My Last Column for the Review


Senior Elliot Cheung became a columnist for The Review after writing a column asking current Editor-in-Chief Lydia Liu to prom.

As my time at St. John’s draws to a close, I feel the need to write something that reflects on some aspect of my SJS experience. What better subject to write on than my experience with writing?

I never thought of myself as a writer. To be honest, I joined the Review staff my sophomore year almost entirely as a way to boost my college résumé. I didn’t have any strong inclinations towards journalism or writing in general. I just wanted one more extracurricular activity that might help me get into an Ivy League college. Plus, I thought, how bad could writing high school news be?

I hated it. Each month I dreaded getting my assignment. Having to choose people to interview, learn the proper formatting, fact check my articles — it all seemed like such a hassle that I didn’t want to make time for. So each month, I would begrudgingly piece together another sloppy news article and send it in, usually a few days late just for good measure.

I later realized the real reason I hated working for The Review. Back then, I chose not to care about my work for the paper. I just threw together whatever I could to keep the editors off my back. I didn’t actively pursue interviews or take any time to think about my articles before deadlines approached. I did the bare minimum at the last possible minute because I never actually committed myself to my work. And because I chose not to care, not to put any effort in, I had a miserable experience at first. Instead of feeling like a job to be proud of, writing articles felt like a chore.

I never really did get around my animosity towards writing news. It got better when I started caring about producing quality pieces, but I think the initial setback  turned me away from news. I still wrote a few news articles when I needed to, but as this article probably shows, my true calling lay in columns.

I became a columnist by accident. I wrote my first column solely because I thought one of my editors was cute and thought a clever way to ask her to prom would be to write a column about how hard it is to come up with ideas to ask girls to prom. It worked well. But apart from getting me a prom date, it showed me that I could write columns.

I found that I liked the freedom of style that columns allowed for that news simply could not. Columns let me write in a much more casual context, letting me be more relaxed with colloquial language and sarcastic comments. I’d practiced writing more casually like this before with a few movie reviews here and there, and far more so with the snarky vocabulary quizzes I’d written for Dr. Raulston all year. I had developed a style of writing that I enjoyed much more than formal papers or news articles. And so I kept on column-ing.

Working for the Review became something I wanted to do, not something I did for my résumé. I wanted to create quality pieces. Because I liked the style of columns more than that of news, I found that I could invest myself in them, and I had a much more positive experience as a columnist than I did writing news. I liked writing, which was weird to me at first because, again, I never thought of myself as a writer of any sort.  But here I am, all because I went a bit outside of my comfort zone to ask my editor to prom.

Finally, the positive feedback I’ve received for my articles have been a tremendous and well-needed confidence boost for me. Self-esteem has never come easy to me, but every time anyone mentioned that they liked one of my columns, whether or not it was a genuine compliment, it built my confidence up just a little bit. I went through some times when my confidence and self-esteem dropped to an all-time low, but you guys as a readership helped me out enormously. A colossal, brobdingnagian thanks goes out to all of you who have read my articles and given me feedback over the last few years. It’s been a blast.

Elliot Cheung

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