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Out with a lantern, searching for myself

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MAY 11, 2023

I joined the Daily Cal a few short weeks before the world shut down. One of my last pre-pandemic memories is walking down Hearst to the office for my copy editing shift, admiring a beautiful sunset and blasting Lana Del Rey out of my cheap earphones. 

The world felt so open and full of possibilities then. As a freshman, I immediately fell deeply and irrevocably in love with Berkeley: the city, the campus, the people, the culture, the opportunities, the newfound freedom, the room for change and growth. I tried new things and met new people and savored my new life, acutely aware the entire time, even from the beginning, of how temporary it all was.

Now, as a senior, my bittersweet reflection on the past four years has reminded me, yet again, how lucky I am that my life has led here, in part by years of dedication and hard work, in part by sheer dumb luck. 

I wouldn’t be the person I am today without this place and this school. I might not have picked the majors I did or joined the school paper. I probably wouldn’t have ever gone backpacking or hammocked on a hill (to attempt, with dubious success,) to hear Lana Del Rey perform for free or hiked Twin Peaks hungover or driven down Lombard Street at 2 a.m. for absolutely no reason. I don’t know if I would have identified as queer. 

It wasn’t all sunshine and roses. My time in Berkeley has seen the most difficult experiences of my life, and as a result, my emotional well-being is something I will never take for granted ever again. But, as the cliche goes, I am grateful for even the painful times, because they taught me so, so much (it’s a cliche because it’s true, OK!).

I recently told a friend that the most important skill I will take away from my college experience is learning how to have difficult conversations, especially with people I care about deeply. As a ridiculously conflict-averse person, it doesn’t come naturally to me at all. 

But the past four years have prepared me to navigate situations that I previously would have been way, way over my head in. And all the learning and changing and growing and whatnot has only made me realize how much more I have to do (see: Dunning-Kruger effect).

The Daily Cal has been a significant part of my maturation into a sentient human being; I am not someone who gravitates toward being “in charge” in any way. But choosing to do so (by virtue of being the only person qualified and willing) taught me a few easy lessons and many difficult ones. I learned so much about myself and my abilities and strengths and weaknesses. Through it all, I was incredibly grateful to be supported by people around me who understood firsthand my love-hate relationship with this organization. I owe them thanks.

I was begged (slight exaggeration) by my aforementioned friend to write this column; I suspect they may have been partially motivated by a desire to see themself eulogized. But I had to cave; it’s the least I could do after everything others have done for me these past four years. 

So, here they are: my sappy thank-you’s. There are so many more people who have helped me and supported me, whom I admire and will miss very much, but I’ll keep this as brief as possible. 

Thank you Defne, for always being there, through the thick and thin of both my editorship and my life outside of this (occasionally all-encompassing) organization. You are a beast and I am genuinely in awe of you. Thank you Cameron, for encouraging me always, especially when I most needed it; I owe you for so much (including but not limited to: the LA Times, countless venting sessions, partial custody of a fantastic speaker). You are one of the most passionate, intelligent, dedicated people I have ever met, and I look up to you so much. 

Thank you Riya; you are the best legacy we could have asked for, and a wonderful, beautiful human being. I felt so confident leaving our department in your hands, and you have proved me right by outdoing me in every way (with the exception of my fantastic links of the day). And finally, thank you Noah, my partner in crime, my backbone, my savior. I say this all the time, but I mean it so deeply when I say that I could not have done any of it without you. We truly did save the city (despite occasionally being the ones to imperil it). 

I am so proud of myself for these past few years, and so proud of my friends in and out of the Daily Cal. I’ve watched you all become the people you are today, and I am so excited to see you continue to grow and change. We are, as Emily Dickinson said, out with lanterns looking for ourselves. I hope we never stop.

Ananya Thyagarajan was the fall 2022 night editor. She joined The Daily Californian in spring 2020 as a copy editor, and served as the sports copy chief in summer and fall 2021. She was a deputy night editor in spring 2022, and senior copy chief in summer 2022. She now serves as the spring 2023 night training manager and senior copy chief. She is graduating with bachelor’s degrees in public health and society & environment.

Contact Ananya Thyagarajan at 


MAY 11, 2023