I read on the admissions website, “There are no ordinary days, only extraordinary ones.”
Yet, for me as a rising junior, I have had plenty of ordinary days. The campus buzzes around me as I’m walking to class, but I’m not even thinking about the extraordinary vs. the ordinary – I’ve just got five minutes to make it to DeBart. There are days that’ll I’ll see someone taking a picture of touchdown Jesus or even the Golden Dome and I have to stop and think, “Oh yeah, that – it is pretty cool!” When you walk by something every day, or can see it right outside your window, the extraordinary can very easily become the ordinary. It takes a little bit of an accident to see everything with fresh eyes again. I remember one day, I was walking through God quad, passing some trees, and I suddenly felt compelled to look up at one. All in a rush, the thought hit me, “Wow. That is a beautiful tree.” For just a few seconds I was taken back to a feeling when everything on campus was new and extraordinary to me – and there I was, gawking at a bunch of trees like I’d never seen one.
What was it like when I first arrived here? It was new, it was exciting, and there were so many unknowns – how I would change throughout my time at Notre Dame and what would become of my ideas, values, and beliefs. This was the time before I was comfortable. This was a time when I still had a bit of an adrenaline rush while walking into a room full of people I’d never met. Yes, it was undoubtedly extraordinary – seeing Notre Dame with fresh eyes is an experience unparalleled. The pamphlets and brochures you’ve been reading over and stories you’ve been told finally come to life when you first step on campus as a freshman. I knew I was going to occupy this little space in the world for the next four years, and I also knew this little space could have the greatest impact.
As I write this, I’m looking out over campus from the 12th floor of the library, just as I did my first few weeks of freshman year. The photo posted is one I took almost two years ago from the library window as I was studying for my first chemistry test.
Between these buildings and these sidewalks - this is where my life happened. I’m looking at Cavanaugh Hall right now, and from up above, blending in with other buildings and covered by trees, it’s hard to see as more than just a building. Yet, Cavanaugh has housed my laughter, frustrations, triumphs, and tears, and put a roof over some of the best friendships I’ve ever known. I don’t mean friendship in the sense of we take selfies and bake cookies together (even though selfies do happen and the baking consists of mostly selfies), but I’m talking about real, honest-to-goodness friendship. I don’t know how to describe it other than, if I’m ever having a really hard time, I know I have those friends who would drop what they’re doing, whatever it is, and go to the Huddle and get ice cream with me – and I would do the same for them. That’s what I love the most about ND, relationships mean a lot to us here and we always have people who go above and beyond the ice cream standard (or whatever standard… ice cream, specifically, might just be me).
I’m amazed; I’ve learned it’s never been about the grandiose football stadium or the shiny golden dome, but instead it’s about the people these things represent and what we can accomplish as a community, both academically and athletically, and in the world around us. Because of this, I think we should buy everyone shiny, golden-dome-inspired headgear to wear around on campus, because that’s the real tourist attraction – if you’re looking to take pictures of what makes this university magnificent, then look no further than the Notre Dame community and the generations of people who’ve built it.
Although, in reality, if you started taking pictures of people on the sidewalk, they’re going to be a little freaked out. And… no one’s going to wear headgear.
Scratch that last idea. It’s only rhetorical.
Regardless, I’m glad to have taken the time to think about what it means to have only “extraordinary” days here at Notre Dame. I’ve come to the realization that extraordinary is always somewhere in the background, even on those days where I don’t personally feel like a bucket of sunshine. Extraordinary is in the people, professors, and friends that surround me and in the Domers who filled the dorms, classrooms, and student sections before me. Extraordinary is what happens on these 1250 acres that causes thousands of people from all over the world to call Notre Dame home. For this, I’m glad to be here and I look forward to the days ahead.