Last month, the blog had its first birthday — and what a year it has been.
As I wrapped up my two-year stint as a weekly columnist and opinion editor for The Daily Northwestern, I knew the end of my undergraduate career — and at The Daily — wouldn’t be the end of my personal journey as a writer, thinker, journalist and communicator.
I had to continue. And so many of you encouraged me to create my own hub, including popular bloggers, fellow students, professors and friends near and far from the Chicago area.
So I did it. I took a shot in the dark and started this little hub with a design savvy friend, a photojournalism student, a freelance photographer and everything I ever knew about pop culture, politics, social justice, marketing and journalism.
Never in my wildest dreams did I think this site, which has been my online home for 13 months, would get the attention it has, despite not being regularly updated and me being in various states of personal transitions, real-world work responsibilities and attempting to live life without my old perfectionist streak.
With your help and support (and sharing of this site’s repository), pieces like “An Open Letter to Chet ‘Haze’ Hanks” got national attention and thousands of views on here and other blogs and news sites. That letter I just mentioned, as some of you remember, was aggregated by Gawker. It elicited a flood of thank you emails for addressing bullying and suicide head on with a heartfelt personal narrative.
For me, I was just telling my story. For some others, reading about my pain helped free them from their own.
Yet, funny enough, it was when I started telling the truth about my experiences — both in The Daily and here on this site — that I started to feel free from my own pain as well.
The most powerful words you can hear from anyone while you’re struggling is, “me too.” It helps to have someone — at least one person — who understands where you’re coming from and can truly empathize with you.
That’s all I’ve ever wanted to be through my writing. A processor for experiences, knowledge and stories to flow through my perspective of the world and learning from others — and taking that information to produce beautiful, impactful works that bridge understandings between radically different people. In essence, a quest for unity.
Although DailyDerrick.com will disband starting next Monday, Memorial Day 2013, I’ll remember so much about my journey to becoming a professional journalist and communicator.
I’ll remember being intimidated by hate mail and students ignorant about racism, often second guessing my own lived experiences and knowledge about diversity and inclusion. I’ll remember facing flack from professors who scoffed at me challenging stereotypes and reinforcements of discursive oppression during coursework and grading. I’ll remember the laughs I had in The Daily Northwestern newsroom and while working on pieces for this site.
I’ll remember the times that life got so stressful that I considered taking a long, long break from writing, never knowing when I’d return. And I’ll remember the people who gently nudged me or sent me piece pitches and said, “I’d like you to write about this topic or about something I’m working on.”
And, ultimately, I’ll remember these words that hang on my workplace cubemate’s wall: “When everything seems dark, consider… you may be the light.”
Your support has brightened my skies and my path in ways I could’ve never imagine. And it is my hope that through my future work in journalism and on DerrickClifton.com, that I’ll continue on that journey with you from May 28 onwards.
This isn’t the end of a journey — or even an end for DailyDerrick.com. It’s only a transition. The journey continues — and I hope to still see and hear from you along the way.
Here’s to a new beginning, friends.