Until the cafe kicks us out: A dedication to people

As someone who has chosen to pursue a career based on words, I struggle to figure out what to say. This is my last article for the Daily Free Press, and I feel like I’ve said everything I’ve wanted to say throughout my four years. I’ve talked about songs I’ve loved, analyzed life’s universal questions, given mediocre advice and more.

So, what do I write for my last hurrah? What do I write for a paper and section that’s meant the world to me and, frankly, changed my life?

Chloe Patel | Senior Graphic Artist

As I’ve tried sorting through my disorganized thoughts these last few weeks, my love for people has only made sense to me. It’s the only constant I’ve ever had in my life. It dominates who I keep in my close circle, how I interact with sources, what drives me personally and professionally and how I look at my life.

Journalism is for the public. It’s never been — and never should be — about me. Except maybe this article. This one’s for me.

My passion for journalism is because of my love for people.

Throughout my 22 years, I’ve been fortunate to know and love spectacular people. My family, childhood friends, my best friend (who I’ve known since pre-school), the handful of friends I met in middle and high school who I still keep in touch with and the wonderful people I’ve met in college. They are all blessings.

There’s just no way I got this lucky. How is that possible?

The benefits of knowing such amazing — and different — people are getting to learn from them. Hearing them talk, observing how they interact with others, and how they handle whatever life throws at them. The only word that comes to mind is beautiful.

Grabbing a coffee with a friend and talking about their weekend is beautiful. Waiting for class and talking with classmates about their slight annoyances about an assignment is beautiful. Chatting over mundane things in mundane places is beautiful.

There is a phrase I’ve lived by since high school. I’m not sure where I found it or if I made it up myself. It’s drifted in and out of my daily thoughts and vocabulary, but I’ve been returning to it lately.

Inspire and be inspired.

How I apply those four words to my life looks different now than five years ago, but its core reflects how much I’ve always loved people.

What a privilege it is to know others, to love others, and to be loved by others.

I’ve learned so many things from listening to other people. For example, in how they phrase things, I get a second inside their brain and thinking processes. The most fulfilling and refreshing moments in my life have all come from conversing with people. Whether it’s with my journalism friends as we talk about something industry related, with my three roommates who are graphic design and business majors, or with people I’ve known for over a decade.

It doesn’t matter how similar or different we are. I come out of every conversation feeling like I learned something new.

My sophomore-year English teacher in high school drilled another phrase into my brain: the human condition never changes. While she meant for it to apply to literature analysis, it can be adapted to our relationships with people. We all have feelings, thoughts, and things we’re passionate about. We’re all the same to the core.

A friend once told me that I had a way of connecting with people and asked how I did it. I was extremely flattered, but I didn’t have an answer for her. I thought about it more, and the answer I’ve come to years later is simple. It’s the pure, untarnished love I have for humans.

Everyone has something to say. Some people just may not know how to exactly say it. If you give them the time, vulnerability, and space to let them express themselves, they will say something incredibly worthwhile. Give them your ear and empathy, and they’ll keep talking until the cafe workers gently urge you to leave because they’re about to close.

They will feel loved. And isn’t that what life is all about anyway?

I’ll end my time at the paper with this. People are incredible and worthy of our love. To all the people in my life who I’ve loved and who have let me into their conversations, this is my love letter to you.

Whether at the FreeP office with my feet up on the table, over voice memos and hour-long FaceTime calls, at 3:24 a.m. in hushed whispers and laughter, or in my car driving around my hometown or at Sunday tap dance rehearsals, the memories and conversations I hold in my heart with fellow human beings will always soar above anything else.

No words will ever be enough to describe how honored and lucky I feel to know you and to love you. Here’s to more conversations until the cafe kicks us out.

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