Advice from a St. Olaf senior citizen


Anyone new to the St. Olaf campus in the past few weeks has probably noticed them— herds upon herds of geriatric, hunched over people limping and caning about. They complain endlessly about the many things St. Olaf has lost, mostly in the caf the trays, the pancakes, and the eternally cherished omelet line —rest in peace. One learns to tune us out eventually— don’t worry too much about it. 

Our joints hurt, and our hair is turning gray, for Father Time has snuck up on us, and our only coping mechanism is whining endlessly. However, I’d like to think that in our time at St. Olaf we’ve collected more than complaints, brittle bones, and wrinkles. Hindsight is 20/20, and I’d like to think that we elders on campus have some advice to share with you bright-eyed first years.

College is a wonderful opportunity to metamorphosize. Many use it as a chance to put off the inevitable “real world” but go nowhere with that blessed opportunity. This isn’t a place to hide, it’s a privilege that all of you first years are just embarking on— you’ve chosen to give yourself time and space to change. Don’t miss your chance to do it. 

Grab onto chances to try things. Do it all four years. Be disciplined in chasing who you want to become.

Time spent at St. Olaf is a game of routines. Classes will attempt to sink you into a muddy singletrack towards a speedy graduation. Work will try to convince you that routine is essential regardless of how much you hate it. The “real world” is a place where routine is prized. Here’s the thing that they won’t tell you— it’s essential to choose your routine for yourself. The only routine you should commit yourself to is the one that takes you to the person you want to be.

Practice your skills. Practice expanding your horizons. Practice opening yourself to it all— meeting new people and tasting, feeling, and experiencing that which makes you happy. Not “I’m getting a dopamine rush from this flickering phone screen” happy, but “I’m falling in love, this music is resonating through my bones, and I can’t wait to wake up tomorrow morning” type of happy. Routinely escape your routine— it’s slowly trying to kill you.

Time flies. Time is money. Time is also yours to claim, and from one current senior to all of you future seniors— use yours wisely.

Justin Vorndran ’23 is from Osceola, Wis.

His Major is English.


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