I don’t know why I thought writing this would be easy, or why I thought it would resemble the same process of all my past Daily pieces. I thought I would make my short trek to the Law Quad, bask in solitude with a carefully curated, mood-setting playlist and dedicate two hours to pouring my heart onto paper. In my head, it should have been that seamless. Automatic almost, or at the very least, a well-rehearsed routine, considering how integrated the Daily became in my life.
Instead, writing this article has been quite the opposite. For the last five days, I’ve started to write, then stopped, then started again, drilling into all corners of my consciousness to find some profound yet understandable way to articulate my feelings about graduating. And yet, I found nothing, just blockage. And the thought that writing my final column for the Statement section — my home, my child, my haven wrapped in one — would be easy, was admittedly naive.
Yet for some reason, I’m not surprised. I’ve been feeling this way for quite some time now: a stoic limbo of mixed emotions, as if everything in my life is ending and starting all at once, leading to a catastrophic explosion of numbness. My world is changing right in front of my eyes: My college friends and I are leaving the city we spent the last four years making our own, moving to different corners of the country in hopes of starting our capital-A ‘Adult life.’ Family members are getting married, my childhood house is on the brink of being sold. The weekdays of classes and extracurriculars are soon to be replaced by a nine to five (or six? maybe seven?) job.
And yet, altered they may be, each facet of my life will carry on without me, all morphing into someone else’s.
Ann Arbor will remain relatively unchanged by my departure, destined for an annual influx of new students. In fact, its functionality will be virtually unchanged, completely unbothered. The University will continue to be the maize and blue, work-hard-play-hard, Leaders and Best institution it prides itself on. Football games will still happen every weekend in the same rowdy Big House, with parties in driveways I once frequented every Saturday still filled to the brim with excitedly inebriated students. Pizza House will still be open late into the night, Revive will still have weird hours and the Law Library will still close its doors to undergraduate students at 6 p.m.
My freshman year dorm room will be filled with four brand new bright-eyed students — they will quickly learn the joys, trials and tribulations of sharing a sleeping space with three other people. My senior year home will be transferred over to the next set of tenants — sophomore frat boys, if I remember correctly — and the legacy that my four best friends and I curated for our little blue house will soon be forgotten. Even so, I’m confident the love we gave and memories we created, be it our affinity for cabbage guacamole or our unique and often overused vernacular, will be sealed into the foundations of its walls.
My two chosen student organizations, The Michigan Daily and the Michigan Fashion Media Summit (MFMS) will persist as campus trailblazers, fully stocked with eager, intelligent undergraduates ready to lead. Both organizations were crucial to my college experience, and yet, my time with each of them is already up: I wrote my goodbye to the Daily this past December, and caught a glimpse over the last few months of just how seamlessly something I love can function without me a part of it. I finished all that was needed for my role as Vice President of Digital for the MFMS when the day of our annual Summit concluded.
Two hours after the Summit was over, I left for the airport to go to Nashville. I was on the plane when the idea hit me: I will be passing on all I worked to make my own to someone else, someone ready to assume the responsibility and impact of implementing new innovations. It feels weird to say that it was a difficult reality to confront, ushering in the thought that my attachment to everything might purely be out of self-interest. Maybe my work at the Daily was more about earning a Managing Editor position and having a staff of writers to direct than it was about being a part of a self-sustaining paper. Maybe every role I applied for was more about satisfying my ego than contributing to something I love.
And in entertaining these ideas, I found myself slipping deeper and deeper into clouded, intrusive judgment on how the best is all behind me, how I will be forgotten, how I should have held on tighter to my time here while it was still in the palm of my hand.
Thankfully, in that very plane seat, I quickly realized how distorted my outlook was. Seeking a change in perspective, I forced myself to ruminate on the positives of the day, the past month, the past year, the past four. I immediately was drawn to the things I accomplished with my respective teams by my side, the beauty in the friendships I made, the tangible, inventive products we delivered.
For the Daily, I daydreamed of my start as a Statement Columnist, my first interview with former Statement Managing Editor Maggie Mihaylova, who quickly became my mentor. I dreamt of the day I was voted on to be Managing Statement Editor in December of 2020. My heart grew fonder when remembering how scared yet invigorated I was for the time ahead, how much pride I felt in people trusting me to lead, how heavy the weight of responsibility felt in making sure I got it right.
I thought of the two years of hiring and working closely with remarkably talented writers, editors and designers, getting to know their amazing, thoughtful, wonderful brains as well as I could. My eyes widened at the realization of just how many Daily staffers I’ve watched grow, assuming their own leadership positions, eventually succeeding me.
I grew teary in remembering one particular moment, a memory I will forever cherish. As I was leaving the Michigan Daily Newsroom after saying my Senior Goodbye, I was stopped by Statement’s Associate Editor at the time, Julia Maloney. Julia was a sophomore who had not held a position with the Statement before coming onto the team in the fall, yet showed a unique promise, intellect and enthusiasm from the second we first spoke. After a semester of working together, I felt extremely close to her — she was a younger, taller work sister who held her own in a room of seasoned vets. At that moment, she tapped my shoulder and pulled me in for a hug. Through tears, Julia began telling me how much of an impact the editor role had on her, how valuable of a mentor I was for her, how much she looked up to me.
Little in my life has meant as much to me as that moment. And in reminiscing on it, I realized: Yes, I was watching something that was once mine become someone else’s, but there was so much beauty in its passing.
Students I knew from the start of their time at University were coming into their own and leading with innovation, strength, creativity and grace. They were following the road I paved for them, and forging their own path in the process. How lucky am I to get to experience that transition?
So yes, I will be moving on from parts of my life that I once considered all-encompassing and defining, but this cycle of entering, giving away and leaving is a life-defining process in and of itself. We will always have something that we make our own before it tackles new iterations, new paths beyond our discretions. Friends near and dear to your heart will move and find new people to spend their days with, old lovers will find new partners, old jobs will be filled with new candidates, old homes will be filled with new families to make a life in. And that’s okay.
Because maybe, it’s not about me, or you, or any of us at all. We must decenter ourselves from the places and people we hold close to our hearts — not in a way that diminishes our impact, provoking anxiety and rendering ourselves obsolete. Instead, we must understand that the elements of life we care so deeply about, the things we devote so much time to, have marks eternally made on them, our experiences forever embedded into the fabric of their evolution. Nothing, not even a graduation, can change that.
If something was once ours, even for a moment, we never really lose it. The memories we have may grow fuzzy, yet the feelings they offered us will last forever. The same premise applies to what we offered them.
There’s a warmth in that understanding, a gratification in knowing that what we do is far bigger than we can conceptualize, reaching places we will never know, perhaps in the budding ambition of a sophomore Associate Editor. And though graduation fosters a stoic limbo of mixed emotions — as if everything in my life is ending and starting all at once — the catastrophic explosion has morphed into one of contentment rather than numbness.
Life is a series of finding things, making them yours and letting them go. I am ready to let my past four years go, knowing that I am moving forward in starting the endless cycle over again.
Statement Contributor Andie Horowitz can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.