To me, in so many ways, I’m still 18 years old. I’ve just moved into Bell Tower, and I’ve arrived at my first college class a full 60 minutes early because I was terrified that I was somehow going to be late.
Murphy’s Law, I guess. If anything can go wrong, it will. I built in extra time to do every single task that was required of me, because of any number of things that might be. There might be traffic, I might not be able to find it, I might forget my notebook—you name it, and I probably thought of it. I lived a lot of my time at Duke wondering when and where the next thing would go wrong.
But what if everything went right?
Junior fall was maybe my darkest time in Durham. My mind could not get out of its own way, always wanting something extra. Extra time, extra academic success, extra social life, extra everything. I’d started a company the summer after my sophomore year with the goal of solving the student loan crisis.
Yep, the kid at 20 years old, living in the pandemic, was going to take on the government and a system that has been in place for decades.
What the hell was I thinking?
I’ll tell you what that summer and fall was, and what it wasn’t. My dark time was born of undiagnosed anxiety, something that my parents would likely tell you I’ve had since I was fourteen. It ruled my life, making me always worried that I wasn’t doing or achieving enough. I wanted the company, the internship, the grades and anything else that could fit on a single sheet, Times New Roman, 10.5 point font, embellished with words like “ideation” and terms like “deep-dive analysis.” What it wasn’t, was futile.
Working on that company, I spent an entire summer and fall living and working with one of my best friends. We’ll likely live together in New York in the fall.
Everything that I’ve done here at Duke, I’ve had to reframe for myself. I met some of the most amazing, driven and caring people I’ve ever known. I’ve created memories and relationships I’ll never forget—not all of them good, but all of them molding me into the person I am today.
And I’m damn proud of that guy.
The person that moves out of Durham for perhaps the final time in just a few weeks would be completely unrecognizable to freshman year me. Frankly, they’re two completely different people. Sure, the 2022 version might be a few pounds heavier and a little less studious, but this version enters into commitments not worried about what might go wrong, but everything that could possibly go right.
I’m still me. I still get to events ridiculously early.
But now, it’s because I’m excited at the prospects of the people that every new day will bring me into contact with. The ones that have touched my life at Duke are too plentiful to name.
I thought of writing about my time with the Chronicle, but spending 700 words talking about the fun I’ve had covering football for three years, or traveling to Las Vegas to write as Duke took on Gonzaga this past year seemed almost disingenuous.
This newspaper, for me, has never been about writing, as weird as it seems. I didn’t pick up many pieces outside of the ones I directly wished to do. I’ve expressed some of my most inspired thoughts through my words in this publication, but what this paper, and this place, has always been about to me?
And as I leave Duke, that is something I wish I had extra time for.
Cameron Polo is a Trinity senior and has had the good fortune to be an associate editor for the sports department for four years.
He’d like to thank his Mom, for teaching him how to be early for everything, and his Dad, for teaching him to not worry about things that are outside of his control going wrong—and that occasionally, things even work out the way they’re supposed to.
He’d also like to thank Duke, for everyone he’s met along the way.
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