I looked around the semi-crowded center as the day was coming to a close. My friends and I had happened upon a conference in New York, which focused on what it means to lead a balanced life in the 21st century, and more pertinently, what it means to be burnt out, overdependent on your technology and stressed to the point of health degradation. For three college students in the final stretch of college, this event could not have taken place at a better time.
Amid the plethora of speakers who graced the stage, one struck me in particular. Brad Meltzer, a writer, recounted a story about his English teacher in ninth grade. She was the first person to have ever told him that he had a voice and he could actually write.
So years later, when Meltzer’s first book was published, he made a point to go back to her classroom, find her, and tell her that his book was for her. He told us how she began to cry, and said that she had planned to retire this year because she feared she was not making an impact in her students’ lives.
He told this story, because he wanted to illustrate that our legacy stretches far beyond ourselves, and our contributions to someone’s life, to someone’s passions and goals, might never become apparent to us. As time passed, a friend attempted to write Meltzer’s fake obituary of his life thus far. His friend never finished it, and the last line read: “He was a… ”
After he exited the stage, I thought about my time, our time, at Boston University. So, in lieu of a morbid obituary, I think about our legacy. Our legacy as seniors, and the legacy we have ahead of us as we go our separate ways.
The Class of 2014 was born in September 2010. Over the past four years of its life, it has seen students excel at their chosen crafts, and ascend to the leadership roles they worked tirelessly to achieve. It held disappointments from time to time, and there was no shortage of days where the balancing act came precariously close to toppling over completely. When I think about what our legacy is, as seniors, I think about the future students we inspired, the diversity of the peers we had the opportunity to look to in times of revelation, in times of self-doubt, and in times of triumph. The Class of 2014 came to an end in May 2014.
The hardest question I have grappled with in my four years with regard to this column is what I wanted to leave behind. I started this, well, experiment, four years ago. It’s a constant that has taken me from Boston to Washington, D.C. and back again. Most find that they’ve changed their perspective on the world through discussions. I saw myself evolving through my writing, and so did anyone who cared to read what I had to say. What I hoped for this space in The Daily Free Press was for it to be a snapshot, every week, of how no matter where something happens in the world, it is connected to every single person who reads about it. Whether it was a parallel between a mourning mother in Iran and the Boston Marathon, elections in India and national security, or Cleopatra and free speech, I will never forget the honor and the privilege I was afforded to be able to speak my mind in my cherished space on those crisp, newspaper pages.
Cassandra Clare once said, “Every meeting led to a parting, and so it would, as long as life was mortal. In every meeting there was some of the sorrow of parting, but in everything parting there was some of the joy of meeting as well.”
In a preservation of my emotions and my heart, I will look at Boston University, and this space, as the promise of a brighter meeting in the wake of such a deep parting.
This lack of finality is only helped by the excitement of the unknown. For many of us, this is the first time in life where many of us do not know for certain what life holds. And for so many of the stories I got to recount, their conclusion is still undetermined. We do not know for certain what impact the situation in Crimea and Ukraine will have on present day international politics. We do not know exactly when policy-makers will decide to act decisively on climate change. I do not know whether my words inspired even one person to log onto their computers and read more about the huge, beautiful world around him or her.
What I do know, however, is that I am fortunate enough to say that in the near future, I will be graduating with two undergraduate degrees. What I do know, is that without the support of my generous family, I would not have the opportunity to take advantage of the adventures Boston afforded me. Had I not been allowed the opportunity to study abroad in two amazing cities, I would never have encountered some amazing people, especially one who has come to know me better than anyone else on Earth. What I do know, is that whenever I wrote about countries where people had no food, where people could not step out of their houses in fear of never returning, I always took a breath to reflect on how my fortune — our fortune — is still so exceptional despite the strides our world has taken to become a better place for its future tenants.
Uncertainty, as with many concepts in life, has two sides. On one, I am launching myself into the unknown, not sure when I will see the second family I cultivated at BU and at this very newspaper. On the other hand, I am filled with excitement, optimism and gratitude that I enter the real world as an alumna of The Daily Free Press and Boston University, and I will always be thankful to both for the person I am today, and aspire to be tomorrow.
Sofiya Mahdi is a senior in the College of Arts and Sciences and a former managing editor at The Daily Free Press. She can be reached at [email protected].