60.6 F

Davis, California

Thursday, April 18, 2024

Discovering myself

In the wise words of Kacey Musgraves, “Everything is alright now, ‘cause the sky has finally opened”


I grew up as a somewhat domesticated version of a granola kid, never anticipating my first 18 years would lead me to a town similar to my upbringing. Fortunate to have spent much of it exploring the outdoors of my home state of Montana, my granola youth was juxtaposed with my interests in acrobatics and dance, studio art, graphic design and modern architecture. I felt like any other average white girl then. 

However, the past four years have helped me see myself for who I truly am in all my unique glory. Davis showed me how different I actually was, and why I should appreciate all that I am — the good, the bad and the ugly. Who knew Davis would be the perfect blend of just enough yee yee, hippie bulls*** and modern tech to bring it out of me.

Discovering my true self came with some of my highest highs and lowest lows. I’ve lost touch with a lot of close friends from my first years. I’ve found that my anxiety and depression can get so much worse than I thought. I have explored new states and beautiful outdoor spaces. I’ve felt the worst loneliness in my entire life, poured my entire self into my schoolwork and extracurriculars and found those who truly appreciate me through doing what I love and trusting myself. I have all those I’ve interacted with to thank for my experience, for without them I may have remained lost. Even though I am leaving California knowing it wasn’t all I made it up to be (sorry y’all), the individuals I have spoken to over these years have given me all I need to succeed. I now know my worth, and I will never settle for anything less. 

I am Joëlle. I am a hard-working, creative, goofy, efficient, outdoorsy, loyal, energetic, independent, honest and tenacious human being. Being here through California’s worst wildfires, a shooting, a tornado (warning), a bear on campus, a machete man — and not to mention a global pandemic — has taught me to, above all else, rely on only myself to get through each day. I am my biggest supporter. (Okay you’re right, maybe my parents beat me to that one.)

Even though it wasn’t an easy ride, I have those who have stuck by my side through thick and thin to dedicate my experience to.

To my high school besties — you have stayed alongside me during my greatest and lowest moments. Annie, Kate, Maeve, Molly, Gabri, I am so beyond proud of y’all, and you have no idea how much you have helped me through university. Coming home to you all (luckily more times than expected with the pandemic) will forever be one of my favorite feelings. Goodbyes were frequent and difficult, and now as we all move on to the next, please know I will be there for each of you every day as you were for me. I love you so much.

Thad — you saved me when I needed you the most (even though I was the one who reached out to you). Long distance has been one of the hardest things I’ve emotionally gone through, but I have kept peace in knowing you are my best friend, and we have finally gotten through it together. I love you so much and I am so proud of you (NAU Forestry Class of ‘22!).

“recognizing your roots will help you discover your true, genuine and unique self.”

To my parents — I would not still be here if it weren’t for you. You know when I am hurting before I even realize it myself. You have encouraged me to continue challenging myself, try new things, embrace the unexpected and advocate for what I believe in. I am so lucky to have you. I love you.

Mom — even though you call me asking me to do design work for you, expecting my classes to be going well and telling me to do things I probably should but won’t (like scheduling a dentist appointment, oops), you have given me advice that has gotten me through everything. You have supported me every step of the way, even when you didn’t want to. You make me laugh when I’m low, and you know some chocolate or a good cocktail with you is always the perfect pick-me-up. You have done so much for me, and I can’t thank you enough for all of it.

Dad — you have pushed me to continue being my best. Even though you don’t say it, I have always anticipated you had high expectations for me, and I hope I have met them. I have never had anyone else tell me how proud they are of me, and it means so much to me when you remind me that you’re always there for me. Even though I know I should have called you more, I knew you were at home cheering me on each and every day. Even though you know I probably wouldn’t because my work ethic is too much like your own, I might have dropped out if it weren’t for you helping and encouraging me through each leg of school.

Stef — somehow you always see right through me. You probably could have predicted the way my relationships with everyone here panned out before I had even seen it coming. You have always been one of my biggest supporters no matter what, and you always prioritize my happiness and comfort. I really appreciate all you do for me, especially keeping Dad sane back at home. I know you, Maya and Koda will always be there to lift me up when I need it. 

Special big thank you to Claire and Stephen (Mom and Dad) for funding this roller coaster ride I’ve been on. I hope I can make it up to you one day.

Lastly, to The Aggie — one of the only constants in my university experience. Not only did you provide me with some of the easiest, yet most stressful work, but you have given me something to look forward to each week. Without a doubt, layout with Anjini, Margo and Janice every Tuesday (JJAM!) had me smiling by the end of it, no matter how I was feeling that day. It has given me an escape from the rest of the stressors in my life, and a community I will value forever. Even though my team and I might be the most overlooked desk (oop), we wouldn’t be able to publish each week without all my wonderful layout artists and I have all of them from over the last two years to thank! Chloe, Sophia, Gennifer, Emily, Shraesht, Abby, Ariana, Allison, Jolene, Cassidy and especially my Assistant Layout Director Janice. Thanks for dealing with my perfectionism and always implementing my edits. Y’all rock. I love you, The Aggie. Despite my lows, you were always a positive in my life and I’ll miss our crazy shenanigans. Wherever we all end up, we will always have this community and the good times we had on A St. (and Zoom! Especially sitting on Stargazer’s face).

I leave you with a message to my 18-year-old self. You too, have these qualities within you, whether you know it or not. I know you can get through this, even if you feel like you can’t. Your hardest decisions will be the ones you make for the betterment of yourself, but if you can put yourself first, you will ultimately have no regrets. Embrace and love yourself (and your true supporters) because you are great, and you are capable of so much more than you think you are. You will always be a Montana girl at heart, and recognizing your roots will help you discover your true, genuine and unique self. (This is probably only applicable to myself but you get me.)

If you know me well you’ll know I’m not usually able to put such a positive spin on an experience like I’ve had, but I guess that’s just a part of growing up and discovering yourself.

Written by: Joelle Tahta

Joelle Tahta is The California Aggie’s layout director. She joined The Aggie in winter 2020 as a graphic designer. In fall 2020, she took on the role of layout director, which she has been serving in since. She is graduating with honors with a B.A. in design with an emphasis in visual and graphic design and a minor in managerial economics.


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