My goodbye to MSU

“Don’t cry because it’s over, smile because it happened.”

It’s debated whether Dr. Seuss was the one to originate this phrase, or if he said it at all, but these words have been playing in my head as I near the end of my college career.

I first heard this quote in middle school drama club from an eighth grader giving her graduation goodbye speech. We were all emotional to conclude our final performance of the Wizard of Oz, Jr., and cried on and off between hugging and eating pizza off paper plates at that banquet.

Those days were the beginning of my adolescent craving for college. I craved the opportunity to leave my North Dakota hometown where I’d spent most of my life. I needed to meet new people, to be an adult who studies things I want to study and to get far away from the restrictions of adolescence. I needed to explore, much to my parents’ horror, so I moved five hours away the first opportunity I had and set up camp in Mankato.

My college experience didn’t look like the fantasies that middle school drama kid had, and it didn’t look like my older sister’s pre-COVID college experience either.

Nevertheless, I’m grateful for the lessons I learned through these hard times. We all learned some hard truths about the world since the world shut down in 2020, about appreciating the simple things like seeing a stranger’s smile in a grocery store and attending an in-person graduation. When the ball dropped in Times Square to mark the beginning of 2020, none of us could have imagined the world would become deprived of human connection in the ways we were.

Despite masks and social distancing, I still managed to find some of the most genuine and important connections that I will cherish for the rest of my life, even though they came from places and timing that the seventh-grade Munchkin #5 didn’t envision. They came from places the twelfth-grade newspaper editor-in-chief would be horrified to see, as she envisioned a college life of journalism, journalism and journalism. The actuality was journalism, Zoom classes, leaving school to assistant manage her coffee shop side gig, and then finally returning to journalism.

My time as a student is coming to an end, and I can’t help but to cry and smile at all that’s happened.

I want to thank the Reporter staff for helping me find my way back to what I came to university to do, and for being welcoming from the very beginning when I awkwardly interviewed them with shaking hands and stumbled-over questions for my first practice assignment.

I want to thank my pandemic coffee crew for offering a sanctuary for us to commiserate over anxiety about COVID testing and roommates who went to super-spreader events. For supporting each other through mask anxiety and anti-mask customers we had to kick out. For the ones who continue to support me after the masks came off and the world restarted.

I want to thank my high school best friend who convinced me to follow him down to Mankato.

I want to thank the seventh grader who craved a bigger life, and the twelfth grader who made the decision to make it happen.

Here’s to more smiles, and cries, and all the little things we take for granted now that our future selves will kick us for later. Here’s to what’s to come.

Carly Bahr

(Courtesy Carly Bahr)

Write to Carly Bahr at caroline.bahr@mnsu.edu

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