When I first started college, I remember feeling an overwhelming dread that I wasn’t going to make it through.

At the time, I remember telling my roommate I was worried I’d have to drop out halfway through because I couldn’t keep up with the course work or I would get too lost in it all without my usual routines and anchors.

But it turns out I was fine. Commencement has come and gone, and sitting in the aftermath of the last four years I’m filled with some of that same dread from freshman year, but it doesn’t feel quite as heavy this time.

During my time at college, I’ve learned I can handle more than I think I can, and the times I rose to the occasion in high school maybe weren’t flukes. The place that taught me that the most was The Badger Herald.

I started at the Herald not because I had any dreams of journalism, but because I wanted in on the community that existed there. I had a friend already involved and squirmed my way into events and digital nights as her plus one.

I started writing whatever news they’d let me and found I enjoyed it more than I thought I would — perhaps I’d found the perfect outlet for my nosy tendencies. Being a news writer means it’s your job to stay up to date on the local drama, after all.

Because I lack the ability to do anything in a chill way, I continued to apply for new positions further and further up the Herald food chain, and soon I’d found myself gunning for managing editor.

Once again, the familiar feeling of inadequacy that tends to follow me was back and I questioned why I was even applying. Despite ingraining myself in the news scene on campus, I still had no grand dreams of journalism — I studied environmental science, after all. Surely someone actually destined for the field ought to take the spot.

But in the end, my desire to help shape the organization into what I knew it had the potential to be and my want to build a better community within the Herald won out and I applied. Spoiler alert — I got the job.

Despite my struggle to master AP Style or to read things over just one more time before hitting publish, I learned how to find my niche. I had the blessing of having a co-managing editor and editor in chief that balanced out my strengths and weaknesses, and together we formed a sort of dream team.

They helped me understand my value and that I did in fact belong at that board table. The year wasn’t easy by any means, and every print edition I’m sure I wasn’t the only one wanting to pull out my hair, but I know I’ll miss it dearly thanks to my co-upper management members who quickly became some of my best friends.

Beyond them, I have plenty of others to thank from the Herald who took the time to become my friends and support me throughout my time there. This year, I finally felt like I truly found the community I’d been searching for at the Herald, and to all the friends I made along the way — thank you.

I love you all more than you know, and if you don’t keep me updated on everything you accomplish in the following semesters at the Herald and beyond, know that I’ll haunt your family forever.

My final weeks of the semester felt like a crash landing of sorts, but looking back I can feel relieved knowing I got through it and accomplished all that I had hoped I would. The anxiety I feel at the beginning of new eras will likely follow me for most of my life, but every challenge I overcome gives history to look back on and feel secure in the fact that I’ve continued to push on in the face of imposter syndrome before, and I will do it again.

As my friends from the last four years begin to move on to their next stage in life, and the writers I’ve watched grow at the Herald prepare to assume their next positions, I feel the anxiety relax just a little bit. I couldn’t be prouder of all of them, and I hope they know that.

I’m still figuring out what comes next for me, but whatever it is, I’ll be ok. If I could survive co-piloting The Badger Herald for a year, I can handle what comes next.

The Badger Herald, you are a difficult beast to steer, but you are also a wonderful ride. I’ll miss you dearly — please don’t crash any time soon.