An Organized Mess

A love-hate relationship with journalism

McKenna Dirks

More stories from McKenna Dirks

3rd and Vine
April 5, 2022

College is weird. But if I decided to never attend college, I wouldn’t be doing what I’m doing today. 

When I came to UW-Eau Claire as a first-year, I was a business economics student. After my first calculus class, I quickly realized I can’t do math without destroying my brain. I was using time in other classes just to finish my assignments. 

Math isn’t for everyone, but some people are exceptionally good at it. I have nothing against it, I’m just not good at it. 

Second semester of my first year, I decided to switch my field of study to journalism. This was my original plan prior to attending college, but my nutty economics teacher in high school convinced me economics was fun. 

To nobody’s surprise: it’s not. 

I’ve been writing since I can remember. Even when the really old Microsoft computers existed, I was always in a Word document writing about whatever I could think of. I once wrote a book called “All about me,” and my parents thought it was brilliant coming from my six year old mind. 

Newspapers fascinate me. I love having the physical paper in my hands, I love words. I love the aesthetic of sitting in a comfortable coffee shop, researching and typing up a story while sipping a hot coffee. I’m all about those vibes. 

So obviously journalism was for me — for now. 

I remained a journalism student for about a year, until my parents convinced me that business would be a better fit in the long-run. 

All I’m going to say is those with journalism degrees may not make a lot of money, but at least they didn’t get a bachelor’s in business. 

I was a business management student for about a semester, taking every business class one could think of: accounting, business writing, information systems … you name it, I was probably taking it. 

During all of this switching between fields of study, I was still on The Spectator staff, but being a business management student wasn’t sitting well with me. So, I added a journalism minor. 

Then eventually I decided once and for all I was sticking with my original plan of journalism. Business is gross, sorry not sorry. 

Until fall 2021, I mostly hated journalism. I couldn’t get into it, I had others telling me I was a bad writer and I’d never make a living wage outside of college. Those people were wrong. 

Professors undermined my journalism skills for years because of how much I worked outside of school. I gave a lot of my time to my job at Kwik Trip and wasn’t giving much to my education. 

When I decided my education was more important than any paycheck I’ll ever receive, it was fall semester of 2021 and I was losing time quickly. I put everything into my advanced reporting class, and it was one of the most challenging classes I’ve ever had. 

But despite the challenges, the mental breakdowns and the thoughts of failure, I proved to myself that I am a good writer and other people noticed. I had rediscovered my love for journalism. 

As I’m finishing my last semester of college, I notice I get adrenaline rushes when I’m researching for my stories, writing them and editing others. I’m always excited to write and some would say I geek over it. 

After having a long identity crisis, I finally realized that journalism is for me and it’s what I’m meant to do. Not math, not science. Writing. 

I’m beyond thankful for the seven semesters I’ve been on The Spectator staff, and I’m proud to be this semester’s Editor-In-Chief. After all, my first Editor-In-Chief told me she could see me being in charge one day. 

Dirks can be reached at [email protected]