Daily interactions leave lasting impression
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Anyone who knows me will tell you I am not, and never have been, a morning person.
This is a problem that has plagued me my entire life. As far back as I can remember, up until my last week of high school, mornings in the Olsen house followed a very similar pattern when it came to the issue of waking me up.
Initially, my mom would sneak into my room quietly, gently nudge my shoulder and tell me it was around that time to get up and think about hopping in the shower.
After returning her kindness with a quick smile and dozy “I love you,” I would let myself slowly fall back asleep, knowing fully in my mind ahead of time I had few intentions of waking up.
Although this affectionate interaction between my mom and I usually repeated a few times, the mornings soon turned ugly.
About a half hour after I already should have been up, showered and readying myself for school — keep in mind both my parents worked for the school, so having their son consistently be late must have struck some sort of nerve — the bedroom light would come on, and the shouting matches, which my mother always won, commenced.
Now, believe me, I know this process sounds dysfunctional, but it was all I had ever known.
Although growing up I always knew in the back of my mind that my mom wouldn’t be able to stand in the doorway and yell at me until I got up, I really didn’t think the transition to waking up by myself at college was going to be very difficult.
Boy, was I wrong.
As someone who is terrible at waking up, I have a horrible track record for scheduling morning classes and creating strange routines to help make sure I get to them on time. Although this includes setting countless alarms hours before my necessary wake-up time to sleeping with a window open — which I also suspect might lead to a majority of my winter colds — even as a senior, having early classes on Tuesdays and Thursdays once again proved to be a difficult challenge.
Once I finally wake up, my morning routine follows a usual pattern.
First, I lie in bed and have the same inner battle with myself: arguing the pros and cons of not going to class, deciding that not going is fine, falling asleep for about five minutes and then jumping out of bed terrified that I’m late.
After a quick shower, which I often groan through, I put on clothes, which might or might not be dirty, and leave my house to make the walk.
Although I hate almost every step involved in this morning process, a little way into the walk I make every Tuesday and Thursday, something happens that I always enjoy.
A girl, whose morning walking path must coincidently cross mine, looks at me, and we smile to one another before continuing on our way.
A few minutes later, shortly after I cross Grand River Avenue and begin my walk on campus, this process happens again, but with two guys who always are walking together. We nod and wave to each other and, like before, continue our walks to our final destinations.
I couldn’t tell you anything about the people I see these mornings, and essentially, we’re strangers.
I don’t know their names, majors or where they grew up, and I’ve never even had a conversation with them long enough to tell you what their voices sound like, but something about all of that doesn’t really seem to matter.
In some strange and unique way, the three people I exchange smiles with as I walk to class in the mornings represent the small relationships each of us have in our lives.
Whether it’s a scenario like mine, or some person you repeatedly connect eyes with during a class, these people stand out and are important to your day.
Regardless of whether you ever see these people outside of the small place in your life in which they reside, I believe they hold a distinct spot in your day, and in my opinion, you hold the same in theirs.
As college students, I think it sometimes is too easy for us to get caught up in our busy schedules and fail to take a step back and really enjoy the little things around us. In the mix of balancing school, work and a social life in the small number of hours we designate to each, taking time to recognize, and appreciate, these small, rather genuine moments often becomes easy to overlook.
As the semester winds to a close, a part of me is saddened knowing I most likely will never see the people who held a place in my mornings ever again, but I am happy for what they taught me.
Despite being strangers, you can have a huge impact on someone’s day simply by showing him or her kindness.
Whether it’s with a smile, a nod or a wave, the three people I saw left a huge impression on my morning and sometimes gave me the extra boost I needed to hit my alarm, hop out of bed and start my day.
Although I’ll most likely never see them again, I hope they know how much I appreciated their kindness, and hope, in the same way, they appreciated mine.
Now let’s just see how I feel about mornings after my first 8 a.m. in the spring.
Greg Olsen is a staff writer at The State News and a professional writing senior. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.