The first time you leave The Badger Herald, you feel a weight come off your shoulders.

This second — and final — time, you feel a weight sitting heavy in your heart.

After your semester abroad, you come back disillusioned with both the editorial process and the way the world is. Before, as the editor of the ArtsEtc. section, the answers seemed simple — in how to create content and how to solve the problems of the world. Amplify the voices of as many good people as you can find and call or drown out all the bad ones.

When you get back, though, the world seems a far greyer place. Where, you ask, are the defined good people and the bad ones — the heroes to applaud and the villains to admonish? Everything and everyone, including yourself, instead seems jumbled along a spectrum of good and bad — right and wrong — with an invisible middle.

So, coming back to the Herald as Print Features Editor, you feel a tad disillusioned with the importance of anything, let alone a student newspaper.

But then you get back into the swing of things. You’re surrounded by people plugging away, getting things done one by one and communicating. It’s clumsy at first, but you get the hang of it.

Every day, you’re in awe of how your co-workers continue to work and live, apparently undaunted by the ways of the world. You question and are jealous of their drive. You’re still struggling with problems you could never solve on your own, but there are deadlines to meet so those take priority.

After a while, the talk around work is not so work-oriented. You peel back your layers, and others peel back theirs. You see that everyone is going through their shit, just as you are. You see that no one knows what they are doing, or what to do or how to make it all hurt less.

You realize that everyone has been feeling how you’ve felt, and you realize they’ve been doing everything that has to be done regardless — and killing it in the process. You realize that you’ve been doing the same as well.

You realize though there may no sure way forward, no rules to the game provided, that there is no excuse not to keep moving in the direction that the little voice, the one muted by the tumult of your doubts and your anxieties, tells you it thinks might be forward.

And you learn that even when it leads you astray, tumbling down a dusty hill, that there are other people with little voices too, there to brush you off and buy you a Long Island.

You imagine leaving the office for the last time. You look back on all the things you’ve done —the good and the bad, all the people you’ve met —the good and the bad, all the interactions — some life-altering and some mundane, and it all blends together into a feeling comprised of so many feelings it’s barely a feeling at all.

It’s just you.

You feel tall but small, heavy but light, tough but soft. You sit in a coffee shop and wonder if your editor will publish a farewell column written in second-person. You don’t care.

So long, Badger Herald.

Thank you for being there to shine the light where it’s needed.

Thank you for helping me find the light in myself, again.