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The news that keeps us Onward On!

The Carroll News

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The Carroll News

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Keeping up with Kincaid: can I just stop being so anxious?

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

There is something beautifully spontaneous about writing columns. What starts as one idea quickly spirals into another like a ball of unraveling twine that is just beyond my grasp. I was keen on writing about my adventures in Disney World, Washington D.C. and the mythical land of Atlanta, GA. Alas, that does not seem to be the plan for this article. These were all fantastic experiences that I want to share, but this is not meant to be the week.

Perhaps it is my ADHD, but nowadays, I cannot force myself to write about something that is not weighing on my heart. While one could say this is an ethical objection from a journalistic standpoint, and I think this is a claim I have made in the past, it is more like a physical restriction: I cannot get my fingers to type anything that is not on the front of my mind or the tip of my tongue. Only the emotions I can grasp are tangible enough to ink down and I suppose that is what the great readers of The Carroll News will have to deal with.

I undoubtedly have a tendency to get hyper-fixated on topics or feelings from time to time and those special interests often translate themselves into the various works that I create. Was that special interest Club Penguin for a time? Yes, but that is beside the point.

It is not a secret that one of the things I pride myself on (and frankly obsess over) is what I do for The Carroll News. Like many Editors-in-Chief at college newspapers around the country, I spend a lot of time correcting errors or reworking pieces altogether in the newsroom in the student center. I spend hours staring at blinking cursors and email interview requests.

For some, it could be considered maddening, especially when much of your job hinges on correcting the mistakes of others. However, journalism is my passion. I also luckily have the ability to write along with editing, something that is much needed for my crowded brain.

Not only do I live and die with my work, but I use it as an outlet as well. Suddenly, impulses and fears become eloquent tapestries of words like the one you are reading now. When vocalized, they would be inconsistent ramblings punctuated by exasperated breaths. However, in print, they sometimes create a semblance of a coherent idea, maybe even a philosophic train of thought that people will quote thousands of years from now. I suppose this illustrates that something good can come from having feelings so large that they are all-consuming. They don’t have to be muting.

However, I find myself falling quiet a little too often these past few months. This could be surprising or even sacrilegious since I just recently penned a decent article on my looming anger, but those tendencies have seemingly been turned around and reformatted. Now, I am anxious.

Those who know me best know that I have certain behaviors that indicate if I am feeling disquieted. My skin will break out into red patches, my breathing will become a bit scattered and my voice will drop to a monotone hum, if I decide to speak at all. I also become irritable or hyper-arrogant, oftentimes acting like I’m wearing horse blinders that keep me on a steadfast course to one goal and one goal alone.

Anxiety is a common feeling for college students. From exam grades to student organization elections, there are so many uncertainties that dictate how your mood could fluctuate from day to day or even from hour to hour. I know it is possible to brush off these fears for some, but sometimes these worries can be crippling. For me, they can become intense and biting, especially as it is difficult to divert my attention from such pressing matters.

While I am not a psychologist or anything close to it, I once heard that anxiety puts your body into a fight or flight position; everything else that should matter doesn’t until the threat is neutralized. Personally, it can feel like a suffocating prison that people can only view through a keyhole. Advice to “just stop worrying” becomes not only annoying but a numb prayer that falls and shatters like a glass pane. Those who don’t know how paralyzing this emotion is shrug it off, but God, I wish I could just stop worrying like they say.

Sometimes, it feels like my anxiety controls my life. Schoolwork falls to the wayside if I have a big meeting randomly placed on my calendar by a superior. I cannot take a nap because I am waiting patiently for feedback on a paper I wrote for one of my favorite professors. Just as I cannot narrow my focus to write about specific column themes, I cannot divert my attention away from the emotion.

Perhaps the lesson at the end of this column is not that I need to fix my anxiety but learn to channel it. In the same vein as my other analogy on how the body reacts to strong emotions, I remember watching a Buzzfeed video one time in middle school that compared anxiety to a needy dog, one that brings up concerns that are both palpable and nuanced.

I do not think I would be in the position I am in without my worry; it makes me strive for A’s in classes where others may take B’s or lower. It causes me to reread my writing dozens of times over and to proofread emails at least three times before clicking “send.” I find millions of reasons to strive for perfection before settling for mediocrity.

While a bit unwarranted, I suppose that my sense of anxiety can sometimes be beneficial. However, is the worry worth the reward? That is probably something I have to wait and see. Will my hours pondering my words in a presentation be worth 100% in Canvas? Do my nerves that cause my stomach to shrink into the size of a fist justify the perfect video project? Maybe this shows I need to do more research on the long term impacts of stress. Or, on a less self aware note, I should just try to shift my focus again.

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About the Contributor
Laken Kincaid
Laken Kincaid, Editor-in-Chief
Laken Kincaid is the Editor-in-Chief for The Carroll News from Beckley, West Virginia. They are a senior at John Carroll University who is double majoring in political science and communications (digital media) and minoring in leadership development. Laken has written for The Carroll News since the start of their freshman year and has previously served as a staff reporter, campus section editor and managing editor of the paper. They have received 18 Best of SNO awards, a Society of Professional Journalists Mark of Excellence award for Region 4 and two honorable mentions from the College Media Association. They have also been recognized by universities like Georgetown for their investigative reports. Additionally, they also write political satire for The Hilltop Show and feature stories on global poverty for The Borgen Project. In addition to their involvement with The Carroll News, Laken is involved with the Kappa Delta sorority, the speech and debate team, the Center for Student Diversity and Inclusion, the Improv club and other organizations. They also serve as the news director for WJCU 88.7, John Carroll's own radio station, and as the president for John Carroll's Society of Professional Journalists chapter.  Laken also started their own national nonprofit organization known as Art with the Elderly which they have won the President's Volunteer Service Award and the Humanity Rising Award for. When not writing, Laken can be found doing graphic design for their internship with Union Home Mortgage or working as a resident assistant and peer learning facilitator on campus. Laken also enjoys skiing and watching true crime documentaries. In the future, Laken hopes to become a political journalist for a national news organization or to be a campaign commercial editor for politicians. To contact Laken, email them at [email protected].

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