Just a game

I’ve been a Golden State Warriors fan for a while. It’s quite easy to be a fan right now, especially as the team fights for its fourth title in five years, and it’s hard to remember what it feels like not to make it to the championship. But when we lost to the Cleveland Cavaliers in summer 2016, and my eyes embarrassingly filled with tears as I walked away from the Manhattan restaurant showing the game, I realized just how invested I was in the team.

Extra? Maybe. But representative of me as a person? Definitely.

As my four years at UC Berkeley come to a close, I’ve concluded that my college journey has felt just like a basketball game. It’s had its ups and downs, I’ve gotten some nasty court burns, I’ve broken a few bones, and there have sure been a lot of tears. But I’ve gotten back up and tried my hardest to sprint to the end of the court every time — and now, to the end of the game.

I was so excited to come to college as a high school senior, but when I finally got here, I felt like a benchwarmer. I froze and stood by the sidelines as I watched everyone, thinking too much about what I wanted to do and what I hadn’t done enough of. As my first year ended, this nagging feeling that I wasn’t pushing myself made me realize that I needed to actually start shooting, even if all of my shots ended up being air balls. Sure, I didn’t know all the plays and the fancy tricks, but I needed to start playing.

So in my second year, I played. I immersed myself completely, and I got emotionally attached. I pushed myself outside of my comfort zone. I went out of my way to make new friends, I applied to and got rejected from a few clubs, I started writing for The Daily Californian without any journalism experience, and I ultimately left the things and people that didn’t bring me joy, as hard as it was.

As my time in school progressed, I spent hours solving (read: attempting) delta-epsilon proofs, wrestled with what renowned philosophers had to say about the mind-body problem and debugged code while listening to my carefully curated Spotify playlists. Whenever I was too hard on myself and would worry that I wouldn’t accomplish what I set out to do — which happened more than I’d like to admit — I’d remind myself: It’s just a game. It’s at UC Berkeley that I realized that the journey to the championship is always going to be a tough one.

The fourth quarter has come to a close now, leaving me nostalgic but, at the same time, excited for future games. At the end of any basketball game, it’s proper etiquette to thank the referees, your supporters and even your opponents. So, here we go.

To the Dubs — I’ll be a die-hard fan even when you don’t make it to the championships one day. It’s inspiring to watch players work so hard every single game and get back up whenever they fall.

To my friends — thanks for all the laughs, dabs, food adventures and support. And for listening to me go on about Taylor Swift and Drake songs, the people we’re going to run into on the streets and which Ferrari you should drive to Jamba Juice.

To Caffe Strada — I’m sorry for not ranking your chai lattes higher on the rankings the Daily Clog published. They’re actually really good — extra hot, of course. Some of my toughest conversations and favorite college moments have been here. I love you a latte.

To the Daily Cal — I’m really thankful to have served as your blog editor. Ever since I was a little girl, I’ve wanted to lead a team, and I can’t even describe in words how much fun I had leading something so dear to my heart. Peace, love, Clog — forever and always.

To my family — I can’t thank you enough. You’ve been my No. 1 supporters, when I thought I wouldn’t pass a class or when I wasn’t sure I could teach myself how to sew four outfits from scratch. I owe you everything.

And to what I believe will always be the No. 1 public university in the world — UC Berkeley, it may have been a real nail-biter, but it was a great game. I’m excited and ready to play in whatever my next one may be.

Avanti Mehrotra joined The Daily Californian in fall 2016 as a blog writer. She also joined the sports department and covered Cal men’s gymnastics in spring 2017, and she went on to serve as an assistant blog editor in summer 2017 and fall 2017 and blog editor in spring 2018. She is graduating with bachelor’s degrees in applied mathematics and cognitive science.