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Sunday, April 14, 2024
The Observer

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Learning to let go

Letting go of the familiar, the comfortable and the planned is never easy, but it's a necessary part of growth. It's about embracing change, welcoming the unknown and making peace with the fact that not everything is within our control. As I reflect on my senior year, I recognize that letting go is not about losing parts of myself but about evolving into who I am meant to become. It's a transition that all of us, at one point or another, must face, and it's particularly poignant as I stand on the precipice of my post-college life. 

As the end of senior year rapidly approaches, I have no choice but to come to terms with the fact that my life will look very different in a few months. The comfort of college will come to an end, and the reality of an uncertain adult life will hit hard. All the late-night study sessions that didn’t consist of much studying, stargazing by the lakes, grotto visits, football games, endless conversations with my best friends and so many more defining moments of my college experience will be let go of. Letting go of these small moments and graduating means stepping into a world where friendships might require more effort to maintain, where support systems are not always a dorm room away and where my people are less immediate, but not less significant. Letting go of the people and the place that have shaped me into who I am today will undoubtedly be one of the most difficult things I’ll have had to do thus far in my life. 

But the end of this chapter in my life marks the beginning of so many new adventures. Perhaps most importantly, I'm learning to let go of my younger self — the one who walked onto this campus four years ago full of expectations and uncertainties. This doesn't mean discarding the experiences and lessons that shaped me, but rather, acknowledging that I've outgrown certain aspects of my identity. It's an acknowledgment that growth often requires leaving parts of ourselves behind, not in forgetfulness, but in gratitude for how they've contributed to our journey. In letting go, we make space for new experiences, relationships and versions of ourselves. It's a process that doesn't end with college; it's a skill that we'll carry with us throughout our lives. For some, post-college will be moving to a new city, starting a new job or navigating the complexities and uncertainties of adult life. For me, I am staring at a completely blank slate (let’s hope that changes soon), and that’s both exciting and scary. Despite this, learning to let go and move forward is perhaps the most important lesson college has taught me. 

So, as I come to the end of my final column as an editorial board member, I realize that the act of letting go is perhaps the most fitting topic. Soon, I am letting go of The Observer. I will have to let go of late production nights, random technical issues and Sunday ed board meetings — the things I’ve known for so long. But that’s the journey. It is growing, reflecting and moving forward while holding all the memories made close to my heart. College was made for us to let go of. College is our time to find ourselves, but by ending, it is a reminder that we don’t have to hold on to who we are right now. For me, letting go of Notre Dame is my reminder that, in the midst of change, we can keep learning about ourselves and really discover who we are. So, thank you college for allowing me the time and space to grow into who I am now. Thank you for teaching me that I won’t always be the person I am today, with the people I have right now, and that’s okay.

You can contact Hannah at hhebda@nd.edu.

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