SENIOR OP-ED: Spend time on the little things

I honestly don’t remember much from high school. The years blend together in my mind, and mostly, I look back on it as a quick blur of teen angst.

One thing that has truly stuck with me from high school, however, came from my senior English teacher. With one week left in the school year, she looked out at the room of 25 fidgeting, excited and nervous 18-year-olds and made a statement that has stuck with me.

“You are going to experience a whole new world when you enter college. I won’t remind you to always do what makes you happy, nor will I suggest that striving for success is most important. The most meaningful advice that I can give you is to remember that the little things matter.”

This struck me as an odd request at the time. Happiness and success are supposed to be the ultimate goals, right? We’d been trained to set our sights as high as possible, and even if things didn’t turn out as planned, that’s ok as long as we were happy. Spending time on things little things sounded nice, but there’s no way that could be more important.

Throughout my years here, I have begun to understand why my teacher chose that reminder specifically. While at Xavier, striving for success and happiness came naturally for me.

I sought leadership positions in clubs and went after internships that would give me a competitive edge. I developed close friendships with people and spent many Saturday afternoons binge-watching shows on Netflix.

Things that weren’t directly related to school or required extra effort did not always come as naturally.

Making time for volunteering was challenging when juggling classes and extracurriculars.

Going out of my way to find a recycling bin when I was late for class was much more inconvenient than just throwing my bottle in the trash. And telling the truth to a professor about a late assignment was much harder than pretending to be sick. All of these “little things” that I thought were unimportant, turned out to be central to making my college experience meaningful.

Now here we are, four years later, once again getting ready to start a new chapter in our lives.

To the Class of 2018, the best advice I can think of is to offer the same reminder that my teacher gave me. As you make the transition into a new job, volunteering, graduate school or whatever your plans are after graduation, spend time on the little things. Regardless of what you end up doing in the future, you will have the opportunity to take a little extra time to slow down on things that may not seem important.

This may manifest itself in getting to know your roommate, helping out a coworker or simply taking the extra time to be a good friend. If my college experience is at all indicative of the future, though, remembering to take advantage of these kinds of small acts will not always come instinctively or intuitively. We will need to actively strive to remember to embrace those moments. If we can do that, I firmly believe that we will all lead much more meaningful lives.

Many of us have yet to determine precisely what makes us happy or exactly what success will mean for us in the coming years.

But if we spend time on the little things, we may just discover success and happiness come along the way.

Olivia Knestrict is a senior criminal justice major from Mason, Ohio. She is the outgoing Head Copy Editor for the Newswire.