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Monday, October 25, 2021

"How lucky I am to have something that makes saying goodbye so hard.”

I have seen this quote from “Winnie the Pooh” used ad nauseam by my peers as they lament over closing this chapter of their lives with graduation just under two weeks away. To be honest, though, I don’t get it.

I remember hearing this same quote when I graduated from high school. It didn’t resonate with me then, either.

By the time senior year rolled around, I had gotten everything I could get out of high school. I had made great friends, I passed my IB exams and I got accepted into my dream college. I did everything I thought created the “typical” high school experience such as going to some parties and sneaking out a few times (Sorry, mom and dad.)By June 3, 2015, I didn’t find it hard to say goodbye. I was ready to start a new chapter of my life.

Four years later, I find myself in the same position. Don’t get me wrong: I loved my time at UF, but I can confidently say I have outgrown Gainesville and I am ready to leave. I mean, isn’t that the point of college? Aren’t we supposed to grow into better versions of ourselves? Isn’t our time here supposed to help springboard us into the next part of our lives?

When I came to college, I had preconceived notions of what my college experience would be like. I couldn’t wait to join a sorority, I was dead set on going to law school and I was certain I would meet some dreamy frat boy who would fall in love with me over a game of beer pong.

In reality, I dropped out of my sorority my junior year, I nixed the whole law school plan when I started to study for the LSAT and I have definitely never fallen in love while standing on the sticky floor of a frat house.

Even though none of my original plans worked out, I am much happier with the path I did take. UF has served as a breeding ground for my intellectual development and personal growth. For that, I will always be thankful.

The skills I learned in my classes have helped me excel professionally and landed me my dream job in Washington D.C. I found my passion for politics and social justice, and The Alligator provided me with a space to share my voice. I met enough people to realize what I should, and should not, look for in friends, boyfriends and roommates. I shocked myself by training for and running a full marathon. I got to a point where I stopped caring about what other people thought of me and focused on what made me happy. I also learned some skills that probably won’t be applicable after May 4, like how to funnel a beer (Thanks, Caline.)

UF gave me some of the best years of my life and is the backdrop for many of my favorite memories. But, when I walk across the stage of the O’Connell Center in 12 days, I am not going to view it as a hard goodbye, but as an easy hello.

I will leave UF fully prepared to move 900 miles away to start my career without fear of failure. The lessons I learned in and out of the classroom gave me the confidence to succeed outside of the 352. I’m proud of the person I turned into on this campus and I’m ready to see what my next home has in store for me.

Abigail Miller is a journalism and political science senior. Her column appears on Mondays.

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Correction: The article was updated to reflect that graduation is in 12 days as of publication.

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