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Wednesday, March 22, 2023

In about two weeks I'm going to graduate. It’s been an interesting four and a half years, filled with ups and downs, things I expected and others I never thought would. I didn’t think I’d end up at UF, but I sit here now and realize this was where I needed to be. I'm happy with how the last four and a half years transpired, and now I wait for the next.

This is my last column. There’s a host of things I should talk about— including but not limited to: life after graduation, everyone and everything I've been grateful for in college, following your passions/dreams/goals, how the real treasure was the friends I made along the way, et cetera. That’s a lot of topics (a lot of cliche topics, mind you) to cover.

Instead, I'm going to use this last column to talk about endings. As an English major and lover of stories, I value a good ending. People often talk about the beginnings of stories and trade favorite first lines. But rarely do we talk about the last lines. It’s easy to start; it’s harder to finish. I’ve started many books with promising beginnings, only to find unsatisfactory endings.

Summoning the feeling of the first weeks of freshman year is easy; one remembers anticipation, excitement, sticky Florida August air and silhouettes of Spanish-moss-covered trees. It felt like this was the start of something great, something wonderful. It's now the end of something great.

Often, we try to stick endings together with beginnings. This is the end of one thing, but the beginning of another. It's the end of my undergraduate years, but the beginning of my experience as an adult/graduate/student/corporate cog in our capitalist, consumeristic society.

I don’t like this. I think we ought to appreciate endings as they are. That we try to spin endings into positives reveals we have turned them into negatives. Endings are facets of life and contain a little bit of both. Maybe because of the human draw to create binaries for no reason, we regard endings as negative and beginnings as positive. The only time we want an ending is to something bad. We want good things to last. But everything ends — good and bad — so we should reevaluate how we perceive the end.

In my life, something is ending. Like the last lines of my favorite books, I'll remember it. The beginning started with hope, promise — the middle had twists and turns and yes, some dull parts, horrible parts and exciting parts — and now, we're on the last page. There's a tinge of sadness as we finish books and movies, as we finish life events, but we should appreciate they happened, that we got to experience them. Their impermanence is what makes these moments and parts of our lives special. The fact they end isn't something to mourn, but an integral part of life and humanity we should appreciate.

Petrana Radulovic is a UF English and computer science (super) senior. Her columns appeared on Fridays.

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