This I Believe

For a while in the 2000s, NPR ran a segment called “This I Believe.” The show brought in famous guests like Amy Tan or Muhammad Ali, as well as regular people, and challenged them to express their deepest beliefs in an audio essay.

A few months before my sophomore English teacher decided he no longer wanted to teach and would instead go hike the Appalachian Trail from bottom to top, he had our class write our own “This I Believe” essays. It was a difficult assignment, but it forced me to evaluate my beliefs and values, something I think is healthy for everyone to do from time to time.

A lot’s changed since then. I’m five years older, one day and two finals away from finishing my junior year of college, about to begin the job I’ve wanted since I first realized I’d be attending Arizona State and if anything, more terrified and unsure about I’m doing. It’s worth going back and quantifying those beliefs again.

I believe in horizontal loyalty. I believed in the concept long before I had a name for it, but Caitlin Cruz, who first hired me when I was a freshman, is responsible for that term. Basically, horizontal loyalty is recognizing and promoting the talents and skills of those around you.

I’ve been extremely fortunate the last few years to have worked in the newsroom of The State Press and been constantly surrounded by absolutely brilliant people. They go on to do amazing things — our online editor from this semester was accepted into the Fulbright program and will be teaching English in Taiwan, our outgoing sports editor is working a summer internship with Sports Illustrated in New York and our outgoing A&E editor is headed off to D.C. with the McCain Institute — and whether they’re here for just a semester or for years, each of these people has taught me so much. I truly believe that they are among the best and brightest people, and I would do anything in my power to help them succeed.

I believe in treating everyone with respect. Like many millennials, I learned a lot of lessons from the Harry Potter series, and one of the most important of these comes in the fourth novel, “Goblet of Fire.” Harry’s godfather, Sirius, says to him, “If you want to know what a man’s like, take a good look at how he treats his inferiors, not his equals.”

I don’t believe in using words like “inferior” or “superior” because nobody is anybody else’s “inferior” or “superior,” but I do believe you can tell a lot about a person from how he or she treats anyone who could be considered inferior because of things like material wealth, age, gender/gender identity, sexual orientation, race, ethnicity, intelligence or a whole host of other factors.

I believe in continually pushing yourself and never settling for good enough. An editor with whom I once worked created a saying, “just be better,” that sums this up pretty well. It’s still hanging in our newsroom, along with reminders that the students need their watchdog, that we are bold, risk-taking journalists and that no bad day can continue if you just look at Sam Claflin’s beautiful face.

But being better takes more than just saying it — it takes long nights and early mornings. It takes closely following competitors and peers, seeing what works well and what could use improving. It takes trying and failing and trying again; it takes asking for help when you need it and being there to help when you’re needed. Most of all, it takes hard work and real passion, and if nothing else, I believe in that.

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