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Kirk: Taking an extra moment

Frances Kirk

Humans can’t help but take things for granted. No matter how novel or special something seems at first, it always seems to shrink in our eyes over time. 
When I first started at Clemson, everything seemed so big. I came from a high school of about 2,000 students, so everything seemed scaled up when I walked through campus the first time. Even the trees seemed bigger than at home. 
The novelty stayed throughout my freshman year as I struggled to find my place on campus and learn how to be away from home for the first time. The only place that felt safe, for a time, was our windowless corner of campus in The Tiger office.
Rather than feeling like a small fish in a big pool, the little office was cramped with our 30 members trading jokes, ideas and AP style guides.
My freshman year was cut short due to COVID-19 and my family decided it was best for all of us if I stayed home for the fall of 2020. When I arrived back on campus in the spring of 2021, it somehow felt bigger than when I left. With online classes, campus seemed barren of the life that once flowed through it between classes. 
I was so happy to be back on campus that spring; I was able to hold onto the novelty from my freshman year and enjoy every moment back with my friends after nine months away. 
But when life got back to normal this fall, I fell into a rhythm. I went to class, I went to club rowing practice, I went to newspaper meetings and I’d spend time with my friends on the weekends. With my busy schedule, I no longer stopped to marvel at the beauty of campus or look up at the trees I once thought were so big two years before. I even got used to the Clemson sunsets I would watch from the boat each night on Lake Hartwell. 
While campus seemed to shrink, our news office grew. Not literally, but our three-week escapade to rearrange the office made the windowless room more open and airy, but still filled with all the life from my freshman year. 
Especially since I am leaving Clemson a year earlier than average, it was easy to ignore graduation looming in the distance and just try to make it to Friday each week. It wasn’t until newspaper elections and the end of my rowing season that I started to panic that I hadn’t been savoring every day here with as much joy as I had in the past.
I’ve taken normal life for granted this year. I acted as though I would always walk across Bowman to class and would see the Clemson sunset for the rest of my life. Now, as the sun sets later every day, I realize that I will never see a Clemson sunset from the boat again.
There are things I didn’t say goodbye to at the time because I treated them as forever. I forgot to sit still for a moment during my last football game to appreciate Death Valley. I forgot to take a picture of the newspaper office before we renovated. I failed to realize my last sunset on the lake was, in fact, my last. 
The past two months I have put my entire heart into Clemson before it’s too late. I’ve taken more pictures of my friends, spent more time on campus and less in my bedroom and really tried to appreciate a lecture that I hate. I’m appreciating each moment.
So here’s what I’ll say to all of you, whether you are graduating or not:
It’s in human nature to take life for granted. We can’t help but get used to Clemson despite the novelty we once felt towards it. I wouldn’t have taken the time to fully embrace campus these past few months unless I realized I was losing it. But as this academic year has come to an end, I hope you can do the same as me and take an extra moment to realize how special this place is.
Pull out your AirPods on your way to class and listen to the chimes from Old Main. Look at the way the sun shines on the reflection pond at noon. Most importantly, notice each and every person who moves around you during a class break.
There was one time, not so long ago, when we couldn’t see each other moving through campus every day. Soon, I will walk the stage and never be one of those students again.
So even on your way into your lab that you hate, don’t forgot to embrace every moment, because it doesn’t last forever.
Frances Kirk is graduating with a degree in political science and was the associate editor for The Tiger.

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