It’s traditional for the Daily Cal’s outgoing editor in chief and president to write a farewell column. The purpose of that column is to make some kind of book-ending statement about what it’s been like to lead this paper, or go to this school, or live in this city, or be this person. That tradition weighs heavily on me now. As is the case with most of the people who have worked here for a significant portion of four years, the Daily Cal has been the center of my world in college. And because this will probably be the very last thing I write for the Daily Cal, this column has been difficult for me to start. There are too many things I want to do here.
During the second half of my sophomore year, I began to think I wasn’t cut out to be a journalist. I don’t remember what month or even what day of the week it was — all I can recall now is the gray morning. The sun wasn’t shining when, as I do first thing every day, I rolled over to check my email on my phone.
I have this thing about keys. When I was a kid, we were forever getting locked out of our house. I didn’t understand what it meant then; I thought we just needed the right keys. When I grew up, I knew better. I knew what an eviction was, what “foreclosure” and “repossession” meant. I knew what the sound of the sheriff knocking on the door meant and that it was best just to hand over the keys.
My life is defined by an endless number of to-do lists. I like the feeling of checking something off after I do it. It’s who I’ve always been — just like other Cal students, I am constantly running around campus, going to meetings and class, and I like it that way. Without my to-do lists, especially over college breaks, I had a tendency to become anxious.
I often think of life as a series of lucky breaks. Getting into UC Berkeley, being able to move across the country for school and falling in love with the place I chose seemed like an improbable string of good fortune. This notion continued when I found I would be able to graduate early in December…
During my freshman year, I felt as lost and lonely as an astronaut stuck on Earth. I had dropped out of my engineering courses by week two. After hanging out with my floormates all night in the fire escape, I would go to bed still feeling dizzy and lonely. Then I applied to The Daily Californian.
I am graduating with nothing before me. I should be overtly anxious and scrambling, fumbling for a semblance of stability in the postgrad world, but instead I feel calm. Deep down inside, I have a gut feeling that everything will work out fine. Here’s why: I am about to graduate from UC Berkeley, and there’s no institution that could have prepared me better for dealing with the yawning abyss I’m about to fall into.
When I first got the email that I had been accepted to UC Berkeley in 2010, I was obviously ecstatic. I had a free period and immediately went to go tell an English teacher who had gone here, and the one piece of advice he gave me that has defined my UC Berkeley experience was that I should check out the co-ops as a housing option.
A few years ago, I came across an article to “aspiring authors” that denied the term altogether. The gist of the argument was to cut out the qualifier: You’re either an author, or you’re not. There is no “aspiring,” only writing or not writing. This Yoda-esque concept, an essentially “do or do not” attitude, has resonated with me throughout my college years…
In the spring of sophomore year, I failed one of the first engineering classes I ever took and came close to not passing a few others. I began to doubt that I was cut out for the academic rigor of this university. I remember telling my roommate at the time that people could be successful without a college degree, so I didn’t necessarily need one either.