“What did you learn in school today?”

Prior to post-secondary education, this was the day-old question. My parents would ask it, and I would respond with some indiscernible utterings. However, my time at Duke has made me realize that my parents won’t always be there to ask me this question at times when I needed someone to. The onus was on me to live and learn and live and learn again, to fall and pick myself back up, some times immediately, some times it took a minute. It was never the small scrapes and bruises of life and reality that affected me, anyways. As a pre-med, I know that a little antiseptic, Neosporin, and a bandage go a long way. It was more so the situation that made you feel like your world was over, that your pre-med destiny was caput, that you were possibly average compared to your fellow peers because you don’t know what (insert some physical phenomenon researched by your peers) is. So ‘rents, what did I learn at school?

I came to Duke with the mindset of my self-developed One-One-One plan. The idea stemmed from Herman Cain’s 9-9-9, but it doesn’t deal with politics. Rather, it is the concept that One individual can contribute One thing to society to achieve One better world. I felt like I already set my contribution, to pursue a career in medicine. And while I am still working toward that goal, I realized that there is so much more that can be done in the mean time. I never would have thought that in the mean time my contribution would be photography and the documentary arts. And while I doubted myself along the way, I continued to hone my skills in these fields and looking back, I could not imagine my life without it. I am beyond thankful for The Chronicle for providing me an outlet to apply and contribute the skills I learned during my undergraduate career. I have gained invaluable experience in running a recognized publication and heading the photo department. I have been rewarded experiences like photographing President Obama and the basketball team at the White House and covering the past three bowl games.

I learned to live. Oh, how I learned to live and not sweat the small things because they will destroy you. Life is difficult enough even when you’re doing the right things, why make it anymore difficult? There will be things in life that money, grades and food points can’t fix. But it’s more important to worry about what you can change.

Above all, I have learned the value of friendship, perhaps later in the game than I would’ve hoped, but better late than never could never hold more truth. If there was one thing I could wish for everyone, it would be to have a good friend. My dad mentioned to me last year that he left college with just a handful of really good friends. Naturally, I perceived that my dad being the chess champion of his alma mater had a lot to do with this. But I really understood what he meant when I was able to distinguish true friends from friends and friends from acquaintances. It has always been a joke that I should write a book on the happenings of my life. Who knows, maybe one day I will. And if I do, I’ll have a chapter about the day I found a random lake to float in midday with one of my best friends. Another chapter on the spontaneous brunches and dinners with my other great friend. And maybe I’ll end with a chapter on the crazy shenanigans and sangria pitchers shared in Australia with another best friend. Crazy things happen, and I am blessed to have crazier friends there to support me and stay by my side through it all.

All in all, I learned a lot about myself during my time at Duke. And in leaving, I hope my fellow peers will do the same. I hope that everyone finds the confidence to strut with your head held high, because being yourself and being unique is sexy, and Duke has placed enough glass boxes around campus to make yourself aware of that. And maybe that was the point. Maybe they want you to in one, two, or three years, walk by Penn Pavilion (and West Union) and say I love the person staring back at me and not worry about what others think. As as a good friend once told me “let people be people and just be you.” Be you. Because there is no one else around to do that and the universe favors the increase of entropy, chaos. So be your own little chaotic mess, because scientific law supports it.

The last thing I will say is just a thank you. It’s an open thank you to so many people whom I’ve had interactions because I guarantee all of them have brought me to this point of understanding.

So what did I learn at school? College is a game of blood, sweat, tears, and beers. Lots and lots of beer. But my time has come to move on to wine.

Darbi Griffith is a Trinity Senior majoring in Biology/Premed, minoring in Music, and receiving a certificate in Documentary Studies. Last year, she served as Photo Editor for the Chronicle. She would like to thank her parents for their endless support and reminders that her bank account is getting low with no intention on adding funds; her sisters, Dylan and Daryl, for putting up with her favoritism (or lack there of) by our parents. Lastly, she would like to thank her amazing friends Sierra, Annalese, and Shameka for condoning her crazy, spontaneous ideas. She also begs that Coach K sign her tournament photo of Coach K hugging Quinn Cook (please!)