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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

After four years, we’re missing some limbs

A+beaten-up+teddy+bear+keychain+lies+on+top+of+a+set+of+keys.+Mr+Bear+has+been+through+four+years+of+hard+work+and+crazy+adventures+and+has+had+many+at-home+repairs+to+make+it+to+graduation.

A beaten-up teddy bear keychain lies on top of a set of keys. “Mr Bear” has been through four years of hard work and crazy adventures and has had many at-home repairs to make it to graduation.

For the past four years, I have had this tiny bear keychain on my keys. It’s this little metal teddy bear with dangling limbs and a block “A” school logo painted on his stomach, shiny and smiling with great enthusiasm. At least, he used to be.

In the long four years I’ve had this little guy, he’s been through some rough stuff. Mr. Bear, as I call him, has been attached to different keys, handed from one person to another, been shoved in the bottom of a backpack, been lost in the grocery store, traveled on planes to New York; Chicago; Portland, Ore.; and even Costa Rica. The wear and tear has started to show. Now, he has no limbs, is covered in scratches and faint streaks of red and blue indicating where the logo used to be, and the two halves of his body are held together by nothing but tape.

This degradation didn’t happen overnight. It was a long process. While he began to lose screws and needed weekly rebinding by the last few months of school, there was something about Mr. Bear that just wouldn’t let me throw him away.

One day around March, I noticed the only screw keeping his head together had finally loosened itself enough and had fallen out. Mr. Bear was two hollow metal pieces precariously dangling together on a small metal chain that were no longer connected. Keep in mind, they sell these keychains at almost every drugstore, and it would have been an $8 investment to just buy a new Mr. Bear — but this guy was special. He’d been through four of the hardest, most hectic, most stressful and rewarding years of my life. I had to figure out a way to get him through to the end.

So, I grabbed some tape and scissors and did my best to bind him back up. “Hang in there little buddy,” I whispered. “It’s only two months until graduation. We can do this.”

Sitting here now looking back on this rather inconspicuous incident, I realized that I wasn’t just convincing Mr. Bear to hold on; I was sort of convincing myself. Like many seniors, the end of the last semester comes at an all-too-alarmingly-fast speed, yet somehow drags on and on for an endless amount of time. It’s this dichotomy of too close for comfort and too far away to seem attainable, and the “real world” is looming just on the other side. The struggle to keep fighting and push through to the end is daunting. You have to overcome the fear of what’s to come after May 16 while simultaneously giving your best effort in every class in order to get past with a diploma in hand.

For me, the final semester of my senior year was a whirlwind: I took a full class load, including the two hardest classes of my academic career, worked a full-time job as editor-in-chief at the Daily Wildcat, traveled to Oregon, Tennessee and Nevada, learned coding to build a web app and maintained a long-distance relationship.

Seeing Mr. Bear slowly lose the important components of his tiny metal body at times paralleled the feeling that I was losing important components of my sanity. Personal and academic stress can really take a toll. Getting through college is no easy task, even for a keychain.

Mr. Bear may be a little bit worse for wear at this point, but to me, he’s the perfect encapsulation of what four years of tough work can really do. Maybe on the other side of the four years of the craziness we call college, we might look a little different than we did when we were shiny and new, fresh out of high school. We might have some scratches, dings and missing limbs, so to speak. Maybe we’ve encountered things we never thought we would or were put in situations we couldn’t predict or expect. Maybe we did start to fall apart at times as all of our screws came loose.

However, somewhere along the way, someone reached out and handed you some tape. To all those people who have been my tape: Thank you. Patching ourselves back to together, we’ve learned to be resilient. We’ve learned to improvise and get creative. We’ve learned how important it is to keep going even when things get tough. We’ve also learned how much we need each other in the process.

Mr. Bear and Class of 2015, congratulations. We made it to the finish line.

_______________

— Nicole Thill was Spring 2015 Daily Wildcat Editor-in-Chief 

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