riley
Photo: Ilana Wurman / The Daily Pennsylvanian

This is the hardest article I have ever had to write.

I always assumed my senior column would be easy to create. After all, I've been responsible for a lot of stories for The Daily Pennsylvanian, and while not every single one of those was a beautiful and free-flowing journalistic masterpiece, writing is something that has always come easy to me.

I always assumed my senior column would be easy to compose. After all, I've never been short on things to say.

I always assumed my senior column would be easy to write. But I guess I just forgot how hard it is to say goodbye.

In 21 years, saying goodbye has become commonplace, as I've moved everywhere from Iowa to Ohio to Switzerland to Puerto Rico. Unfortunately, that doesn't make saying goodbye to the DP — and everyone who made my time here enjoyable — any easier.

At this point, however, I'm prepared to graduate having become acutely aware of a handful of lessons throughout my four years at this company, lessons that transcend the difficulty of leaving Penn behind.

Most importantly, my work within DPOSTM — the DP's Only Section That Matters — taught me that you never need to know all of the answers. Because you know what truly makes a good reporter? A knack for learning.

Since my freshman year, I've become increasingly confident in interviewing subjects for my articles. Over time, it became clear that I was good enough on my feet that there was no need to script out questions. I learned that writing about someone should involve a legitimate conversation with that person, and the best type of journalist is one who does not know exactly where his piece is going when he sets out to write it.

Among a handful of different organizations and people in my life, the DP has also taught me what true happiness is like.

As I prepare to graduate, I have no earthly idea what I will be doing three weeks, three months or three years from now. There's no particular job or additional degree on the horizon at the moment.

Undoubtedly, the pressures at Penn have taught us that we should fear this unknown future, that chaos after four years at a prestigious Ivy League institution is taboo.

But whenever I get bogged down worrying about what lies beyond the familiarity of Locust Walk or the offices at 4015 Walnut, I'm reminded of a certain comic strip made famous by a world-class Sudoku finisher. When Charlie Brown asks Linus if he ever thinks about what he wants to be when he grows up, the latter is concise, yet clear. "Outrageously happy," he says.

Ultimately, my time with DPOSTM has demonstrated that no matter how sober, how underpaid or how stressed I ever was, a job is nothing but a blessing when surrounded by truly remarkable people. It is those individuals — and many others — to whom I owe a great deal of thanks.

Mike Tony, John Phillips and Ian Wenik: Thanks for establishing a standard within DPOSTM to which I continue to and forever will hold myself.

Alexis: Thanks for sticking around and being my rock in so many ways. Thanks for anchoring the Bro Line. Oh, and sorry I gave you mono.

Ilana: Thanks for making DPOSTM better than it has ever been in more ways than one. And for DHRUV!

Bea: Thanks for constructing the path upon which I somehow managed to become a formidable writer. Who knew?

Matt, Amanda and Genesis: Thanks for being there when I needed you, and for caring about the DP varying amounts at exactly the appropriate times.

LCL: Thanks for making the end equally as fun as the beginning. I couldn't have gotten through all of this without you.

Books: Thanks for Cincy, Bruce and so much more. Carol knows. And don't worry: It gets easier.

Friars: Thanks for making a one-time athlete feel like something special again. And thank you for opening up my eyes to the life of student-athletes more times than I could count, helping me become a better senior sports editor along the way. Especially you, Hitti and Xinny.

Colin: Thanks for taking a chance on me when you didn't have to. I hope it paid off. Respect ... and love for you brother.

Laine: Thanks for keeping me grounded. You're the best pure person in that office and I'm glad we got the chance to work together.

Steven: Thanks for the beginning. And for the 130. We've come a long way. Dual byline forever.

Holden: There aren't enough words, so I'll just say this: Thanks for being the only ten I see. And I love you like Kanye loves Kanye.

Munson, Nowlan, Memes, Anna and all my other writers: Thanks for making every day as senior sports worth it. Thanks for meshing together in the melting pot that is DPOSTM. Just remember: One day, I'll be living in a big old city ... and I'll never forget any of you.

When I interviewed former Penn football coach Al Bagnoli before his final home game with the Quakers in 2014, he gave me a quote that symbolized what he thought he meant to his program. Little did he know I would end up re-appropriating his words to describe my own relationship with the DP.

"To be in one place for 23 years, it's somewhat unusual, but I've loved it and I'd like to think we've had more good moments than bad," he said. "We're all caretakers to a program that is over 130 years old, and the seniors and I are happy to pass it on to the next guys."

Ditto. I've had myriad titles while with the DP — associate, editor, senior sports editor, photographer, etc. — but given that I'm passing off something that is also over 130 years old, I couldn't ask to leave DPOSTM as anything different than what I have been for a long time.

Caretaker.

RILEY DARREL STEELE is a senior in the College from Dorado, Puerto Rico, majoring in political science and communication. He is a former sports editor and senior sports editor at The Daily Pennsylvanian. He is hoping to pursue a career (for now) in political consulting.

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