Malvern is a time to expand your comfort zone

Eric McLaughlin

It can be easy to stay within your “bubble” while at Malvern, but the moments you step out of that “bubble” are when you learn the most. Trust me.

“Join as many new clubs as possible. Sign up for everything.”

Underclassmen at Malvern have heard this piece of advice year after year. I know this because I remember hearing this speech as a freshman and sophomore.

While signing up for almost every club at Malvern may have worked for some kids, I do not recommend it. As a freshman, you are worried about getting accustomed to a new school, teachers, and classmates. If you sign up for almost every club Malvern has to offer, you are not going to have the time to reflect on what really interests you. Instead, you might just choose the club that your friends are going to. If your only motivation for doing something is because all your friends are doing it, there really isn’t any point in joining the club in the first place.

My advice for the underclassmen is to pick one club or activity that is “different” for you or that might push you out of your shell. One club, that’s it.

I’m not saying that you have to fall in love with the first club you try, but at least give it a shot. Go to a few meetings and if you don’t like it, try something else. If you put yourself out there and are willing to try new things, odds are you will find something you’re passionate for.

When I came to Malvern, I had no idea what was going to be my “thing.”

In grade school my entire life revolved around sports. Whatever time of year it was, I was playing some type of sport. And when I wasn’t playing sports, I was watching them on TV.

I figured that I would continue playing multiple sports throughout my four years at Malvern. However, this would not be the case.

I decided to sign up for the newspaper because I had always been interested in sports journalism. I used to (and still occasionally do) watch SportsCenter for hours on Saturday mornings. For those who aren’t familiar with SportsCenter, the shows are one hour long and are repeated every hour. So basically, I would watch the same thing over and over again, but I was still fascinated by it. I can also remember reading the Sports Illustrated that came in the mail every week cover to cover. I was captivated by anything that had to do with sports.

Still, joining the newspaper at Malvern was definitely a step outside of my comfort zone. I had never written an article before, I had never interviewed someone, and I didn’t know anyone who was already on the staff. It was unlike anything I had done before but I figured I’d give it a shot.

I was extremely lucky that the first club that I decided to join was one that I thoroughly enjoyed. Over my four years, I have tried to make the most of opportunities that the newspaper has provided me. I have written everything from feature stories about the crew team to the security protocol on campus to editorials about fraternities in college. I have attended national conventions in Florida, New York, Seattle, and Dallas.

Most importantly, I have made friendships and bonds with other students on staff that I probably never would have if it weren’t for the newspaper. I have spent countless hours with these people trying to make deadline, editing stories, and scrambling to get last minute pictures for stories. We laugh, struggle, and celebrate together for each and every issue, bringing us closer and closer each month.

The newspaper forced me to expand my “bubble” to not only new students at Malvern but also to my understanding of how to write. It forced me to gain confidence in myself as a writer and a leader. I never envisioned myself writing thought provoking editorials and actually enjoying writing them. I never would have seen myself as the senior standing in the front of the room leading the meetings, but now, both of these things seem like second nature to me.

The point of this column is not to tell you that you need to join the newspaper. It is to tell you to try something different. Malvern has so much to offer, and you get the most out of it when you push yourself to try something new. In 20 years when I look back on my Malvern experience, I’ll remember my friends and the good times I had with them, but one of the first things I’ll remember is my time spent with the newspaper. The newspaper pushed me to grow as an individual and because of that, it is the most valuable experience I have had at Malvern.

Eric’s Stories