By Sarah Fuller
Distinguished Young Woman of Pennsylvania for 2013
College is teaching me a lot. I’m learning about my interests. I’m learning about the type of life I want to have (even though I haven’t quite figured that one out yet.) I’m learning information I’ll need in my career. I’m learning how to function on my own. But something else I’ve learned this year has been just as important: to slow down and take it all in. Notice the small things.
Sometimes, I’ll sit in the cafeteria with my friends and talk with them as the volume in the room continues to rise as it gets more and more crowded. I’ve realized, however, that I can learn a lot more about them and what’s going on in their lives if I just stop talking, sit back, and listen. My friends sometimes ask if something is wrong since I’m not talking, but I simply tell them, “I’m just observing.” I’m seeing how people interact. I’m seeing how friends greet each other. I’m seeing the look on each of my friends’ faces as they tell stories about their day, and this helps me figure out what they’re really feeling. I’m just noticing the small things.
I carry my cell phone with me everywhere I go, and the first few months of school I was like every other college student whose face was looking down at the screen while walking to class or while eating with friends. So I stopped. I made an effort to put the phone down, sometimes even leaving it in my room (whoa!), and I began to notice the small things. The way the ice clung to the orange leaves that stayed on the trees into the winter. The way my friend’s face lit up when she saw her friend from home walk into the student center. The way someone started dancing in her chair in the café when her favorite song came on the radio, not caring who was judging her lip syncing abilities. I make an effort now to look up from my phone, my book, or my schoolwork. I’m just noticing the small things.
After coming home from college, I’ve realized that noticing the small things makes being home even better. I had forgotten how much my dog loved attention and how she bathes people with kisses. I had missed seeing my grandparents argue over where they put the telephone but then still kissing each other goodnight as they have for fifty-two years. I’ve remembered how I love summer rain and how walking out on the driveway and dancing in the pouring down rain makes me so happy! I’ve gotten to finally sit down and have hour-long conversations face-to-face with my mom and appreciating her advice. I’m noticing the small things.
I know this post is simple, but that’s the point. There is so much stress in our lives. There is so much rushing, so much worrying about where we’re going and how we’re going to get there. Slow down every once in a while and remember what makes you happy. Notice the small things with me.
Sarah Fuller is a college freshman at Elizabethtown College in Elizabethtown, Pennsylvania majoring in Early Childhood Education & Special Education. Originally from Stewartstown, Pennsylvania, Sarah was a participant in the Distinguished Young Women program and was selected as the Distinguished Young Woman of Pennsylvania for 2013. Learn more about Sarah here!