Beginning of end

I’ve thought about how to start my swan song more times than I can count. When I was a freshman first introduced to the concept of a swan song, I was convinced I would wax lyrical about an organization I had already, in my mind, pledged my college years to.

When I had one of the worst semesters of my life because of the very same organization, I spent nights thinking about how I would rage against the paper, cite its every flaw and air out all my grievances — and that was if I even stayed in the paper long enough.

When I held the first copy of a paper with my name on it as editor-in-chief or when someone in my staff told me they would come in to do layout even if they didn’t have to because they liked the environment of the newsroom, I thought I would write 800 words about how these were in fact the best part of my three years.

Now that I’m here, actually starting my swan song, I have no idea how to write what feels like the beginning of an end. When I joined the paper, I was a completely different person. I was painfully shy, deeply insecure and ready to transfer out to a school closer to home, closer to the familiar. 

Joining the Technique was a fluke more than anything. Even though I had mentioned it in my application to Tech, I expected to do nothing more than get published a few times and maybe send my articles to my parents when I walked into that dingy room in the Flag Building. Instead, I quickly became enamored with having a place that encouraged me to write. I started as a contributing entertainment writer, binging all of “What If…?” in one weekend to
write about it for my first article. I still remember one of my best friends taping up my article in their freshman dorm. Seeing my words hung up against the refurbished dorm walls, dented by years of command strips and thumb tacks, I knew that I had found my place at the Institute. From there, I would move on to become an opinions writer, a role that I would hold for all of four issues. 

It fits me perfectly as, and anyone who knows me can attest, I have an opinion about practically everything. From banned books to coffee shops, I was on a mission to let everyone on campus know what I thought — and maybe make a little money along the way. After an unexpected departure from my then-boss, I applied and was offered the position of opinions editor — a huge jump in responsibility and time commitment. 

I can still pinpoint the exact moment I got the offer over the phone from my then editor-in-chief — sitting on my lofted bed with my hair wet and my hands shaking. I wasn’t ready then, and, almost two years later, I’m not sure if I would have ever been ready.

What followed was multiple unfinished introductions in lost and untitled Google documents. 

Some included introductions to swan songs where I explained why I hated it here and raged about how being editor-in-chief may legitimately be the hardest thing I will ever do in my lifetime. 

Others held much softer beginnings where I talked about the gratitude I held for the ability I was given to have a voice in my community and lamented how much I would miss late nights with some of my favorite people.

As I’m writing this, I have no idea where any of those drafts are. 

Instead, I only leave this experience wishing I hadn’t spent so much time wishing for the end or thinking about how much I would miss it. 

Because, the thing is, a swan song will never truly encapsulate it all. A swan may sing its most beautiful song before it dies, but that doesn’t make it the most meaningful. 

Rather, each moment spent carries its own finality because we may only experience it once before we are handed to the next. Every time I had started writing this in the past, it felt like the beginning of the end. 

However, as I actually sit down and write my final piece, I can’t help but feel like it’s just the end of the beginning.