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Not a senior column

At first, I didn't want to write a senior column. I didn't want to cover issues of graduation and moving on. I didn't want to write about how much I've learned or all the great experiences I've had at Duke. It wasn't because I hadn't thought about it or didn't have anything to say. It wasn't because I didn't have any emotions. In fact, I had too many emotions and too much to say.

I didn't want to write anything because what I wrote would be, by definition, final. It would mean I had reached the end and acknowledged it.

Plainly, I was terrified. Scared that I'd get it wrong, that my lasting Duke legacy would be shaped by something I wasn't proud of.

I've often passed time sitting in the Chronicle office zoning out and trying to choose the perfect way to encapsulate my four years of Chronicle and Duke, searching for the ideal lede for this very column.

I've thought of clichés about why I came here, clichés about journalism and clichés about life. I've thought of telling how I was fond of sitting alone in the back of the Chronicle office, staring out a tiny, third-floor window at the stoic image of the Chapel, contemplating life. I've thought of stories about my dog, Raleigh-named after the explorer, not the city-and never dreaming she'd live to see me graduate.

None of these would suffice. It would be a disservice to all the people who have changed my life, for the better or worse, and all the life-changing experiences this University has given me.

And that's why I couldn't write a senior column. I haven't tried to put into words the grand message of college or tell the funny stories only my friends would understand. Sixteen hundred people I know are going through the same emotional roller coaster I am right now, reliving the good times, regretting the wasted and fearing the future.

They don't need me to tell them how we're supposed to have grown up and haven't. They don't need to read here a sob story about why I, through my detailed and deep experience at The Chronicle, am somehow better equipped than they are to share the bittersweet feelings of graduation.

If underclassmen want to know what it feels like, if you want to know whether we've realized that the rug is about to be pulled out from under us, I have. I know that, for the first time in my life, there is no pre-ordained next step.

What do other seniors feel like? I don't know and I don't want to ask. People ask all the time how senior year was or if we're ready to graduate, and we don't know how to answer that question. It usually ends up as a mixture of sappy clichés about not having any regrets and truisms about having no choice but to move on. There are too many experiences and too many ideas about the inspirational things I've seen and learned. Too many questions and not enough answers.

There is no theme or story that can begin to summarize my time at Duke, no way of retelling what has been important to me or why you should care. I hope every senior takes some time between now and graduation to think about exactly what their four years has meant to them and how they'll build on it and continue to grow once they enter the terrifying real world. I know I will, and maybe someday, I'll finally know my lede.

When my brother graduated from Duke in 2004, he lamented there weren't more people "who made fun of themselves." I'd like to thank Wayne Manor for being the most insecure, self-deprecating and entertaining group of friends I ever could have found. Thank you to The Chronicle for teaching me more-good and bad-than any class possibly could have. And thank you to Mike Krzyzewski for getting me out of the Northeast, involved The Chronicle and blacklisted from DBR.

Andrew Yaffe is a Trinity senior. He is a sports columnist, sports associate editor and former managing editor of the Chronicle.


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