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What you don’t see coming

| Friday, May 13, 2022

If you told me three years ago I’d be writing a commencement column for The Observer, I would have laughed in your face. Me, writing for public consumption? Being perceived by the general public? Absolutely not! Yet, here we are — the last place I imagined myself finding a home at Notre Dame, and now, my hardest goodbye. 

As a general rule of thumb, I like to know what to expect in life, and I like to know what’s coming my way. I’m an anxious person, and I always want to know what’s in my future. But life doesn’t always give you a heads up when things are happening, and three years ago, I didn’t see The Observer coming.

I joined The Observer as a copyeditor for Viewpoint, looking to join a low-commitment activity that had a small paycheck. That “low-commitment activity” lasted all of one semester before I threw myself into this organization head first and never looked back.

I joined the 2020-2021 Editorial Board as a nervous sophomore who had no journalistic experience and one semester of copyediting experience. I felt deeply out of my depth, and was scared that the rest of the board would soon realize I was a fraud who somehow ended up leading a department. Instead, I found a group of journalists and leaders who were willing to learn alongside me, and who taught me how to be a better writer, leader, editor and friend. I became better for knowing all of them and learning from their examples. 

And even after that year, I thought that I knew what to expect in my next year. I would do another year as Viewpoint Editor, since that’s what I loved. But when Adri asked me to join her Top Five, I knew I had to say yes even though I didn’t plan on being AME. And then, yet again, suddenly I was deep in unfamiliar territory with no idea what I was doing or what to expect.

But, guess what? It was okay. I survived the year, and I had a blast doing it. I made some of the best friends of my life, honed new skills and grew in ways that I never thought possible for myself. So, maybe it’s okay to not always be prepared. Maybe it’s okay to just go with the flow (even if you historically don’t do well with “the flow”). 

Maybe the best things in life are the things you never see coming. 

And the biggest thing I never saw coming? The people I met along the way. So here’s the cheesy, yet expected, part of the column where I try to thank everyone I can think of, while inevitably forgetting about so many people who have made an indelible impression on my life.

To the 2020-2021 Editorial Board, thanks for letting me learn on the job and being a support system for the most chaotic year imaginable. You all did an amazing job and I am better for having worked alongside you. 

Thank you to Viewpoint for welcoming me with open arms, and to Evy, for having confidence in me to be an editor when I didn’t know anything. Thank you to Tom for talking to me on Wednesday night production shifts and making me feel like I could be part of the special little community in a basement office. Thank you to Mia and Ryan for giving me a community when I needed it, and making me laugh through the chaos of 2020. You made me feel like I could do my job, even when I didn’t think I could. Thank you to Serena for literally picking me up when I fell down, and thank you to the Little Women — Maria, Mariah, Claire, Maeve and Sara — you trusted me and stood with me throughout that year, and it’s made me the leader I am today. 

Thank you to Alysa for telling me how to write staff reports and Manni for not making (too much) fun of me for forgetting sports terms. Thank you to Abby for always sharing your inbox with me, and to Allison for all the office gossip chats. Thank you to the 2021-2022 Editorial Board for letting me make terrible jokes during our meetings — I lived for our Sundays together. Thank you to our production workers for not complaining when I play the same eight songs over and over again, and for always being willing to swap stories during late nights. 

The biggest thank you goes to my Top Five — Adri, Evan, Issy and Colin. I love you all more than words can express, and you mean the absolute world to me. I have never felt less lonely than when I am with you. You embraced all of my sharp edges and abrasive angles and never asked me to be less than my all, and for that, I can never thank you enough. I never expected to be making new friends senior year, let alone making friendships that I know will last a lifetime. I cannot fathom being without you four, and I am so grateful to have found friends that are so difficult to say goodbye to. Thank you for loving me. I love you.

When I first joined the editorial board, I always told myself that I wouldn’t write a cheesy thank you letter for my commencement column, and would have some clever words of wisdom to put to paper instead, but in the end, I can’t help but feel overwhelmingly thankful for the past four years and the time I’ve had at The Observer. I am so grateful to have been swept off my feet by this community of journalists and experienced the love, compassion and service in the basement of South Dining Hall. I love you. 

Nelisha Silva will be graduating from the University of Notre Dame with majors in English and Global Affairs, and a minor in the Hesburgh Program in Public Service. After graduating, she’ll be working on a Senate campaign in her hometown of Las Vegas, Nevada and spend her free time reading books in the sun. Forever a purple weasel, she’s excited to begin her descent into becoming a passionate alumnae who can’t seem to let go of her college days. Contact her at [email protected] with any questions, book recommendations or nostalgic recollections.

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

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About Nelisha Silva

Originally from Las Vegas, Nevada, Nelisha currently serves as an Assistant Managing Editor for The Observer. Previously, she served as Viewpoint Editor. You can usually find her reading books, doing crosswords or talking about being from Vegas.

Contact Nelisha