Image Credit: Matthew King
I think we can all admit that during this past year we have been living in the past. I for one have spent the last nine months endlessly scrolling through memories and photo albums, trying to in some way live in the shoes of my former, non-Covid self. What all this looking back has resulted in is made me think about beginnings, and how we should see them.
Not to make this into a pity-party, but for me, beginnings are not too positive. When I look back at who I was before coming to university I don’t like what I see - both physically and mentally. I even have a folder on my phone labelled ‘motivation’, which is filled with pictures of me from my school years for whenever I feel bad about myself currently. You add this to the crippling anxiety and me being closeted, I think we get the picture that my ‘beginning’ in life wasn’t so smooth.
However, this is much the same with a lot of things. I don’t think it is necessarily a bad thing to recognise that our origins are shit - if any of you have watched X-Men Origins: Wolverine, I think you will understand how awful they can be.
Even though I am now Editor, when I look back at my origin in Nouse, I look back in embarrassment. My first article emphasises this. I wanted to make an impression, and I certainly did that. My first piece was a 700-word comment article/rant on how I was dissatisfied with First Bus. In its very composition it was entitled, hyperbolic and terribly written. Exposing myself further, I recall calling the bus drivers ‘tyrannical dictators’ in its first draft. For all of you interested, this is the link to the piece: https://nouse.co.uk/2018/10/30/first-go-fix-your-bad-service.
I thought that this overly-stylised, satirical style of writing was groundbreaking, and looking back on it I understand that it just wasn’t right. I also think of how I acted socially in Nouse and how I didn’t really get involved in the social side until I had been in the paper for 6 months. Prior to this, I remember going to the Nouse Christmas social. I was so anxious and scared to simply eat at a table with other humans that I had a full panic attack and almost stopped myself from going. Again, looking back on this ‘beginning’ is not a fun experience.
Despite this, what I have learnt is how profitable it is to look back on these beginning moments by looking at them in conjunction with how I am now. There was one point in my life where I was so anxious that I would only ever wear black t-shirts with pictures of American cities on them (I am not exaggerating here, anything else made me panic). Looking back on this solely fills me with dread and embarrassment. However, looking back on this in comparison to how I dress now fills me with a little bit of pride. Similarly, to return to my earlier analogy, despite understanding how awful X-Men Origins: Wolverine was, I think we can all agree that Logan was fantastic - and looked all the better for having that earlier film preceding it.
I think this is how we should all look back at the perhaps shitty or embarrassing ‘beginnings’ we all had. Don’t look at these moments in isolation – look at them with sight of how you have developed and improved, because we all grow and we should be proud of how we have grown. Despite how awful that first article of mine was, I still keep it on the wall near my desk so that I can look at it every so often (see picture). Keeping something I hate so close to me helps me in seeing my development, and I try to do the same with the other embarrassing and shit moments in my origins.
In light of this, and because I don’t want this to all be about me (I’m only a little vain I promise), I have asked some of the Nouse team to share their ‘beginnings’ in Nouse and how they have developed beyond them.
Lucy Cooper (Current Comment Editor):https://nouse.co.uk/2019/11/19/editors-review-ranking-every-mince-pie-in-tesco
I started in Nouse as a nervous Food and Drink Editor, with a desperation to please the more experienced members of the team. I wrote a mince pie review, where I had to buy 5 different packs of them from Tesco all at once. Since then, I’ve seen myself become more confident in tackling issues that I wouldn’t have dared to just a year ago. I’ve stepped out of my comfort zone of light-hearted food articles (although they still make an appearance) and I’ve seen myself write about things that I either didn’t know anything about before - like scientific research from York - or things that truly resonate with me deeper than mincemeat and pastry could ever, like my recent article on the problems of National Coming Out day. I’m lucky we have this platform. Oh, and I’m no longer scared of those experienced members of the team.
Barney Andrews (Current Business Editor):https://nouse.co.uk/2020/02/26/dominic-cummings-and-his-rise-to-no-10
My first article was entitled “Dominic Cummings and his rise to No. 10” (topical as always) for the Politics section. I have always been interested in politics but had no idea where to start with the structure of the article. After being elected as Deputy Politics Editor last July I really enjoyed my time working with Ed Halford and, then section editor, James Abbott who challenged me politically and were always supportive when I introduced an article idea. Having taken on the challenge of becoming the Business Editor, my connection with Nouse has grown ever-stronger and I continue to enjoy working with such a great group of students and having the freedom to project my ideas on paper… I just hope our next social can be after my first time laying up in the Nouse office!
Annabel Mulliner (Current Deputy Editor):https://nouse.co.uk/2019/03/05/the-true-cost-of-sustainable-fashion
The first thing I wrote for Nouse was a fashion piece covering the lessons I learned about fast fashion in Andrew Morgan’s documentary The True Cost. When I wrote that piece, I wasn’t yet an editor and it would be another six months until I joined the team as Food and Drink Editor. As my confidence grew, I branched out beyond recipes and fashion, and now I’ve written for nearly every section of the paper. Every writer should try and break out of their comfort zone and write something completely different - you might find yourself loving it.
Kirsten Murray (Current Deputy Features Editor):https://nouse.co.uk/2018/10/30/findings-of-a-fresher-30-10-18
Rereading this article, I felt like I wrote it in a different lifetime! I was a baby fresher and keen to be involved in Nouse, I jumped at the chance to write for the Fresher’s Column during my first year. I reflected on what I had learnt in my first few weeks of university and adulting: memories of meeting my flatmates for the first time, signing up to many random societies, nights out and of course the dreaded Freshers’ Flu! It seems so surreal to read about university life pre-pandemic, I think we would all kill for Salt and Pepper’s cheesy chips and gravy after a long night in Salvos!
Ed Halford (Current Politics Editor):https://nouse.co.uk/2020/04/20/biden-emerges-as-the-all-but-certain-democratic-nominee-for-president
In my first article for Nouse, I gave my thoughts on the political implications of Biden gaining the Democratic Presidential nomination. Now as Politics Editor, I always try to upload the work of those that aren’t on the committee as quickly as possible as I can relate to the feeling of impatient excitement that comes with producing an article and then seeing it uploaded online. In terms of progress from my first article, I would say that I’ve learnt how to more subtly put forward a point of view without forcing it onto the reader. Throughout this second lockdown, I’ve found that writing for Nouse can provide you with a ‘channel’ from which to escape the increasing frustrations of having no social contact with others and has provided me with a much appreciated distraction from the monotony of Zoom calls and breakout rooms.
Jenna Luxon (Current MUSE Editor):https://nouse.co.uk/2019/01/29/old-favourites-breakfast-at-tiffanys
My first article for Nouse was a book review of Breakfast at Tiffany's and it's still one of my favourite articles I've written for the paper. Writing that piece nearly two years ago took me days as I went through draft after draft whereas now I could easily write a book review in an hour and feel just as proud of my work.
Emily Harvie (Current Deputy MUSE Editor):https://nouse.co.uk/2020/02/12/when-coming-of-age-grows-up
My first article for Nouse was called ‘When Coming of Age Grows Up’. I was part of the Film and TV team at the time and had grown up obsessed with 80s teen films, especially by John Hughes so I knew I had to write about the evolution of the ‘coming of age’ film as my first article. I joined Nouse in my second year so it really doesn’t feel very long ago and I’m still glad it was my first piece. It’s quite nice to go back and reread it now a year later.
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Joseph Higgins (Current News Editor):https://nouse.co.uk/2018/10/30/black-ops-4-is-the-stim-shot-we-need
My first article was a half-baked analysis of online viewership trends in relation to the latest Call of Duty game at the time. It's full of self important and overly complex language and sentences for the sake of compensating, to feel as though I deserved to be involved in the paper. Looking back on it I can't help but cringe, but also be immensely proud of the fact my analysis and reporting is more detailed and more concise without the need to overcompensate. I've come a very long way as my interests and skills have evolved and those old articles serve as the proof of that.
Michael Athey (Current Deputy Music Editor):https://nouse.co.uk/2020/05/26/newcastle-united-takeover-is-far-from-black-and-white
Rereading my first article did put a smile on my face despite it discussing what at times is the bane of my life, Newcastle United. Sure there’s a few cringe-inducing mistakes – which I won’t highlight here in the blind hope you missed them – but overall, I am chuffed at the nuance I conveyed on an issue close to my heart. However, what pleases me most is it taught me I can do this. I had wanted to write for the paper since coming to uni but kept convincing myself not to. In what has been a horribly gloomy year, knowing that I made the leap and have only continued to progress since then, does make it shine a tad brighter. Although, I am worried I’ve peaked too early with headlines, because that one is a corker if I may say so myself.
Alice Manning (Current Features Editor):https://nouse.co.uk/2019/11/19/live-review-marina--o2-apollo-manchester
Striving to conquer my unfounded nerves about getting involved in student journalism, I made my first venture into Nouse early in my second year with a live music review (those were the days!). Being the huge Marina fan that I am, a review of her Love + Fear tour seemed a good place to start. And as cheesy as it sounds, my love of writing was born out of fear. At the time, I was so worried that I wouldn’t be able to pull it off – and genuinely shocked when it was accepted for print. That article certainly wasn’t my best piece of journalism, but it proved to me that I could do it.
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