April 26, 2024

Hello. My name is Maggie, and I have been running Bear Talk Blog for the past two years.

I got introduced to blogging in the 4th grade. My ELA teacher, Mrs. Mueller, ran her own blog and taught us the purpose and styles of blogging. In the 5th grade, Mrs. Mueller has us start our own blogs on Kid Blog, making required posts once a week. For the month of March, our entire class had the option of participating in the Slice of Life challenge. This was a daily blogging challenge started by the Two Writing Teachers blog, which encouraged students to write every day and think more creatively and critically about little "slices" of their everyday lives. I failed to see the value in nongraded work, I didn't even attempt to finish the challenge in the 5th grade, settling for the little cookie instead of the pizza slice for a prize. By the 6th grade, my last year with Mrs. Mueller, I made it my mission to post for all 31 days. Less so from any motivation to become a better writer and more so because my friend Lauren had done it, and I wanted to "beat" her by doing it, too. Through a couple of wifi outages and a spring break trip to Florida, I was able to fight through one whole month of blogs. These slices of 6th grade included anywhere from an overview of the social studies project I was working on to my experience in speech therapy to work through the lisp and stutter I had as a child.

After I moved on from Columbia Intermediate School, my blogging habits plummeted to being non-existent. I had less time for anything that was not purely school-related or one of the many sports my parents encouraged me to play. Moving on from Mrs. Mueller meant that my assignments were now essays and assigned readings rather than blogging and a classroom full of books to choose from. 

Throughout high school, I did not even consider blogging on my own time to be an option and chose to focus on extracurricular activities that I deemed helpful for getting into college. I fell into the cycle of unfulfilling activities and academic stress, living by my motto, "It will all be better once I get to college." By the time I got to college, I was more burnt out than I had ever been.

I spent the majority of my first semester just getting used to college. I went to classes, joined some clubs, and just got used to living 2,000 miles away from home. It was in the sorority I joined that I met Alyssa.

Alyssa, a junior two years older than me, was the Vice President of New Member Education. She introduced new members to the chapter. In her introduction, she mentioned that she was a tour guide, and we could usually spot her giving a tour around campus. 

Come December, when the application for becoming a tour guide, or campus ambassadors as we are officially called, was posted in our Slack channel, Alyssa made sure to encourage us to reach out if we wanted to apply.

Immediately, I texted her, wanting to fill the shoes she would eventually leave behind one day. After a couple of miscommunication texts regarding which Yali's we were supposed to meet at, Alyssa sat with me for over an hour as we edited my essays and talked through potential video ideas. On our way back up to the sorority house for dinner, we ran into another tour guide and Alyssa's friend, Bridget. Alyssa explained to me that if I were to be hired, Bridget would have a hand in training me, but her main focus over the year was running the student blog, Bear Talk Blog.

This was the first time I had thought about blogging in almost six years. I was confused about the correlation between giving tours to admitted students and writing blog posts, but I pushed that question off for a later day.

In January, it ended up being Bridget, who gave me the call to tell me I got the job.

It was also Bridget who helped me with my leadership team application within campus ambassadors at the end of the spring semester.

When school started back up in the fall, Bridget had decided to step down, and my boss was looking for someone to take over the blog.

Still having my previous question unanswered, I asked if I could take it on. As I was unopposed in wanting the task, Bear Talk Blog became my domain after just a 40-minute meeting.

I was now past what felt like a whirlwind of a first year and approaching my sophomore year in a role I was barely qualified for and with an assignment I knew little about.

My tasks were basic: recruit writers, train writers, schedule posts, approve titles, edit blogs (if needed), and post regularly. My first semester started well; I recruited a record high of writers, redesigned the training process, and streamlined scheduling/topic approval. 

However, when I went to upload my very first post, I learned I had been blocked administratively from posting. To sum up a long 4 months, it took over 50 emails and 4 different administrators before I was finally able to post. It also took four months, and the entire Fall 2022 semester had come and gone.

When I came back to Berkeley in January, I was ready to throw in the towel on Bear Talk Blog. I had taken on the responsibility on a whim and was still feeling unfulfilled and unproductive. Giving tours had filled that gap for a while, but between the blog, school, and other extracurriculars, I had little time for anything else. I was starting to feel back when I was in high school, overworked and focusing on ventures I thought could help me get into grad school.

Going into my 4th semester, I decided I was going to pull myself out of the funk that consumed me in high school—there was no school or program worth not enjoying my time at Berkeley to the fullest. 

This de-funking included how I thought out Bear Talk Blog. I reflected on my time blogging in middle school and how the laborious, required blogging still created some of the best memories. Sitting in Mrs. Mueller's classroom, we traded stories and ideas for blog posts. We texted each other reminders on weekends to post and would comment inside jokes on each other's blogs. There was something so juvenile and exciting about these memories I was only able to see after many years.

I channeled this passion into the upcoming semester. I advocated for my blog, worked through the reformatting, and helped get it moved to our main visitor website. I no longer found the every-other-day posting annoying; I viewed it as a way to connect with all those who want to learn about Berkeley but can't take a tour. The blog was no longer a means to an end but a path forward for my writers and new students coming into Berkeley. It served a greater purpose than a bullet point on a resume.

Throughout my final year, I got to brag about Bear Talk Blog on my master's school application, and it helped me get an internship for the summer. However, it was different from any of the previous experiences I had; this was something I was genuinely proud of, not something I just said I was proud of in an interview to sound better.

Now, I am 2 weeks away from graduation, getting ready to start that summer internship and then go off to graduate school, and I would not be where I am today without blogging.

To be honest, I'm not too sure what the point of this post is. My boss asked me if this would be some big coming-out-from-behind-the-curtain moment, and I don't think it is. It is the first time I have officially blogged since I was 11, so there must be something to be said there. But I think this post serves more as a reflection and a guideline as a path forward.

I was able to discover genuine joy in what was reminiscent of my 5th-grade homework. Not everything I do needs to be a resume builder, and not all resume bullet points need to be a means to an end. 

As I head off to graduate school in the fall, I want to take my story of blogging. While the likelihood of me blogging again after this is low, I can still value the lessons I learned. I want to be mindful of the time I dedicate to school and my career while still taking time for mere pleasure. I want to learn to find that joy in both the little things and the unexpected. Most importantly, I want to put myself first.

Signing off, 

Maggie D.