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Leaving behind an identity

| Friday, May 19, 2017

There are so many “lasts” in the final few weeks of senior year — each celebrated with commendable gusto and the appropriate amount of nostalgia, perhaps even watery eyes and wavery smiles. There are probably a few too many lasts: Notre Dame — as we are all well aware by this point — is a school of tradition, and with each tradition comes an opportunity to commemorate another ending; to recognize that we, the graduating seniors, will never partake in that particular tradition again as undergraduates.

All the lasts can be emotionally draining, and frankly, a little tiring.

But in this overwhelming onslaught of final occasions and last opportunities, there are some that stand out as distinct from the rest — simultaneously more meaningful and more difficult to process. While I don’t expect to be particularly broken up about my last dining hall meal, for example, I found myself uncharacteristically emotional as we filed out of the last senior class Mass, and I admit that I have been somewhat dreading the last night in the dorm, the place that has been my home for the past four years.

But the last that I find the strangest to take in is the one that I am faced with right now: this very column, which will be the last piece I write for The Observer.

Of course, it’s not just the column, but also what it signifies — with this article, I say goodbye to a three-year long obsession, and to all the people who have shared in this crazy obsession with me. Because working for The Observer really is an obsession — it’s choosing to write a story that you know few, if any, people will read instead of studying for that midterm you have the next day. It’s staying in on a Thursday night when it seems everyone else is going out to make sure Friday’s paper goes to print. It’s forfeiting sleep, sacrificing grades, foregoing anything resembling a normal routine — and all for a seemingly inexplicable reason: producing a paper that more frequently lines the recycling cans in the dining halls than is actually read by students.

Why do we do it? After three years here, I’m still not quite sure.

And yet, I couldn’t be happier that I chose to join The Observer my sophomore year, and that my fellow graduating Observer staff members were insane enough to stick it out by my side. Ask any of the other graduating seniors (or just read their columns on the surrounding pages of this Commencement edition), and I’m guessing they would say something similar. These are the most dedicated, committed, hard-working people that I have ever had the honor of knowing, and I find myself dragging out writing this column so that I can feel as if I am one of them for just a few minutes longer. There are few things that make me prouder than saying that I work for The Observer, and in leaving Notre Dame, I will also be leaving my identity as a writer for The Observer behind me.

So thanks to everyone in the office — graduating seniors and undergraduates alike — for these past few years. Thanks for putting up with my crazier side, for indulging my love for the “Pirates of the Caribbean” soundtrack and for listening to my bad jokes and pointless rants about writing style. Thanks for showing me what true dedication, commitment and teamwork looks like. Thanks for being some of the snazziest people with questionable sanity and severely deficient social lives at Notre Dame. Thanks for pushing me to my limits, and for allowing me to push you to yours.

And most importantly of all, thanks for making this last — this ultimate column and final goodbye — the hardest.

The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.

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