Amanda and the Feelings

It’s hard to find the words I need to express how I feel about leaving this newspaper and this school. Here’s a point in which words fall short, especially my own. So I’ll borrow from poets.

In “Church of the Broken Axe Handle,” Derrick Brown says: “Guard your heart minimally; security threat: beige. You can carry a knife and still trust everyone. Carry it in your mouth. Every time you open it we await the sharpening noise of worship.”

The greatest lesson I’ve learned here at UC Irvine is the value of being open. Open-minded. Open-hearted. Open to suggestion. Open to criticism. Open to change. Open to the incredible possibilities lying just outside our comfort zones, the ones that pull us further out into the open waters of what the world has to offer. At every step of the way, this school and the people here have challenged me to be unguarded, and I was rewarded every single time.

To all the communities I have found a home in, thank you for being the greatest prizes.

To InterVarsity, past and present: You guys were my first community at UCI, and I will never consider you anything but family. You are my brothers and sisters in life, and I am going to hold you all responsible for how amazing my college experience has been. Being your friend has been a dream. Thank you for your love, laughs, adventures and sing-a-longs.

To the LJ Department: Before I was your student, I didn’t believe there was anything I was exceptionally good at or meant to do. When I was your student, I found out I had been wrong. Thank you for giving me the chance to explore and learn. To all the friends I met here and to all the beloved classmates whose writing and drive and talent were an inspiration to me, I wish you all the best in the world. It’s been an honor to be your peer.

To the Drama Department: I like to describe my entrance into your world as “tripping and falling,” but I realize now that it was more gentle and loving than that: I was warmly welcomed and endlessly supported. Without all the people I’ve grown to love while attending classes and working on shows or just sitting in Cyber A, I would not be who I am now. Sincerely, thank you.

To Leah, Justine and Kelly (my beautiful roommates): You guys have made my last year in college absolutely perfect. From Disneyland trips to boba runs and all the name-calling and blanket forts in between, you guys have made home the greatest destination. When everything outside was falling apart, our apartment was the warm center of the world because that’s what you all made it.

And finally, to the staff of the New U: Here’s where I choke, here’s where words get a little shaky. For the last two years, you guys have enriched my life in ways I never imagined. As associate Features last year, I was given the beautiful chance to get to know a group of people who never ceased to amaze me. As managing editor this year, I was given the chance to help build a team that I wanted to spend the rest of my college experience with. And I must say, Greg and I did a damn good job at that. While last year took warming up to the idea of the New U family, this year effortlessly started off that way and I couldn’t be more thankful.

Everyone on this board is brilliant, talented, hilarious and sincerely good-hearted. I had no idea what kind of love I was getting into this year — I had no way of knowing how many late nights, Newport adventures, LA day trips or deep conversations I would end up having with these people.

I wish I could say something grand and sweeping about how this year solidified my journalistic drive, but the paradigm of my life-expectations shifted. I love this newspaper, but I can’t say I love journalism. Instead of totally breaking my spirit, the New U never ceased to remind me that I love people — truly, truly love them. I have astounding faith in humanity, and these people have some part in that. I won’t miss writing articles or doing pretty much anything else that fits under my job description, but part of me will always miss this exact configuration of people in this exact time in my life. I love them, plain and simple, and they’ve made me a better human being just through contact alone. So thank you, New U 2011-2012, for the endless laughter, the unyielding support, the tireless dedication and passion and for Big Sur, the ocean at night, pizza on life guard towers, late night IHOP dinners, and for everything else in between.

And now that my own words have run out, it’s back to the poets. In “Shut Up and Say Something,” Shane Koyczan offers some advice: “Come to this world armed with curiosity and amazement. Edit the unsent letters of life into a one word statement: yes.”