I was reeling from a grave crisis when I wrote the first version of this letter. I seemed to think writing 600 words about how I had reserved a room for the Observer’s staff retreat for the wrong day was a good idea. I lamented how disastrous the oversight was, how I had nowhere to host our staff of 50 for an afternoon of journalistic discussion, and that I was scared to ruin an organization that feels sacred to me.
Why had I cared so much about where our retreat would be? I was anxious. I was irate. I was rude to my boyfriend for an hour. I ghosted my friends for two hours. I marched around my kitchen and loudly emptied the dishwasher. I sulked. I dramatized (ongoing). Then, I cried a little bit, and moved on.
The next morning, as I reread what I had written, I felt ridiculous. And yet I have still decided that this scheduling snafu matters enough for me to write about, again. I acknowledge my irrationality in a situation that was objectively no big deal. However, I am also proud of my reaction in a revisionist sort of way. I love the Observer, and I suddenly feel so responsible for this magazine.
In my mind, I had deduced that because we did not have a room for our retreat, our articles would fall apart for the entire semester, we would lose sight of our core values, and there would be no way to avoid some impending scandal that would be all my fault. I was scared to let down Lena, my predecessor; Myisha, our managing editor; Abigail, our creative director; and our entire team in one blow.
But in my deeply manic state, I had forgotten a few things. First of all, not a single one of our value-driven, truth-seeking, compassionate staff members would let me do that. Second, this was a small problem easily amenable to a variety of solutions. I was stuck in a hole in which I was so nervous to mess up that I lost sight of the Observer’s resilience, our community, and the innate nature of our shared values. It is far too important—to us, to our readers, and to our community—to let any one person think they can ruin the Observer with a simple scheduling mistake. So, I would like to use this letter to announce that I am no longer stuck in that hole.
Lena, I cannot imagine how you came into this role with no experience on managing board, and did not fall into this trap. I cannot believe I would (occasionally) ghost you for hours during crises, and you would still text me back a meme when I finally responded. And you’ve somehow become one of my closest friends, ever. You poured your energy into making me understand that this magazine was mine, just as it was everyone’s on staff. To Myisha, Abigail, and every single individual who is a part of the Observer now, I promise to make this magazine yours, too. Our strength is that the Observer is ours together.
To you, the reader, I hope you can feel that the Observer is full of people who care about it just as much as I do. Our pages, podcasts, and projects are the product of all of us.