“LEAVE AND NEVER RETURN.” I would read those four words every day as I exited 4015 Walnut. Yet every day, I always returned.
Being on the Daily Pennsylvanian board is easily the biggest time commitment I have ever had in college. Thirty hours a week were spent at the office, running around making sure that the paper came out the next morning. I loved every minute of it.
The DP gave me what a lot of college students look for: a purpose. I was known as the “DP person” to my friends, and they knew better than to invite me to do things Sunday through Thursday — I would be at the DP. My schedule, thoughts and actions revolved around the paper. It became a part of my identity.
One year later, and it was over. I didn’t run for another position. I didn’t return to my department. No more late nights at the office. No more bitch fests about how much working there sucks. No more stressing out at 1:20 a.m. because the paper still wasn’t finished. No more staying up til 7 a.m. finishing an essay. It was liberating!
You see, a large part of me didn’t want to give it up. It had become an essential part of me, and not having somewhere automatically to go every night made me feel a bit empty inside. I had nowhere that I belonged. I had given so much of my college life to the DP. If I wasn’t the “DP person,” who was I?
So I joined the design team. I told myself that I wanted to learn something new, expand my horizons. I would come in once a week for four hours and relive the late night mayhem, telling myself that I was still part of the paper. I just couldn’t let it go.
This semester was when I finally realized that I couldn’t be a part of it anymore. It just ... wasn’t the same. I had gotten as much as I could to do this paper. It was a chapter in my life that needed to close.
So why am I going through this pathetic attachment I had to my college paper? Because it’s the same pathetic attachment I have to Penn. Graduation looms and as much as I like to kid that I’m emotionless, the thought of leaving terrifies me. As messed up as Penn is, it’s home. Every time I left for the summer, I knew that I would always have Penn to come back to. Back to studying, back to working, back to partying. At the end of this summer, that promise is not there anymore. It’s a big blank with a crushing weight that seems to grow heavier with each, “So what are you doing after the summer?”
But I’ve come to accept that it’s OK. It’s OK not having a “purpose.” It’s OK to have the future dangling. While half of me aches to cling onto my student life, the other half knows that it’s time to close this chapter, too. Of course, moving on doesn’t mean I can never return — but for now, it’s time to let go.
Here’s to all of the people who made letting go even harder:
131 Copy: Thanks for making being a boss that much easier. You’re the reason why I didn’t dread going into the office every day.
Genesis and Matt: Thanks for leading by example and supporting me when I couldn’t support myself. (Also thanks Genesis for our weekly lunches/ rants).
Joey, Michael and Hannah: Thanks for dealing with my shit and always being down to hang out. Cash me ousside how bow dah?? (And let’s watch Survivor).
LCL: We will always have the Large.
Katie: Thanks for not being scared away when you first met me. College would not have been the same without you (and Copa nachos.)
Rachel and Lisa: Thanks for nothing (except for your couch, Rachel.) See you this summer.
Tiffany: Thanks for being my rock, my ally and my closest friend. I honestly wouldn’t have been able to make it through any of this without you.
My mom: Thanks for being you. I don’t thank you enough and I probably seem like the most ungrateful child, but every goal I’ve reached was for and because of you. There is absolutely no way to repay you.
Penn: Thank you. I’m ready to move on.
PAOLA RUANO is a College senior from San Diego, Calif., studying communication. She served as the head copy editor for the 131st board. Previously, she was a design associate and a copy associate.