It was the fall of 2008, when everybody called me Tuffy and it didnâ€™t occur to me to mind. It was before Barack Obama became president, before Lady Gaga reached international fame, when all I wanted to do was start college and I didnâ€™t think Iâ€™d ever find a guy as great as my dad.
For all of you who didnâ€™t notice, yes that was loosely based off of the opening line of the 1987 hit â€œDirty Dancing.â€ And yes, I did tailor it to describe my life four years ago, when I was a freshman just getting started at CSU.
Fast forward to now, and a lot of my life has changed. â€œTuffy,â€ the high school nickname everyone seemed to call me back then, for example, is now just mainly used by family members or in the occasional Facebook wall post.
Obamaâ€™s first presidential term is almost up, radio stations arenâ€™t constantly playing back-to-back Lady Gaga songs anymore and the excitement I felt about starting college has now been replaced by the dread I feel knowing that Iâ€™m graduating this month.
I still havenâ€™t found a guy as great as my dad, though.
Looking back, I think of everything thatâ€™s changed me in the past four years. Everything Iâ€™ve experienced starting the second I first stepped on this campus, from the classes Iâ€™ve taken to the people Iâ€™ve met, has helped shape the person I am today.
And, keeping with my â€œDirty Dancingâ€ theme, no thing or one changed me quite as much as Johnny Castle, the seductive dance instructor from the wrong side of the tracks, did. Okay, okay, so I didnâ€™t have a dance instructor, but I did have the Collegian, which is the closest Iâ€™ve gotten to a life-changing experience.
From the second I started writing for this paper, I fell in love with it. Serving as an outlet for my passion, the Collegian not only gave me a purpose, it also gave me another home. The newsroom not only became my second apartment, but the paperâ€™s staff became my second family.
The little band of misfits that made up this family has changed me in ways I never imagined they could. My fellow News Editor Matt Miller and I developed telepathic powers. Other editors â€“ Courtney and Colleen â€“ taught me that thereâ€™s no problem a good corn dog canâ€™t fix. Columnist Eugene Daniels let me know that there are people who donâ€™t think itâ€™s weird to eat hot wings over a trash can and almost cry during a televised interview between Oprah and Paula Deen.
Greg Mees, our visual managing editor, proved that there are a few men out there who wonâ€™t let you down. Heck, Content Managing Editor Allison Sylte even made me climb a mountain once.
Thinking about leaving these people and the CSU campus behind, is enough to keep me up at night (like studying for finals hasnâ€™t already), but Iâ€™m prepared. I know it will be a little scary at first, I mean, when Baby originally tried that lift during her and Johnnyâ€™s performance at the Sheldrake, things got a little hairy.
But, just like her, Iâ€™ll keep going. My professors, co-workers and amazing friends â€“ shout out to Emi, Carolyn and Sarah! â€“ have prepared me for all that lies ahead. I just need to get out in the world and start living my post-collegiate life.
And no matter what happens, I wonâ€™t let anyone put me in a corner.
Feedback for former News Editor Erin Udell can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org.