To Edit or Not to Edit

Arya Vishwakarma ’25 (Opinions Editor, 144th Board) in Editorials | May 26, 2024

I was lucky enough to edit the senior reflections published in this week’s issue; after many conversations and late nights of writing, these V Formers present you, dear reader, with four years’ worth of takeaways condensed into a few paragraphs. As the Class of 2024 shares their reflections, we take this opportunity to reflect on their journey and accomplishments.

At the crux of their high school experience, this class of seniors has struck a balance between striving for perfection and embracing spontaneity, cultivating a dynamic and resilient approach to leadership. For their guidance in aspiring for success while remaining adaptable and innovative, we underformers remain inspired and grateful. 

While it may seem like perfectionism and embracing spontaneity contradict each other, here at The Lawrence, the writing process teaches us these two qualities can coexist. Lawrenceville teaches all of us to be editors: around those iconic Harkness tables, on the lush green fields, even sprawled across The Lawrence’s scuffed gray couch, we learn to rise to other people’s standards through our thoughts and actions. To have this inner editor is to live forever critical, utilizing careful planning to achieve near-perfection. If a hobby we used to love, an unnecessary body paragraph, or a mutual friendship ceases to help us reach our very specific goals, we cut it. Pruning something in order to help it grow isn’t necessarily bad. Opinion articles tend to emerge clearer with rounds of editing, and you will definitely run faster after committing to a season of targeted training with no off-days. In fact, the Class of 2024 knows this trimming process intimately: they have learned to cut away belligerent Harkness-table interjections and petty II-Form drama, clearing room in their lives for what really matters to them. In this sense, one way to grow as a person and lead others is to plan—to organize, craft, and edit—your visions into reality. 

Through continuous experimentation, adjusted planning, and “re-editing” of their original goals, the Student Council has achieved greater success with each iteration of their agendas.  Much of their original goals were large and ambitious, but overtime, these aspirations evolved into simple initiatives that succeeded in supercharging school spirit and improved student life (consider the new House Points bracket or the novel approach piloting new parietal rules). They have learned how to change our school spirit for the better—ever-tweaking, ever-editing it. 

Although we should treasure the slow process of reflection and revision, embracing spontaneity is also necessary for achieving goals that leave a lasting legacy. After some level of self-improvement, one’s inner editor living in your brain might overstep. The internal editor strangles sentences or ideas mid-thought, terror-stricken by the criticism to come. Sharing our feelings adequately, concisely, and perfectly (as we all expect ourselves to be capable of) sometimes seems impossible, so instead we leave our feelings unsaid. When driven to the extreme, our inner editor can thwart our pursuit towards our goals. At this point, we have strayed too far towards our instincts to edit, so far as to paralyze us. Thus, at a certain point, shedding the “inner-editor” is essential for maintaining our progress, and we must flirt with spontaneity, breaking free from our inner editor’s restraints. 

I am most struck by how the Class of 2024, despite their capabilities for impressive analytical writing, has chosen tender reflections that experiment with form and craft. These senior reflections are full of creative liberties, from variation in verse and prose, an “acknowledgments” section, to an analysis of journaling. Each one is as distinct and creative as the V Formers themselves, breaking out of conventions, experimenting with style and tone, and conveying their wisdom with remarkable clarity. In these pieces, the Class of 2024 flaunts their ability to rein in the inner critic, using change and experimentation to hone their voices. The Class of 2024 is no stranger to chaos, turbulence, and change: this class shouldered the effects of Covid-19 and watched Artificial Intelligence shake Lawrenceville’s definition of original work. The V Form, unruffled by new beginnings, is powerful in its flexibility. 

Having studied the V Form’s balancing act as writers and editors ourselves, we hope to find a similar balance between calculating outcomes and taking risks. As my final year at Lawrenceville approaches, it is by looking to the success of the Class of 2024 that we can find inspiration for our own leadership—and by doing so, write our own legacy.