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My best friend won’t let me say the G-word. The mention of May 17 will cause her eyes to swell up and eventually she releases a waterfall of tears while mumbling inaudible phrases resembling words that I think are supposed to be “friends” and “miss you.” Most of my attempts to stop her crying have failed. The only remedy that seems to work is turning on previously recorded episodes of Friends, which are playing nearly constantly on our television.

Most recently we were watching the episode entitled “The One With All the Poker,” in which Rachel, Phoebe and Monica try to learn the rules of the game. While staring at the screen, I realized that in my four years of college I have still not learned how to play poker. I have played many other card games — well, really just a lot of Kings — but I’ve never played a round of Texas hold ‘em.

Poker is a game of skill and concentration. Personally, if I’m going to gamble, I figure I might as well just go the simple route, perhaps play Blackjack or slots. However, it isn’t the specific game that interests me, so much as Penn students’ love of gambling. It provides the thrill of risk and the potential reward of a high payoff. Uncertainty mounts between each card that is dealt or each quarter placed in a slot.

However, for many seniors, the reason that we fear graduation is because of that same feeling: uncertainty. For the past 22 years, many of our lives have been carved out for us. We attended elementary, middle and high school and then were accepted to Penn where we spent the past four years cycling through New Student Orientation, winter breaks, Spring Fling and Hey Day. So why in some cases is uncertainty revered while in other times feared?

It’s about the risks involved and the choices taken. No one is forcing you to place a bet or wager more than you can risk losing, but Penn is telling us we’re ready to graduate and need to face the future. A diploma comes with no guarantees that your cards will be dealt well, and we all know the odds of a royal flush are slim.

Just as I have no real knowledge of poker, I also can’t offer much advice to seniors facing the unknown. The fact is I’m just another senior who is equally envious of those prospective students who have four fantastic years ahead. Honestly, I’m even a little jealous of all of the juniors who have one year left to cherish.

My plan now is just to use the next few weeks to continue to embrace these last moments of certainty. While I’m not certain that City Tap House will ever open before I graduate, I am certain that I can find Kenn Kweder at Smokes on Tuesdays, that I can play Quizzo at Blarney beforehand and that I can turn on a Friends episode at my house and at least one of my housemates will join me.

I’m also certain that graduation (I said it!) is a time to turn uncertainty into opportunity and experiment as individuals with different paths for our lives.

Thank you, Penn, for the guidance. Congratulations and best of luck to all of the seniors: I know you will all accomplish incredible feats with the cards you’re dealt.

Alissa Eisenberg is a College senior from Westfield, N.J. She is a former DP assignments editor. Her e-mail address is Alissa is going to work in strategic relations for an asset-management company.

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