Letting go of the past: how former Sidekick editors have influenced me


Meara Isenberg

Former Sidekick Editor-in-Chief Meara Isenberg and current Sidekick C0-Student Life Editor Farah Merchant hold up the 2017 NSPA Online Pacemaker Award given to Coppell Student Media in the spring convention in Seattle. This was Coppell Student Media’s first Pacemaker award. Isenberg was a mentor for Merchant during her second year on staff.

Farah Merchant, Student Life Editor

I have always lived with the fear of failure. It has hindered me my entire life.

This all consuming phenomenon has stopped me from pursuing my passions. My fear of failure started as a child. When I was young, I saw it as logical. I was someone who was mature enough to realize that my ambitious were dreams and would likely remain as such.

However, as I grew older this fear stopped me from engaging in activities I enjoyed. Sophomore year, I took creative writing off my course selection, too afraid to hear the words: “You’ll never make it as a writer.” I replaced creative writing with journalism thinking it would be a way to write without my self-destructive tendencies getting in the way.

That quickly changed when I fell in love with journalism. I was back to square one.

However, though the fear persisted and still persists, I do not let it hinder me due to the influence of my past leaders.

My love for journalism developed under the leadership of former 2015-16 Sidekick editor Rachel Buigas-Lopez. Having a strong editor-in-chief guided my work ethic and drove me to expand my horizons and learn page design. Under her, I became a well-rounded individual.

From Buigas-Lopez, I saw the leader I wanted to become – one who did not just delegate but set an example for the rest to follow.

Last year’s editor-in-chief Meara Isenberg and news editor Sakshi Venkatraman were two other influencers along my journalism path. Both have contradictory personalities. Sakshi is fire, pushing you to your limits, and Meara is ice, making sure you are cool and comfortable with your surroundings.

My second year as a staff member, I predominately wrote for news and covered multiple events with both of them. My first coverage with them and my first news story ever, was early voting. Sakshi made me interview person after person until I stopped stuttering and came up with decent follow-up questions. She made me interview at least seven sources and only used three of them in the story. Her reason was I needed the practice.

Meara, on the other hand, was sweet. She helped me come up with questions and pulled me aside to give me a pep talk. When I stumbled on what to ask next, she jumped in, directing the conversation.

The two juxtaposing personalities appeared in all journalism functions, and in the end they both helped me in the best way. Meara helped me become comfortable in awkward and spartan conditions, and Sakshi helped me embrace the uncomfortable.

They both pushed me to my limits and helped me become a better journalist. My existing fear of failure pushed me to not disappoint Sakshi, and the caring personality exhibited by Meara pushed me to reciprocate with  by writing my best.

Not only did they influence me as a journalist, but they helped me embrace my love for journalism.

When fearful of whether I could make it as a journalist, they sat down with me and talked me through my problems. They opened my eyes to the two possibilities: failing at something you love or succeeding at something you are indifferent to.

Facing my fear has opened up the door to pursue journalism. Though I am not planning on majoring in it, I will be involved in the Daily Texan, the school newspaper for the University of Texas at Austin.

These past influences guided me to make my decision. Now, I can proudly say if I fail, I will not be defeated. I will stand up and try again, even if it is with a bruised ego.