A Cliché That Works

KACIE GROSSMEIER, OPINION COLUMNIST

Stop and smell the roses.

Stop and smell the fresh manure the farmer just spread on the field, or the unmistakable scent of the green Fox River. Stop and take in the crimson leaves in fall or the manger all lit up on the first snowy December night. Stop and sip your coffee in the Shakespeare Garden or on the squishy couches of the Campus Center reflection lounge.

Maybe “stop and smell the roses” has a better flair, but these unique aspects of the St. Norbert experience sound much more like home.

Home is what this campus has become to me, what it hopefully becomes to all of us by the end of our undergraduate careers. Yet it is hard to appreciate the beauty of this home until we are forced to leave it.

College flies by. In the middle of writing endless research papers, finishing pre-labs and practicing for concerts or the next big game, years of our lives are passing by. No matter if the dusks slip into dawns in the 24-hour study space in Ed’s café or in the middle of making memories we won’t remember, the journey of college rushes us out to the other side without so much as a by-your-leave. It isn’t until the very end that one can look back and think of what an amazing experience attending college, specifically St. Norbert College, really was.

Sure, I could dismiss this notion and say retrospect wears rose-colored glasses, but I truly believe more is at stake here. It is shameful how we are so rushed through college, always pining for what is next and looking toward the future that we don’t take the time to appreciate where we already are.

In part, this is due to how easy (and arguably necessary) it is to get caught up in our lives as college students—balancing schedules, planning for the future, both immediate and distant, trying to remember the last time we called home or what happened in the last season of “House of Cards.” There is rarely time to sit back and just appreciate this campus for all of the reasons we chose to attend it in the first place.

So much of this falls back on our culture and society. Here we are, bright young adults with passions, ideas and optimism for our futures. We have already accomplished much just to be here today, yet we never get to enjoy how far we have come. Rather, we keep pushing forward, working harder, packing more into our schedules, worrying about our futures. When was the last time anyone told us to relish in the very moment we occupy?

Our culture preaches how we must go, go, go. Go to this meeting, go to class, go to work, go to the library, go to this event. We do what we think we should; we do what is expected. We multitask to keep up with it all and end up walking with our eyes down on our phones or with headphones in our ears or breakfast in our hands, blocking our senses to our immediate surroundings. We are so programmed into needing to fill every free space of time that we complain we can’t take enough classes or there aren’t enough activities to join.

When did stopping to smell the roses lose its appeal?

College is a tremendous journey, and there should always be an end goal in mind because it is too expensive not to. However, being here is already an amazing feat. This campus in particular is beautiful and full of hidden gems we never have enough time to enjoy.

Perhaps this is one of those, “you never know what you got ‘til it’s gone” sort of moments. In the end, though, we are only here for four years. Enjoy them.

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