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To acquire wisdom, one must observe

The first of the lasts

The end has to begin somewhere. We just don’t usually notice that we’ve entered the end until whatever it was has commenced. Therefore, it makes it hard to say when the beginning stops being the beginning and when the middle has become the inevitable end. For this case in particular, let us establish that we are approaching the beginning of the end. That’s right, we are approaching the last first day of class for the class of 2023. 

I’ve never been terribly good with endings. Endings of books, endings of tv series—they always left me with this sort of empty feeling. It was that realization that you will never experience what just happened for the first time ever again. It just leaves this feeling of a hole. And inevitably in life you fill that hole with new experiences that make you forget you ever even had a hole. With a lot of endings in life, I always coped with that feeling by knowing what was coming next. For school in particular this was simple because there was a plan in place for what comes next. Graduating from elementary school I knew I would be going to intermediate school, graduating from intermediate school I knew I was going to high school, graduating from high school I knew I was going to college. You get the picture. But after college there is more variability with what comes next. Some people go to graduate school, others prepare for the Medical College Admission Test (MCAT) or the Law School Admission Test (LSAT) and then there are those of us who head out into the working world. 

There are so many options to choose from. Now I’ve never been a person who loves spontaneity, but I’m trying to be better about this. I also don’t love an abundance of options because I support the paradox of choice. I like having a plan and knowing what’s coming next. With so many options that kind of takes away from my one-track mind preference. And yes I know it’s exciting and novel and all those good things. But in order to get to the good part, you have to let go of what you’ve been accustomed to. In this case this means letting go of our time as undergraduate students at Brandeis University. 

There are things I’m not going to have a hard time saying goodbye to. I won’t be too sorry to say goodbye to staying up until 2 a.m. to study for exams. I also won’t miss the odd hours that college students find themselves keeping in order to manage their classes and extracurricular activities. And in some ways I feel ready to say goodbye to college. My mother always used to tell me and my sisters that when we got comfortable somewhere that usually meant it was time for us to move on. Because it meant we got what we needed, we learned the lessons we needed to, and that meant it was time to go seek out another opportunity to grow. 

Growing is cool. Getting taller as a kid was so awesome. Remember that feeling of having a new viewpoint because you gained a couple of centimeters? But with a lot of growth we can’t go backwards. So, yes, you got a new perspective when you gained that extra height, but you had to get rid of those pants you loved because the hem was too short. 

Brandeis is like a pair of pants in this case. I’ll admit this is a weird analogy for me to be making and I never thought I would make such a comparison but here we are. Back to the point at hand, yes I’m excited to grow but I’m not excited to say goodbye to my pants—my pants being Brandeis. 

I know I’m going to miss writing for the paper every week, even though sometimes it really pushes me to my limits. I’m going to miss being on a team and getting to race every weekend, which is something that has been in my life for almost eight years. I’m going to miss the people Brandeis has brought me to that I now will be far from. You don’t realize what a privilege it is to live so close to your closest friends. You don’t have to walk more than 10 minutes to get to a friend in need, and that is such a wonderful thing that it’s hard to imagine living without it. Because now is when the class of 2023 starts to make their plans for next year. Friends decide to move all across the country and heck, to other countries as well for that matter. It won’t be as simple to get to a friend as it has been the past four years and that is something that has really struck me. I’ll never be able to get these days back, living in Mods with some of my favorite people, and I guess it just makes me extra grateful for what I have right now.   

It’s also just weird to think that while I approach the start of this semester as the beginning of the end of my college career, there are some who are just beginning their beginning. 

So, midyears, welcome to campus. Welcome to the start of your beginning here at Brandeis. It goes quickly, so enjoy every last second of it—I’m sure at least 10 people have said this to you already. It’s cliché, which means it’s true. And you will roll your eyes as you read this but take it as someone who was once you and is now getting ready to leave—it’s true. The days are long, yes, but the years are short. Time makes zero sense in college because freshman year feels like it was yesterday and also somehow a life ago. Even the undesirable parts of college will become moments that you wish you could go back to. Enjoy it all, take every moment in stride. There are some rough patches coming your way, that’s unavoidable. But there are also clear skies and good company waiting to go along with you for the ride. 

And it’s okay not to fit in right away. There’s no need to put that pressure on yourself to find your best friend within your first week. Sometimes this just takes time, but you will eventually find your way, in your own time. Trust the process.  

My biggest piece of advice: try new things. Do things that you wouldn’t have done before. Join clubs (shameless plug for The Hoot), find intramural sports you love and hang out with the people who make you feel happy. Find a version of yourself that you like being and don’t settle for anything less. And it’s okay to make mistakes. People aren’t perfect. Make mistakes and learn from them and become something more magnificent than before. Now’s your time and the beginning is a great place to be. Sometimes it’s scary, and that’s okay too. But to feel nervous or scared right now is a privilege, because it means you’re right on the verge of finding something wonderful.

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