I hate goodbyes. I avoid them at all costs — not only because they’re sad, but because there’s always the chance for the past to resurface. So I tend to leave things over unofficially, in case I need to come back to them. This time is different.

I have to close this door. My undergrad years are over — forever — and I really don’t know how to feel about it.

I’ve had quite the ride at Plattsburgh State. I came here freshman year not knowing a single person. I wanted to be as far away from the city as possible and start completely anew. To this day, I have no idea what exactly I was running from, but, honestly, it doesn’t even matter. What I found here, I wouldn’t trade for the world.

When I came here, I was so unhappy. I had the hardest time connecting with anyone. I felt different in every way possible, even though there are so many students here from the city, just like me. I was the kind of girl who went to class and then hid in my room, even when my floor-mates invited me to hang out. I tried the party scene a few times and just didn’t like it. After a while, my friends back home adapted to their new lives at community college. The more days I spent without them, the more I felt forgotten. I was worried I had made a huge mistake coming here. I thought about transferring, but I knew I did not really give PSUC a chance, and I feared I’d one day regret leaving without trying.

Staying here was the best decision I have made thus far. Each year I have spent here, I have become more outgoing. I am still introverted as f—, but I’m more comfortable in my own skin. I learned how to be alone without feeling lonely. While I was never a member of any of the awesome clubs on campus, I’m happy I found a place where I belong.

My junior year, I joined the newspaper as a staff writer for the opinions section. I thought, ‘It’s just opinions, how hard could it be?’ But I struggled with finding my voice, probably because I had stopped using it for so long. That same semester, I had an internship where I got to work closely with three other students. I fell in love with multimedia there, and one of those students just so happened to be running for web editor. I asked if he needed an associate, and that was my gateway into the editing world. I finally had a purpose. Brian, thank you so much for believing in me and encouraging me. No matter how much food I buy you, I feel like I can never repay you enough.

There are so many memories I have acquired here on the paper, whether with my super amazing team that I don’t know what I’d do without or through all the sources I interviewed. I remember every single one of you, and it was incredible to be able to share all of your stories. And to my teachers, thank you for giving me the greatest gift: my education. Because of all of you, I am confident that I will succeed. You do so much to make sure all of your students get the most experience they can. You truly make this program stand out from the rest.

While I can’t wait to see what’s in store for me after Plattsburgh, it holds such a special place in my heart. All the things I used to hate about it, I will miss. I now appreciate all that alone time because I learned so much about myself. It’s both a relief and a burden to know that it’s possible to change yourself, and it’s hard getting the courage to actually do so. But it’s worth it. Plattsburgh taught me to take chances, to bet on myself and that I seriously need to stop procrastinating. Most importantly, I learned to trust my journey, even when it seems impossible. Thank you for all the lessons, Plattsburgh, but it is time to say goodbye.

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<a href="http://cardinalpointsonline.com/byline/amanda-velez/" rel="tag">Amanda Velez</a>