What I've Learned From My First Year at Her Campus

Hi, all. My name is Grace. I’ve just finished my freshman year at UNC Chapel Hill, and I’m a History and English double major. There’s a chance you recognize my articles, and there’s a chance you don’t – but I’ve only been doing this for, like, nine months now. I’m using my last article of the semester (crazy!!) to do a bit of reflection on my time here and on what’s to come.


If I’m remembering correctly, I applied to write for Her Campus - Chapel Hill, like, the second or third week of school. Really early. And, in true Gemini stellium fashion, I was already trying to overload myself with extracurriculars. I don’t remember exactly how I found out about this. I’m 80% sure that it was from the English and Comparative Literature Department mailer list; I saw “looking for writers” or something of that nature, and my eyes bugged out in what was likely an incredibly comical nature. 


See, I had been freelancing online for over a year at this point. It’s fun, it’s rewarding, but above all, it’s sort of cutthroat, especially nowadays. There’s a very specific energy that most online publications enjoy: very literary, abstract stories; poems playing with structure; everything an inversion of the traditional. It’s a challenge, but one I was willing to undertake. A challenge that, simply, reaps a lot of rejection. This isn’t to say that freelancing isn’t an important path for a modern writer to take – not at all. I’m already on my way to restarting my freelance gigs, as school dwindles to a close. However, it lacks a community, so, when I saw a specific organization – this organization – looking for writers, my heart leapt. From my application to my acceptance, there was a fast turn-around, and I was ecstatic when I was accepted. 


It wasn’t super easy at first, at least not on the writing end. After all, I had geared myself to write in the modern literary prose – breezy and allegorical and in no way complementary to creative nonfiction. I had a couple of creative nonfiction essays published in the past (all based on the emotions evoked by various Andrew Bird albums, I’m pretty sure), but creative nonfiction was my weak spot by far. And, for the most part, that’s what Her Campus is (I had a couple prose-leaning essays published, and a poem last week, but no matter). It was an understatement to say I was intimidated. For a perfectionist like myself, it was high time to rise to the occasion.


I think I did. Not to say I perfected the art of the creative essay, far from it, but I bridged my horizons. I got more comfortable with this medium and with churning out higher word counts in shorter amounts of time. The themes kept me on my feet. And, equally important, I met a fabulous group of young women who worked hard and were fantastically easy to talk with about anything. 


Long story short, I’m fortunate! I’m glad to be writing here now. I’m glad I applied. I’m excited for the next year. 


At the risk of being cliche… have a great summer!