In two hours, I’m going to be logging in to my last class, which is going to be the last class I ever attend. It feels like a milestone in my life — leaving the comfort of academia to finally venture out into the unknown.
I saw most of my friends go through this last year, when we graduated from undergrad, but exactly one year later, I finally feel it hitting me. I’m almost done with my fifth year at Hopkins.
There’s so much that I had on my bucket list for May 2020 that I won’t be able to do: go to the steam tunnels, go to every home baseball game, see a baseball crash through some unsuspecting freshman’s AMR III window, venture down to D-level for the first time, step on the seal, and the list goes on.
But then again, I can’t complain. I had my graduation. I had my senior week. My four years at Hopkins ended exactly as they were supposed to. Now I’m almost done with my master’s, and this year was anything but what it was supposed to be.
In February, I was already trying to get used to my “new normal” of living with chronic pain. Then in March, “new normal” took on a whole new meaning. Walking to class hurt. Sitting on classroom chairs hurt. So I never thought I’d be upset about being able to go to class on my couch.
And I miss it.
But still, I find myself feeling nostalgic about this new normal. I’m going to miss trying to subtly laugh about something the professor said, then realizing they can see me on Zoom video, then laughing even harder at that realization, then turning my video off because I can’t control myself, then getting a screenshot from my friend of both of us laughing.
Last night, my undergrad roommates and I were FaceTiming and watching a movie, and I fell asleep while talking to them. It felt comfortable, almost normal, almost like we were back in our old apartment and had all fallen asleep on the couch together.
Some of my other friends and I are still continuing our Star Wars marathon. And after the movie ends, we just sit there, reminiscing about the ridiculousness that was freshman year, none of us really wanting to leave until we realize it’s 2 a.m. and we actually have to be functional in the morning.
As a child, I never really had friends. No one who actually wanted to spend time with me unless they were forced to. Even now, sitting on Zoom, I sometimes find myself wondering why I’m on the call. I think, It would probably be the same, maybe even more fun, without me, why do they even want me here. And then I stop myself.
And that ability to stop myself might be the proudest accomplishment of these five years. Finally, it feels like it’s time for me to leave. It feels like I can leave. It feels like in my own small way, I may have left my mark on this place.
I’ve made friends, and I’ve lost friends. I’ve lost a lot of friends. But the people left, I can say with all the certainty I can muster, are going to be in my life forever. And what’s more is I finally feel like they want me in their lives too.
I remember this trip my friend and I took to D.C. to see some of our friends who live there. At first, the plan was to go ice skating. But I couldn’t do that because of my knee and my back and basically my everything. And I was all set to sit on a bench on the side and watch them ice skate and enjoy themselves. But they changed the plan.
We went back and sat around my friend’s living room and just talked and played card games instead. They don’t know how much that meant to me, and I couldn’t find a way to tell them. But it was more than I had ever hoped for.
I don’t really know what this article is supposed to be, and to the editors who have to come up with some sort of all-encompassing headline, I’m so sorry. I knew that I was going to write it, my last News-Letter article. It was practically five years in the making. And I agonized for weeks, wanting it to be perfect.
It seems like nothing I put on this page could ever be enough.
If you know me, you know how much this newspaper means to me. And I don’t know how to do my experience here justice in 1,000 words.
The irony really is that my last article for The News-Letter is about three days late. For years, I was the one nagging people to turn in their pages and their articles early. But here I am, late.
The weird thing, though, is that no one nagged me. Nobody messaged me saying if I didn’t turn in my article this instant they wouldn’t publish it. They just offered up their help if I needed any. When I had to bail on writing articles all semester because of health issues, I felt terrible, but none of the editors held it against me.
And now they’re taking over. The people who were high school seniors on my admissions tours listening to every word I said about how much I loved being a part of The News-Letter. The people who read my articles when they were freshmen and reached out to me years later saying those articles meant something to them. The people I helped train.
You all know I’m proud. I don’t think I need to say that again, but I will. I’m so proud. But more than that, you’re why I feel ready to leave. You’re why I feel like I’ve made my impact.
It’s your turn now.