A little less than four years ago, I attended an info session in the basement of Newcomb Hall for the student newspaper because I liked to write. That was it. I showed up early — because if you know me, I have a thing about being early — and after sitting through the presentation, decided to join Sports and Copy. I was going to take it pretty easy for the rest of undergrad.
Needless to say, we all know that is not what happened.
So many people have told me how I should feel since completing my term. “You should be proud of yourself,” they've said. “Retirement must be so relaxing,” they’ve insisted. I have smiled weakly and nodded because I know that is how I am supposed to feel. That was the parting shot I wanted to write, but it would not be the truth.
Those close to me know I spend a lot of time thinking about the nature of this work and student self-governance. Much of this philosophy has been informed by a George Orwell quote that hangs on the wall of my Lawn room — “In times of deceit, telling the truth is a revolutionary act.”
I’ve spent four years searching for the capital-T Truth, but I don’t know that I’ll ever actually find it. If anything, I’ve learned that life isn’t black and white. In the interest of being truthful, though, this parting shot feels like an appropriate place to be honest about what I do think I’ve learned.
I know there were days when this work broke me. I often felt like I was living in a nightmare — I wondered whether someone or something was trying to test me and if so, when they would stop. I grew to believe that my existence was a curse on this paper and the people I loved.
I know this has also been incredibly — and at times, unbearably — lonely. There is nothing like it — no human who truly understands and can sympathize, no person willing to pop the invisible bubble I envisioned separated me from the world. I resent that I lacked time and energy for family and friends and did not enjoy the same college experience as my peers.
I share this not because I am interested in pity or to say it was all bad, but in the hopes that someday, someone like me might read this and know that they are not alone in the ways I often felt I was.
I have struggled to make sense of much of our term, and I’ll be the first to admit that I don’t have all the solutions. What has helped, though, is reminding myself of what I feel grateful for. Because the last four years were also beautiful, and I know I deserve to feel thankful for and be proud of those moments, too.
I witnessed and shared history with our community — be it waking up at 5 a.m. to see the Robert E. Lee statue be removed after years of advocacy to covering just about every aspect of the COVID-19 pandemic. I wrote my ass off — from Greek life to the Honor Committee to the Board of Visitors. I led and executed on a vision — we revamped our newsletters, commemorated the five-year anniversary of “Unite the Right,” launched an archival digitization project, redesigned our social media platforms and more.
And finally, I also learned that I am so much more than one job, one story, one mistake or one accomplishment. I have so much love and compassion to give to the world, and most importantly, to the people I care about — many of whom I met on this paper.
I count myself lucky to have worked alongside not just one, but two incredible Managing Boards. To the 132nd and 133rd terms, thank you for trusting me. I am so proud of what we accomplished together.
Ethan, my work husband and our unwavering voice of reason — I can’t imagine having anyone else by my side through it all. Khuyen, my platonic soulmate — you have made all of us better humans and friends. Ariana and Lauren, my loves — you show me what Big Friendship means every day. APro, Nate, Lexi and Charlie — don’t take a single second for granted. Ayanna and Hannah — thank you for letting me do this and for always holding me accountable.
Ava MacBlane — I hope you know this paper is so lucky to have you as its leader and we are all even more fortunate to call you our friend. I love you big time, kid.
None of this would have been possible without Jenn Brice and Tim Dodson. They have sat through comprehensible — and incomprehensible — three-hour phone calls, fielded 10-minute voice memos and have constantly reminded me that I could and would move forward every time I thought I couldn’t. I am indebted to you both.
Sometimes I wonder what I would tell the 18-year-old version of myself sitting in that info session four years ago knowing where I am today. I don’t know if I’ll ever find the exact words, but for now, I’d like to think that I’d give her a huge hug and tell her to remember that no matter what, she would be okay.
So here we are 164 articles later, and we’ve finally made it — these are the last words I will ever write for The Cavalier Daily.
I guess the truth is that I will never really let this place, this paper or these people go. But for now, I’m going to try to make my peace with it. The joy was in the journey — and my next one is about to start. I can’t wait.
Lots of love, always.
Eva Surovell was the Editor in Chief of the 133rd term, Managing Editor of the 132nd Term and News Editor of the 131st and 132nd Terms.