless nights than I’d care to admit, but it also has given me some of my most cherished moments at GW and friendships that will last a lifetime. It’s an institution that believed in me, and my potential, even if I didn’t always believe in myself.

Even though The Hatchet didn’t always give me exactly what I wanted, it always gave me exactly what I needed.

DONNA ARMSTRONG | SENIOR STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER

Sidney, Molly and Anna: You saved my ass so many times during my short culture editor stint. Thank you for being reliable, loyal and ambitious. It has been so wonderful to watch the three of you grow and take on incredible challenges and responsibilities at The Hatchet. I’m so excited to see what the future holds for each of you.

Amy: I can’t wait to see everything you will do with the social team this year. It’s been a pleasure to work with you this year, and I know you will do amazing things throughout your final year at The Hatchet. P.S. Thank you for all the laughs from your TikToks.

Lia: You have big shoes to fill, but I know you will take on the role of EIC with class and grace. I wish you the best of luck as you take on one of the most important – and craziest – roles on GW’s campus.

Kelly: I will forever cherish our times together in the townhouse basement, where we stayed awake until the ungodly hours of the night, gossiped and had so many laughs. You made the 3 a.m. nights more bearable, and your dedication to The Hatchet was something I always admired.

Lizzie: Lizzie, Lizzie, Lizzie, you are a force to be reckoned with. I don’t think I’ve ever met anyone as detail oriented, passionate and dedicated as you. I’m so grateful for the friendship we have formed throughout our time at The Hatchet together. From writing a news story together during my very short news stint to stressing about Adobe Premiere Pro, it has been a wild four years. You have been an amazing friend, and I can’t wait to see all the incredible things you do.

Tyler Loveless: You were the first person I really got to know after becoming an editor at the end of my freshman year. Our chaotic and unexpected friendship was honestly the first indicator that I’d made the right decision to take on a leadership role at The Hatchet. I wasn’t sure what to expect when I was told that you were the one stuck with the responsibility of training me, but I couldn’t imagine being initiated into staff in any other way. I’m so thankful for our friendship and can’t wait to catch up after your second dose.

Cayla: I know I texted you the other day to joke about the time we went on a big/little date to Gelbucks. But in all seriousness, I vividly remember meeting you after a Student Association meeting and being so impressed by your poise and knowledge. Even before we met, I remember feeling a sense of pride that the girl who always had a dozen bylines in The Hatchet was also in my sorority. I’m so glad we had so many shared experiences – The Hatchet, our sorority and restaurant – because I don’t know who I would text to share gossip with otherwise. Hopefully the future will bring many more in-person gossip sessions over brunch at Convivial.

Sarah: I have a special kind of respect for anyone who has the guts to take on the role of editor in chief at this newspaper. I have even more respect for you because you did it twice. But for real, I seriously don’t know how you did it. Even though it feels scary and weird that we are graduating/graduated, I’m so excited to see you get a very well-deserved break. We have come so far since our first interaction, when I consoled you as you cried about your dog that was very much alive, and I’m so happy we are friends.

Liz: Elizabeth Provencher, where do I begin? I would love to tell everyone that our story begins at the 2017 Hatchet Holiday, but I wasn’t invited, so! But seriously, I’m so thankful that you convinced me to stay at The Hatchet not once, not twice, but three times – if you count that resignation letter Donna and I wrote one time. And technically a few more times if you count all the times I wanted to quit when I was culture editor. It was a serious privilege to be able to have you as both my first editor and first editor in chief, and you taught me so much about not only writing but also trusting myself and my capabilities. Our friendship is one of the best things this newspaper has given me. Even though it’s been too long since we’ve been able to play in the same city, I’ll always know where to find you (since I have your location hehe).

Donna: All jokes aside, I’m so grateful that I ignored my nerves freshman year and asked you to walk home with me from The Wing. I know I couldn’t have survived my time at this newspaper without you as my other half. When The Hatchet felt impossible or overwhelming, you were always there to make me laugh, dance with or write a resignation letter for me. I’m sad that we were old and washed up this year, but all the Volume 115 chillies definitely know that the Donna Bae and Lindsay legacy is forever. Our friendship is by far the best thing The Hatchet gave me. And even though I know you don’t like to say it back, I love you!

Volume 115: Lauren, Olivia, Graeme, Barbara, Renee, Zach, Annie and even Matt Cullen, thank you for making my first volume of The Hatchet so memorable. From heated ed board debates and gossiping in the townhouse basement in the literal middle of the night, I’m grateful for the hours and hours and hours we spent together.

Mom, Dad, Sami and of course, Lola: Thank you for always being there for me and never growing tired of me talking about this freaking newspaper. I’m so lucky to have had you all cheering me on these past four years. I wouldn’t be where I am today without all of your guidance, love and support.

Claire: You have been my rock through so much, especially during my time at The Hatchet. I’m so lucky to have you as my cheerleader and you’ve encouraged me – and calmed me down – more times than I can count. I love you.

The people who always heard “No, sorry, I have The Hatchet”: I don’t regret a thing.

-30-

This article appeared in the April 22, 2021 issue of the Hatchet.

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