Final Reflections: Changing Focus

Until now, I’ve attempted to summarize my beliefs in a concise little textbox with a one-word descriptive like “liberal,” “moderate” or the cliché YouTube link to the idealistic and inspiring “The Greatest Speech Ever Made” by Charlie Chaplin. I even went through a phase when I was disenchanted by the politics, and all I wanted to do in life was become an Impressionist painter. Even then, I still didn’t want to leave the box blank. So I listed my political views as “Gustav Klimt.”

But now I’m finally acknowledging my life-long identity crisis. After 20 years, it’s just now that I realize how little I know, and how unqualified I am to imply a certain correctness in a one-worded political ideology by listing it under my “political views.” By admitting that, and consequently deleting that part of my profile, I’m accepting that I don’t have all the answers.

As editor of the Focus section, I’ve found that my section mirrors this realization. It’s been over 20 years since Focus (which used to go by “Perspective”) was created. It’s been loosely defined as a “features” section, running articles that are longer, less time sensitive and written with a lighter voice than news pieces.

But after the two-plus decades since its nascence, Focus still begs for an identity, often referred to as a “catch-all” or “filler.”  Being the Focus editor has been a unique struggle. Aside from the universal challenges of a newspaper editor, like meeting deadlines, grappling with typos and AP style errors and trying not to mess up photo and art credits, it’s hard to determine what role Focus should play in the Guardian. I feel like I’ve been in charge of raising a bright, but shy teenager uncertain of his role in the world.

It’s a struggle that resonates with all of us.

As college students, we fear the looming future. We squirm uncomfortably when people ask us, “What are you doing after graduation?” As we grapple with our own undeveloped sense of purpose, we are also at a uniquely challenging moment in time as we face a stagnant economy, lackluster job market and ever-growing student debt. If only there were a one-word answer to all of these challenges that could fit into your Facebook profile and provide the solutions. 

But during crises and hardships, we have the opportunity to look at the underlying forces, the mechanics of the institutions that not only control our lives, but that we often are in control of. It’s when we struggle with finding the answers that we realize how little we’ve known all along.

Ending the year, I’m still not sure how to describe Focus. But I think I’m onto something. There’s decisiveness to indecisiveness. The blank “political views” on my Facebook implies an explorative state. The lack of a belief system defines me perfectly well—it reflects my eagerness to learn, and my continued dedication to finding truth. 

And Focus may not provide the answers, but acknowledges the question, and seeks to explore. And I believe the right questions are much more important than haphazard answers.

With this knowledge, or lack thereof, I’m optimistic about Focus’s role as we end this year and begin the next. We plan on linking Focus with news, and running even more investigative articles taking a closer look at the issues covered briefly in news. And by keeping around the profiles, science features and InFocuses, we plan on giving students a small glimpse of the enormous and vibrant culture at UCSD.

I’m one confused 20-year-old, but with every Lady music session with Editor-in-Chief and good friend Angela Chen, my young soul grows wiser (I recommend “Yankin’” and “Teach Y’all” if you seek some good old fashioned female empowerment). With the year to come, I’m excited to witness Focus’s own soul search.

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