Keeping up with Kincaid: so… what’s next?


Laken Kincaid

Editor-in-Chief, Laken Kincaid, reflects on their thoughts from the past week.

Laken Kincaid, Editor-in-Chief

Writing this column is bittersweet to say the least.

When I logged onto The Carroll News site last week to conduct my trivial, daily tasks including archiving old stories in our database or checking the various analytics for each article, I noticed my last Keeping up with Kincaid was published without a hitch. Yet, because managing the editors requires some semblance of detail oriented work, I realized that I was actually in fact no longer in charge of managing said editors. I was taken aback to see the title change in print.

“Laken Kincaid, Editor-in-Chief” was in a byline for the first time.

It felt weird to see, almost like something I had to correct via a silly little Google Doc suggestion. Although my initial urge was to go into the back end of our website and change the designation immediately, I eventually came to terms with it. It actually took a bit of introspection and a lot of reflection. Even typing this now, I feel hesitant to outline this promotion in print.

It’s not because I do not want the job. This is an absolute dream come true; it is an aspiration I have had since I originally emailed Sophia Maltese ‘21 in the summer of 2020 saying “what can I do to get Meet the Press?” She shuffled me to the campus section and I grew from there. Candidly, I feel like it is every student journalist’s hope to eventually have some sort of position of power at their school paper because it becomes a springboard for the future. That concept alone leaves me ecstatic to take the reins come August.

Albeit it still feels as if I am in between two villages, staring out into the valley. I am voyaging through a tunnel that connects two separate states, each with unique spheres of life from which I can never return to the starting destination. A quote from my favorite video game, Undertale, starts its online adventure by saying “you can’t return to the ruins once you have left.” While the prospect of progress and innovation is electrifying, I cannot help but look at the realm I am leaving behind.

Growing up is a horrendous experience for anyone. Who would willingly sacrifice a structure that has been beaten into their lives for 20 plus years for nights alone in a crummy inner city apartment while drowning in debt? Although the idea of forgoing all-night study sessions and groggy, early morning walks to class for ivory walls and taxes seems like the end goal for anyone committing to a university, the four years go by too quickly to fully recognize what beauty there is in the mundane perspective of a college student.

Real life feels too close for comfort and this title change reminds me of that. In about a year, I am going to be faced with a cap and gown (which, if I can be candid, will probably be too long and drag on the ground behind me), choosing to either wear the attire as the mark of accomplishment or as a sign of the times. All those who walk the stage in approximately three weeks will have their own lives outside of John Carroll when it is my turn to shine; they will soon be long separated from their work on campus and from me.

I suppose there is a deep fear that those I love will forget their roots and me by default. I know this is all selfish and I would never request that my colleagues immolate their tomorrows for the sake of immortalizing me in their minds, but there is always a looming anxiety that once the seniors cross this bridge, their past lives and those encapsulated in their memories become gray and distant. Early mornings talking nonsense in the duty office and cold evenings in the newsroom become dust covered and sealed behind glass, turning into mere stories that can never be told for the first time again.

Yet, just like the previously established, beautifully mundane experiences of a college student, there is something hauntingly intoxicating about change and maturity. When you accept that you can never return to your adolescent years after you receive your diploma, you begin to appreciate the time that builds to this pivotal plot point.

Yes, this is a cheesy and cliche motif, but the fact that it perforates the media and fictional topics alike shows how pervasive these anxieties are. I look back to an overly quoted but still impactful quote from Bojack Horseman that says “everything must come to an end, the drip finally stops.”

Part of embracing this beautifully mundane life and these four years is accepting that it must conclude eventually. A “Groundhog Day”-style time loop is not only impossible but it would also become boring after a few weeks. While there is comfort in predictability and in knowing that you cannot be forgotten because your friends are forced to be in your proximity each day, moving on is both needed and a new opportunity.

When I originally told the 2022-23 Editor-in-Chief, Nick Sack ‘23, about my concept for this final column of the academic year, he told me he was also in a quasi-mourning state over the end of our combined experience. As we talked, I actually ended up tearing up in the newsroom while we attempted to craft some semblance of a Humans of JCU piece for the last time. As someone who gags at the idea of even shedding a lone tear in front of anyone, this vulnerability felt raw.

We both found ourselves feeling melancholic towards the idea of growing up and saying goodbye. I was transported back to the days when my classmates and I were forced to sing “Never Grow Up” by Taylor Swift at our fifth grade graduation, realizing I had finally reached the third verse in the ballad of my lifetime.

However, although the trepidation that accompanies novelty is formidable, it is still a new opportunity. A quote that reminds me of this is from “Night at the Museum,” in which the late Robin Williams delivers one of my favorite performances of his lifetime, even if it were just contingent on this sole scene. As Teddy Roosevelt, he looks at Ben Stiller’s Larry Daley and says, “You’ve done your job. It’s time for your next adventure!” Daley looks back with comfort but a small twinge of anxiety, responding with, “I have no idea what I’m going to do tomorrow.” Succinctly and elegantly, Roosevelt consoles Daly by finishing his dialogue with the phrase “How exciting.”

Yes, the seniors’ chapter is slowly dwindling and I see the conclusion of my own personal novel in sight. In spite of that, I recognize that this consciousness only makes me appreciate the book thus far and appreciate all those who have read the story along with me.