As a first year, I remember looking up to upper-class students, namely seniors, who seemed to be so composed and calm and who seemed to actually know where the Old Music Building was located on campus. But I do recall those few seniors who were, well, just as grumpy as I look these days. I simply had no desire to speak to them, and I was even a little scared to do so.
I have become what I feared most.
Last week, I was sitting among a group of old acquaintances with whom I spent time with during first year. One of them reminded me of a time when I had complimented a scarf she had been wearing. We hardly knew each other, and just as we passed by one another in the Buntrock parking lot, I simply said, I really like your scarf.
That was it, seriously. However, she actually remembered this instance three years later, which leads me to believe that small gestures of kindness and little moments of brief connection like this really do matter in our day-to-day lives. It struck me rather profoundly so profoundly that I ran an experiment this past week.
As I ventured around campus, I looked up. Thats it. Instead of burying my nose in my daily planner, talking on my cell phone or watching my feet pitter-pat along the cement sidewalk towards the library, I looked at people and made eye contact. I even smiled from time to time. And, most shocking of all, I took off my enormous headphones, turned off my Journeys Greatest Hits 2006 playlist on my iPod, and had actual, reality-based conversations with people I encountered.
Suddenly, I started to fall into the know. I knew what was going on around campus, I was in on all the hot gossip and I started to enjoy those walks to class, because I knew I was going to see someone I liked.
It seems as though many students are forgetting that we like each other, in general. Support is an integral and vital part of our community, and even though we may not agree with everything that goes on at St. Olaf or like everyone we meet we should be constructive and respectful.
In short, remember to be nice. I have been hearing a lot of complaints about disrespectful under-class students, over-bearing upper-class students and condescending administrators.
Open that non-revolving door for another person, say God Bless You when someone sneezes and, above all, wash your hands after going to the bathroom.
We are all in this community in which we all chose to be together. Look up, say hello, and quit slamming your P.O. box doors.