HUGHES: Being easily affected by everything begets empathy

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HUGHES: Being easily affected by everything begets empathy

Morgan with the 2016-17 opinion editor and assistant editor, Elizabeth Baker and Mike Cummings.

Morgan with the 2016-17 opinion editor and assistant editor, Elizabeth Baker and Mike Cummings.

Morgan with the 2016-17 opinion editor and assistant editor, Elizabeth Baker and Mike Cummings.

Morgan with the 2016-17 opinion editor and assistant editor, Elizabeth Baker and Mike Cummings.

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I am trying not to be wistful. I want to offer this perspective in the same way I always strive to, with sensitive, fragile urgency. It’s harder to strike that balance when the perspective is about my own failings and my own growth.

This being my final communique from the opinions desk of the Marquette Wire, it feels proper to reflect on my years as a contributor and as an editor.

I have never been demure. I don’t have the capacity to purse my lips and sit with fury. I’m terrible at giving the silent treatment. I am so constantly affected by things.

This has manifested in perhaps poorly-adjusted emotional responses to everything from flagrant disrespect to subtle inconveniences. (It also makes it difficult to date, but I think that’s beside the point.)

I mention this because my temperament is less even-keeled than a journalist’s is traditionally required to be, but it has also afforded me a special perspective.

I have always been called touchy, thin-skinned and confrontational. My inability to temper myself has been an enduring presence throughout my life.

People tend to be confused when witnessing outbursts of unexpected emotion, and so I have spent a prodigious amount of time defending myself against, and apologizing for the confusion I create.

These pages have given me an opportunity to own my stormy, boisterous nature, and to channel it. That privilege is not lost on me. I no longer feel shame for my proclivities. I see them as strengths, as special qualifications. But I also feel personally responsible for appreciating how others are affected by things as well, because I know how frustrating it is to be constantly misunderstood.

It would be a lie to say my time on these pages has not been about self-discovery. Joan Didion once wrote, “All writing is an attempt to find out what matters.” The best way I have learned to do this is by asking why.

The most valuable insight I can offer is to grow into the whys. Our perspectives should be more asking than telling, more learning than explaining. More than anything, this job is about empathy. If you have followed my work over the past years, I hope that has been the prevailing tone.

Empathy begets understanding, understanding begets fairness and a fair opinion is a less refutable one. This is important.

People will always treat opinions like dismissables. Like a la carte insights. I have tried to come to the pages as a reporter first, and a writer second. Facts matter, empathy matters and the facts mean little without the perspective of those affected by them.

I have also learned that it is dangerous to assign value to information, but that is what makes these pages so important. If I have written one column or one editorial that has made somebody feel validated in their own concern, I am proud of that.

I hope these pages have provided more explanation than scolding. More humility than preaching. Hopefully, they have encouraged empathy. If they have not, I have let you down.

I’m grateful that Marquette’s student media has given me the platform to be a nasty, loud, emotional, inconsolable woman, strong in my multitudes and intrepid in my principles. I hope it continues to uplift voices of students otherwise told to feel ashamed of their innate responses to the world.

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