Editor's Note: Goodbye Nouse, and thank you


Deputy Editor Patrick Hook-Willers bows out of Nouse after four years with a moment of reflection

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Image by Patrick Hook-Willers

By Patrick Hook-Willers

Moving on is never easy. Whether it be from a relationship, from your old school, or from university – saying goodbye to what we love is one of the toughest things that we have to do. It's easy to sit and dwell on everything that you’ll never do again or on the things that you wish you had done. I am guilty of this as much as anyone on the planet. Even one hint of nostalgia and I am doomed to spend the following twenty minutes staring into space, imagining myself back in a time where all the things I came to love at university are still in full swing and everything wasn’t so terrifyingly uncertain.

I’d always wanted to try and be a journalist but had never had any sort of belief in my ability to really achieve anything. Before uni, I had cripplingly low self-esteem and zero belief in what I was capable of after spending my gap year working a terrible job and genuinely hating getting up in the mornings. Then when I had finally made it to York four years ago, I wrote my first ever proper article.

By the time I arrived in York, I’d only written for my failed school paper and had a few little bits published on random football websites, but I had never done anything that I could physically see, hold in my hand, and be proud of. At the time, it was surprising to me that somebody actually wanted to publish something that I had written, and seeing my name for the first time printed on a (FULL-PAGE) Film & TV piece was a feeling that I can’t really describe.

That first piece meant so much to me that I brought several copies back home for my housemates, who had known me for only four weeks to read, placing copies of Nouse and MUSE all over our kitchen table so that I could share this rare moment of self-worth. Up until our last printed edition of this year, I still brought home copies after every release for my housemates to read, as a way of reminding myself how good it felt to finally believe in myself after so long, even though I’m sure they never actually read them. I did it to remind myself again and again the way I felt that first time I started to believe. It's only a small act, but each time I brought home a new edition I was reminded of that feeling, and felt reassured that trusting myself was working and that I should never stop.

That first feeling didn’t solve everything immediately of course, as throughout my time in York there have been moments where the self-doubt has returned and has screwed up my judgement. When I lost the election for the role of Editor in June 2019 after an incredible year in Sport, the self-doubt in my ability returned so quickly and with such force that I crumbled, and immediately decided that the best thing to do to protect myself from the horrible feelings of failure I had once called normality coming back, was to not even try for any other position. It felt like the world was falling in on me in front of everyone in the room and I couldn’t take it happening again, so I bailed. After all, if you don’t try, you can’t fail right?

This is true to an extent, but only if you want to close yourself off from the wonderful possibilities that life can offer if you stop being afraid of failure and reflect on the good things you do after letting go of that fear. If I had given in to my own self-doubt and decided to play it safe, I wouldn’t have come back to uni after dropping out, and I would have missed out on so much – all because I was scared to fail.

I wouldn’t have had my life enriched by so many of the amazing people I’ve worked with while at Nouse. I would never have met Malu, the pocket sized Brazilian whose talent and perspective of the world is unlike anyone’s I’ve ever met. I would never have met George, my sporting partner with who I commentated live on the Roses Opening Ceremony to something crazy like 15,000 viewers and won Sport Journalist of the Year. I would never have met Jonny and formed one of the most precious friendships I’ve ever had with one of the most brilliant men I’ve ever known, and we would never have had the privilege to lead Nouse together and reach the heights reached this year. I would never have met Alex, or Matt, or Saskia, or Joe, or Andy, or James, or Luke…. The list of brilliant people who have enriched my life is endless because of this newspaper.

Whenever you reach a divergence at the end of a road, there is no use in regretting all the side-streets you never took, because your journey looks the way it does for a reason. It may sound ‘hippie’ to say that things work out the way they are meant to, but I believe that it’s true. Nouse has taught me that once you stop being afraid of failing, the things that will bring you love, joy, happiness, and success WILL fall into place, while the things and people that bring you down will fall into irrelevance. Whether you’re in the same boat as me and are leaving uni for good, or you’re still early on in your York adventure, take every step forward from here fearlessly.

Of course, once things fall into place and you find your feet, they won’t last forever. It is so important that you reflect on things once they are over, and as this note comes to an end, ending with it my time as Deputy Editor and four years as a Nouse member, I’m reflecting on the invaluable lessons, experiences and friendships that this society has given me.

Without this society, I would probably still be riddled with anxiety and fear of the unknown. With this society in my life though, I have learned so much about who I am and what I want to be, and that I can take my next steps free of the fear of failure. If it works out, great. If it doesn’t, fine. I’m no longer scared to find another path.

For four years this society has been changing me and my life for the better, so much so that I am near unrecognisable to the scared, sad, angry young man that I was back then. I owe this paper everything, and I will miss it and the wonderful people that make it with all my heart.