U-Mail: Should I stay or should I go?

Julie Broch / Daily Nexus

To: S

From: Sury Dongre

Subject: Should I stay or should I go?

Dear S,

April 19, 2024 will go down in history as the day the universe decided to drive me crazy. The transfer decisions were known. I had applied to transfer out of some ‘what could have been’ sentiment and really didn’t think anything about it. Unfortunately. I should have cherished those blissful moments between November 30, 2023 and April 18, 2024. The biggest decision I made then was coffee from Cajé or KOZY. But then, that fateful Friday, everything changed.

Okay, it really wasn’t that dramatic. But when I opened that entry portal and saw, “Congratulations! You’ve been accepted to UC Berkeley.” I did three things. I screamed “FUCK,” I called my mom (she didn’t answer), and I changed my Hinge location to Berkeley, California.

In those three seconds, everything around me fell apart. The walls of my apartment didn’t feel real and the sunlight felt like stage lighting. I half expected the door to open to a sitcom film crew. My brain, which usually contained a few dust bunnies and a buzzing fly, was suddenly flooded with so many thoughts that it felt like static on the TV. It was the anxiety you experience when you play music through your phone speakers in the middle of a lecture.

I can’t really remember what happened next. The next week I limped through life, going to class and having occasional crises about what GEs would transfer, adding classes too late to meet eligibility requirements and wondering if I would even go. I wanted to keep the door open.

But for what? I found myself thinking about the benefits of going – did I want to go to Berkeley just for the prestige? To make my parents happy? To free myself from the shame I – and only I – felt when I told people I was going to UCSB? I know people don’t think I’m some kind of coke-snorting party animal, but I think they do. Who knows, maybe I only wanted to go because the image of an unshowered nerd was better than a beach bum. I accused my parents of often running for prestige, but maybe I was too.

On Tuesday I shuffled into the Nexus office for a printing evening. As I started up the computer, I stared listlessly out the window. My brain was still an endless loop of static electricity, and the movements of opening my email and InDesign were controlled by an unconscious operating system. However, when a friend opened the door, we started talking, and slowly it all unraveled. The stress of making a choice that could change my future, the fear that I would never escape the Bay Area mentality, it all faded away. Okay, that’s a bit much. It helped tune the broken radio of a brain I had been working with. I have certainly gained clarity. But who knows. Go or stay, I know it will be fine. At least I’m healthier than I was on April 19, 2024.

Torn but fine


A version of this article appeared on p. 14 of the May 2, 2024 print edition of the Daily Nexus.