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Tonight I tried to remember what it’s like to have fun.

Okay, I’m over-dramatizing if I say I never have fun. But I can’t remember what it’s like to have a life that revolves around fun. And relaxation. And friends who aren’t also your coworkers.

In broad strokes, the upsides of my life are more about professional satisfaction and comma-splice victories and complimentary letters to the editor than they are about that particular brand of carefree good times most college students have mastered.

These days, my life blurs together, because it all happens in the same places. Walker Hall. Anne Belk Hall. Office. Library. Repeat.

And then there’re my friends – the ones from before, who don’t have the words The and Appalachian on their resume. Sometimes I almost forget what they look like. I miss them every day, but all that missing gets buried under a pile of work and I forget to integrate them into my daily life. I’m not sure I know how anymore.

Sometimes, on nights like this one, when even my friends’ drunk-dials turn into pitches for the opinion page (Meghan, can we write a point – counter point on snuggies? PLEASE Meghan?) I wonder what it would’ve been like to be a normal college senior. What if I’d spent Monday nights on King Street instead of the student publications suite? What if I’d spent lazy Saturdays on the Parkway surrounded by familiar, worn-in friendships?

But even when I wish those things, I still frame them like this – I wish I could’ve been a different person. I wish I could’ve been the kind of person who knows how to live a life like that.

When it all comes down to it, I never would’ve chosen a different path for the last two years of my life.

It has not been perfect. I’m not unaware of the fact that I love this tiny publication too much. My standards – for my coworkers, for my employees and for myself – have been far too high. Often, I don’t live up to my own standards, which I’m sure is frustrating for the other people who’ve seen my rules imposed on their lives.

It has been heartbreaking and stressful and miserable and mind-blowingly difficult. And I would do it all again.

Because in the end – in the end, it always strengthens me. It’s always more than worth it.

It’s both a blessing and a curse to have found this much passion for something so early in my life. It’s not just The Appalachian that I love, and it’s not just the people. It’s every little piece of it, the words and the ideas and the principles and yes, even the pressure.

It’s comforting to know that for the rest of my life, no matter what happens, I’ll always have this.

“If you haven’t found it yet, keep looking. Don’t settle. As with all matters of the heart, you’ll know when you find it. And, like any great relationship, it just gets better and better as the years roll on.” 

-Steve Jobs