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The Art of Saying Goodbye

Conclusions have never been easy for me to read or write. I reach the final chapter of any story and I need to pause and wait until I am ready to soak in the final page. When I reach the final paragraph of an essay, my laptop’s cursor blinks for days before I am able to finish tying my prose together. Why is it so hard for me to finish the final chapter and write the last word? I have no set answers but I have come to realize that it may have to do with my phobia of “good-bye.”
To me, saying “good-bye” signals the closure of familiarity. Saying “goodbye” means moving beyond experiences and people you have grown to love and are not quite ready to let go. Saying “good-bye” does not have to be a permanent ending but at the moment sometimes the word triggers the fear that it may very well be a final farewell. Regardless, here I am in the midst of my final article for The Bates Student as Editor-in-Chief.
I realize it is way more productive to take a step back and realize just how impactful working with The Bates Student has been for me. This newspaper has granted me opportunities that are priceless. I have been introduced to diverse and brilliant groups of people. I have been pushed outside my comfort zone and wrote stories I have always wanted to but have been too afraid to write, let alone publish. The least I can do is write a proper goodbye, no matter how hard these words are for me to think about.
When I was in elementary school, I was very shy, had a stutter, and very low reading fluency. When my teachers called on me to read aloud my work, it would take me almost 10 minutes to read the first sentence. Then, I was always asked to stop, my face would turn red, I would crinkle my writing, and move on as if those words never even existed.
I certainly grew out of this phase, but it took me until senior year of high school to share my writing and voice with others. When I was in high school and presented my college essay to my “Modern American Literature” teacher I was hoping to submit the essay to my “Common Application” as soon as possible. If my teacher did not challenge me to rewrite the paper and draft out the ideas I would have never realized the areas, such as clarity and wordiness, that I needed to work on in my writing. I was terrified to show my writing to this teacher because my essay was about a personal family trauma that I was not even quite sure I was ready to share with my closest friends, let alone my teacher. His patience and empathy, however, ensured me that I had made the right move. He helped me map out my ideas and restructure my prose. He helped me see that writing is a collaborative process and one meant to be shared with others.
This is why The Bates Student is so important to me. Our student newspaper has granted students the opportunity to find their voice, trust others, and share their writing with the Bates and Lewiston/Auburn community. As a staff writer, I learned how to converse with students, faculty, and staff, integrate quotes into my writing, and add breadth to my prose on deadline. As a Managing Sports Editor, I gained more confidence in my writing, aroused excitement about The Bates Student, and gathered pools of writers for my section. Now, as Editor-in-Chief, I have stepped inside the shoes of a teacher and managed an enthusiastic staff, eager to continue to see growth in our biweekly publications.
I used to think that there was some art form to saying the perfect “goodbye.” Now, I realize that it can be simple. Not because it is not as meaningful, but because I am leaving The Bates Student in the hands of passionate individuals who will continue to help others feel comfortable and excited to share the news and opinions of Bates College. I leave with this final piece of advice: Never feel as though your story doesn’t deserve to be told. Keep writing and sharing whatever story you believe needs to be heard. I know that I am going to keep writing and learning and I hope you all do too.
Final words are never fully final. They open new doors and lead to more inquisition and ever-expanding growth. So, good-bye and, more importantly, thank you.

Sarah Rothmann
Former Editor-in-Chief 2018-2019

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