Ben Ferree

I’m not good at goodbyes. I never have been and honestly, I probably never will be.

So finding the words to write this column has been incredibly difficult.

This is probably because of a lot of reasons and seemingly could absolutely be analyzed by a psychologist, but I think it’s because I don’t like looking back — I don’t like endings.

It makes perfect sense as I don’t like to finish shows on Netflix or have rarely finished playing through an entire campaign in video games.

I prefer looking toward the future and beginnings. And frankly, I’ve been ready for a new beginning for the past year.

I wouldn’t describe college as the best four years of my life as many do.

This being said, college has allowed me to grow exponentially as a person since my parents dropped me off at Robinson Hall four years ago.

I’ve met some amazing people, and I’ve had some amazing experiences with the Collegian.

None of these things I take for granted, but I can’t say I enjoyed my last year in college. That’s OK, because for me, I know the best years of my life are ahead of me.

Ben grills as a youth at a tailgate

I haven’t been living them.

I think in part this is due to the coronavirus, as it certainly has brought more challenges to me mentally than anything I’ve ever faced (the record also needs to show I’ve been lucky enough and made tons of sacrifices to never be infected by it, as I sit here fully vaccinated).

But I think even without the coronavirus, I would be sitting here writing similar words. My entire life, I’ve been pushing for what’s next.

At the end of high school, I couldn’t wait to get to college. Now that I’m at the end of college, I’m ready to leave and start the next chapter of my life.

While writing this column, I haven’t been sad — I’m proud of what I achieved at the Collegian. I’m content with it. I prefer to view it as the start of what’s next, not the end of something I’ve put many hours into.

So should I take a little more time to reflect now and then... probably, we all should.

But overall, as I prepare to graduate in the stadium I’ve spent many hours working in, I know my story hasn’t been told yet — I know Penn State has helped guide me, but certainly hasn’t made me into who I am.

And that, I’m proud of. I don’t know exactly what my next beginning is going to be — frankly it could be in a lot of things. However, I know I’m ready to conquer it. Sometimes in life to find your motivation, you just need a fresh start.

Journalism likely won’t be part of this new beginning, but I’m excited to see where my journey takes. I’m excited to see where I find the best four years of my life.

But before I do that, I need to thank some people who have made my journey a little bit brighter:

To my parents, Curtis and Steph: Thank you for the countless years of support. I’m truly lucky to have parents like you who are ready to support me at each and every turn. It doesn’t go unnoticed or underappreciated. To think when we were touring colleges, Penn State was the last place I wanted to go to.

To Elena: Where to even begin… Thank you for inspiring me at every turn. I’m truly lucky to have the most loving, supportive and determined girl in my life. You make every day special — whether we are watching Top Chef, cooking dinner together or even when you show me countless photos of ugly lil dogs. I’ll forever be appreciative we found each other and of the joy you bring to me. I know our time is just starting, and I can’t wait for the many years of memories ahead of us.

Ben with Elena

To my roommates and best friends, Erik, Gian, Josh, Kevin and Kyle: To think it all started in 409 (thanks Joe) Beam. Thank you guys for the constant laughs, smiles and mischief (for the record, I think you should’ve just popped Erik’s shoulder back in its socket). You were always the first to give me a like or retweet on my many, many tweets and always understood why I couldn’t go to that one tailgate. Through good or bad, you guys inspire so much happiness in my life, and I’m proud to call you my best friends. No matter where we end up, I know I found my boys for life.

Ben and his roommates

To the lads back in the 717 (you guys know who you are): Thank you guys for all the laughs, late nights by the fire and countless board games. We’ve certainly been through it all, and our lives have certainly changed a lot since we left for college four years ago. I’m excited for the future and know I’ll always have a special appreciation for a card with the simple phrase: “Bees?”

To DJ and Caleb: Frog and Toad, thank you guys for all the support. I learned so much from both of you and am truly thankful to call you my friends. From my first year at Penn State, you both continued to push me to be my best. It’s hard to share just one memory, but I know there isn’t anyone else I would want to drive to Ohio just to get Cane’s with. Also remember the deer on the Michigan State trip? Anyway, on a more serious note, thank you guys for everything, as my Collegian experience wouldn’t have been the same without you.

To Evan, Justin and Andrew: Thanks for putting up with me as your boss this football season. It was weird, but I’m proud of what we managed to accomplish and will always remember the role you guys played in my senior year.

To all the Collegian people past, present and future I’ve had the pleasure of working with: Thanks for all the memories. College certainly wouldn’t have been the same without you. I’m excited to see how the paper continues to grow and evolve over the next couple years.

This article is my 652nd (I think, sometimes I had bylines with Ben Ferree, not Benjamin, so this is only including the Benjamin ones) and last for the Collegian. From all the long nights, road trips and laughs, thank you for following me on this journey, and I hope you stick around for my new beginnings ahead.

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