Volume 96, Issue 99
Friday, April 4, 2003

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Memories, cliches and goodbyes

Take it down a notch
Shannon Proudfoot
Graphics Editor

So what do you write in your last column for a paper you have grown to love more than you ever thought possible?

At this stage, with the conclusion of that fabled time known as university (some prefer to refer to it as "college") looming, every legitimate feeling seems rooted in a cliché. Time flies. You don't know how much you love something until it's gone. Make the most of every single day.

It's strange how intense attachments to things and places and people crop up where you least foresee them.

Many of us spend a great deal of time mocking our campus for its proliferation of puffy vests, cell phones and fake-bake tans, but we will miss those trappings dearly when we are in more diverse places. Somehow, you develop affection for the Western stereotype that surrounds you – even if you don't want to be part of it.

Even bourgeois, conservative London takes on a certain sheen of nostalgia when it's time to leave. The places that were once unfamiliar (or all too mundanely familiar) now contain memories of the corner where you drunkenly realized you'd found a best friend, or the secluded site of the most wonderful kiss you've ever shared.

Annoying roommates, hideous digs in the student ghetto and even the test of mettle known as the all-nighter begin to blur and become charming elements of your life at school, instead of the trials they once were.

However, the biggest transition in perception that takes place is probably how you view yourself. Hackneyed, I know: "University is a wonderful place to grow and mature and learn, blah, blah, blah." But true nonetheless.

You realize that you can and should do things you wouldn't consider in high school. Challenges like going places alone and knowing that you'll find friends, or cooking up a 12-page paper starting at 10 p.m. the night before (which I have certainly never done – no – that is not my style at all) become possible.

I think this assurance that comes with maturity goes far beyond social and academic skills. It is the simple security of having been tested and realizing you can survive things you wouldn't have thought possible.

This hard-won strength comes not in looking for challenges to overcome, but in meeting them with grace and tenacity when you need to.

To quote Eleanor Roosevelt (yeah, I never though I would either): "Every time you meet a situation, though you think at the time it is an impossibility, and you go through the tortures of the damned – once you have met it and lived through it, you find that forever after you are freer than you were before."

I suppose that wisdom applies to leaving the university and the student newspaper and the friends and colleagues I have come to love. It may hurt now, but it will be all right, and we all have amazing adventures to look forward to.

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