Give Yourself Significance

In the grand scheme of things, everything lacks significance until you provide it.

Rylan Capper, DN
Rylan Capper, DN

John Lynch is a senior journalism major and writes “Fine Print” for The Daily News. His views do not necessarily reflect those of the newspaper. 

On my mother’s side of the family, we have a saying that has guided us for the last three generations: “Do it, do it best.”

Coined by my great-grandfather, that dedication to a strong work ethic has driven my family’s endeavors in our family business for 50 years.

Work ethic is everything to me and my family; when I turned twelve, I received my first work permit so I could pitch in at the machine shop we run. That work ethic has served me well in the world of journalism — which is why I was so nervous when I struggled to find the right way to write my final column.

Unfortunately, there are a finite number of things you can say about graduating from college.

That’s the trouble with being an opinion writer and editor — not only do your ideas need to be good, they have to be new. 

Readers like satisfying beginnings and endings. One of the earliest tricks I try to teach my opinion writers is to end their stories where they start them. It’s a simple but incredibly effective trick, one that I think reflects a very human need for symmetry in our experiences and stories.

But reality is not like our stories, much as our expectations would like to suggest otherwise.

More than anything else, we want our actions to have significance, no matter how small, and, in truth, writing for a college newspaper feels small. However, in relative terms, so does everything else. 

But isn’t that lonely?

Loneliness is a feeling that came to dominate my college life, creeping its way into my mind through every tool at its disposal. COVID-19, anxiety and living in a new state for college made making connections difficult, but working at The Daily News patched those holes for me.

There isn’t a professor or class in this university that has taught or given me half as much as The Daily News has, and if you’re a journalism student, get the actual value out of Ball State’s Department of Journalism by joining a student media organization. It’s a small start, but one you should value and hold tightly to, nonetheless.

Yes, it can feel small, biding your time and working for a paper like The Daily News, even in its 100th year of operation.

It can feel small completing years of your college education from the confines of your bedroom or living room, even if you pass the classes.

It can feel small living in Muncie, Indiana, while you watch your old friends move on to more interesting places and parts of their lives.

But, if anything, we give ourselves the gifts of significance in everything we do — college paper included.

The Daily News has given my college life a feeling of significance. It’s given me experience, tools for my career and plenty of stories beyond the ones I’ve shared on the page.

During my time at Ball State, I’ve written more than 80 stories for the paper, from my earliest article on David Letterman from before I even started college to this farewell column you’re reading now. I’m known to be a person who says “yes” to most things, and I think that’s evident in the way my storytelling abilities have improved and impacted the community around me.

It hasn’t always been easy — I’ve had my share of setbacks and downright nasty comments on my columns and articles — but overcoming those struggles has only made me more driven to improve and prove myself.

That feeling was tremendously important to me during the worst of the pandemic in particular. I could be dying of social isolation and drowning in self-pity over the college experience that was being taken from me by things beyond my control, but there The Daily News would be with another story to cover or deadline to meet. 

More than anything, though, The Daily News has given me a sense of place. I wouldn’t be the journalist or person I am without the people around me who shaped me. 

My social circle may have shrunk, but my colleagues and family at The Daily News were always there for me, whether we were face-to-face or miles apart. 

Success, value, the love between friends and coworkers — these are gifts we don’t know the value of until they’re gone. To a certain point, that will be missing from my life once my time at The Daily News is over in just a few short weeks.

But I know I won’t ever really be alone again, thanks to the family I’ve found here.

You’re not alone, and neither is your voice. It just needs the right people to lift it up, the way The Daily News has lifted mine.

Thank you to my amazing fellow editors, my wonderful opinion writers and everyone in my life who said I could do it if I just pushed a little harder.

Thank you, the reader, for reading. Thank you for making me feel significant, when nothing else did.

I hope my best was enough.

Contact John Lynch with comments at or on Twitter @WritesLynch.


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