The last one

Off the Beat

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I want to move somewhere new and completely start over.

It’s an irrational urge I’ve had for all my life — to truly escape, leave everyone who knows me behind and be a different, better person in a new reality. 

I spent my college years chasing this dream in small ways. I moved from Southern California to Berkeley early, a couple of weeks after I graduated from high school, giving me an exhilarating start. 

Soon after, I leaped from the comfortable into the unknown again. I spent a semester gallivanting around Europe while studying in London, a newness which brought with it some of the euphoria, adventure and curiosity I crave.

While scary, I tend to thrive when thrown into the deep end of life, forced to take responsibility for myself and figure out how to survive.  Even in their smallness, each of these actions has fueled the flame of my desire to leave what I know again and move to another city, only to start anew once more. 

Now, I’m on the edge of potentially the greatest escape of my lifetime, with bigger possibilities than I’ve ever faced before. With graduation in a couple of short weeks and the unknown future so full of options, I’m so close to entering that deep end once again.

And I’m ready to go, but I’m also not.

The last two and a half years at UC Berkeley have been full of surprises, but the biggest one was the amount of joy and contentment I found here — a feeling I never really experienced or thought was possible for me before. 

Don’t get me wrong: It isn’t all sunshine and rainbows. I am a mentally ill human, so what I’ve experienced isn’t traditional “happiness” or “enjoyment.” I’ve still had more bad days than I can count and some of the lowest lows of my lifetime, but now I also feel something I’ve never felt before: a desire to stay.

I want to stay because it is good here, even when I am struggling and can’t recognize how good it is. 

And it’s the people here — those I have the privilege of calling my friends — who’ve made it good. 

Listing everyone I love from Berkeley here is too much pressure, but I hope I have made them all feel as incredibly loved and warm as each one of them makes me feel every day. 

To everyone I’ve met, to those who have accepted and supported me despite my faults, bad days and all: Thank you, thank you, thank you. 

From the bottom of my heart, I love you, even if we just recently met. 

Berkeley’s goodness also stemmed from life-changing opportunities that allowed me to grow into the better, stronger person I’ve always wanted to become. But I’ve become this person in a new reality, and it’s one I’ll also have to leave behind.

This paper was one of those opportunities. At The Daily Californian, I had the unforgettable privilege to interview incredible people and vulnerably share my story. Most significantly, I found the news department and a wonderful team of people I am so proud of. 

I found what has truly become my home. 

To everyone who made that possible, every single staffer (and most significantly, my newsies), thank you for giving me a space to be me. You make my heart a puddle and bring me as close to true happiness as I’ll ever get.

At the end of every day, I come home to my co-op, a place I feel truly comfortable and where I learned what it means to be a part of, contribute to and be supported by a community. To everyone from Sherman Hall, past and present, I have loved living with you. Thank you for making our house a home.

I had no idea what to expect when I first moved here, but I never imagined that it could be as good as this. 

I don’t want to part ways with the life I’ve created here. If given the choice to pause time, I’d stay. I’d choose this life because, despite the lows, I’m truly the most content I’ve ever been.

But it’s time to move on. The lasts just keep coming: last class, last time seeing a friend, last staff meeting, last article, last house dinner, last month and last column. 

It’s time to go, in a way that is profoundly sad and profoundly happy all at the same time. 

I think I’m most grateful for that, though — the confusion about whether leaving is good or bad, the hesitation and heartache I feel about it and all the lasts. I am truly the luckiest girl in the world to have lived in a place, met people and experienced a life so good that it’s hard to leave.

So, goodbye, Berkeley. Thank you for everything, for making me a better person and for making me feel the closest to good I’ve ever felt. 

And hello: To whatever’s next — may you be as good as this. 

I’m ready for you.

“Off the Beat” columns are written by Daily Cal staff members separate from the semester’s regular opinion columnists. Contact the opinion desk at [email protected] or follow us on Twitter @dailycalopinion.