St. Olaf Sentiments: Everything has changed

Everything has changed.

Do you ever feel like that?

Do you ever experience a moment in which you look around, into every corner of your life, and everything looks a little different than before?

In these fresh and turbulent young years of our lives, things are always changing: relationships, interests, hairstyles, lactose tolerance levels, goals. Some things are changing so slowly that you probably won’t notice until two or three months from now. And some things that seemed like they might never change, or that you had hoped might never change, suddenly become unrecognizable.

I realize I’m using the word “change” a ton, but just bear with me.

Every year at college, I’ve found, seems to have a different personality and a different atmosphere. Our rooms change, our classes change, even our friends change. These changes can affect us in really major ways and can freak us out and make us feel like we’re lost without a map or a compass.

My summer between freshman and sophomore year gave me a greatly different perspective on life, a perspective so different that part of me doesn’t recognize the person I was last year. I got the chance to travel around and live in Norway all summer long. I got to learn and develop in a new environment, and through that, I’ve found that I’m passionate about things I’d felt separated from before. I discovered that I’m capable of a lot more than I thought I was.

Many people that I am close with and love also had very formative summers. They, too, discovered new sides of themselves that they brought back to the Hill, and in the months that we were away, became more of who they are going to become. Because of my personal changes and those of the people around me here at St. Olaf, this year has been and will continue to be drastically different from the last.

At first, many of these differences were really disturbing to me and to my schema of how St. Olaf should be. Don’t get me wrong, some changes were fabulous. As a sophomore, I don’t feel scrutinized in the same way that I did when I was a first-year. Coming into this year, I felt like I knew what to expect academically and felt like I understood the system of the school in a way that I couldn’t possibly at the beginning of my college career.

But some of my personal relationships and dynamics changed in ways I didn’t expect and didn’t want. I fell into the trap of wanting things to be like they used to, without understanding or accepting that they inevitably would be different. I wasn’t prepared for things to be as they had become.

It’s alright to feel lost in these differences; it’s alright to feel like you don’t know where or who you are anymore, because it will pass. These shimmers and distortions in my mental world have been weird, to be honest, but they’ve also shown me truths previously hidden and given me a deeper understanding of the world around me and the people that inhabit it.

I promise you – you who are going through major changes that make you feel lost and abandoned, you who aren’t sure how to deal with the new personality of the 2016-2017 school year – that things will be alright. I promise you that what once was unrecognizable will become the new normal and you’ll be able to find yourself again in your new world. You might be changed for the better by the things that have happened. You’ll start to love this year like you loved the last, even if for very different reasons.

Changes can be difficult, and I personally hate them, but they will happen and we will become more of ourselves because of them.

So try to be prepared, because everything, undeniably and inevitably, will change.