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The Art of Noticing

The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.
This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at SLU chapter.

“Circle the nouns, and underline the verbs,” said the tutor, as she taught the kindergartener about the components of a sentence.

“Well, how do I know what a verb is?” she inquired politely.

“Did you talk about it in class today?” the tutor asked back.

“What do you think?” the little girl said slyly, giggling as she snacked on her goldfish.

“Well, missy,” the tutor said, “a verb is a word in the sentence that shows action. A noun is a word that is a person, place or thing. Let’s do number one together. The cupcake tastes delicious. What is the noun in that sentence, and what is the verb?”

“Is it ‘tastes’?” she asked.

“Yes, it sure is! Now, you try to do number two. The grass is green.”

“Grass is the noun, and I think ‘is’ is the verb, but it doesn’t show an action,” she said.

You know when they say, “Kids are the greatest teachers?” I have to agree with that funny little saying because as long as we can stand back and be self-aware enough to notice what they are trying to teach us, it is true.

The things in life that matter most: friendship, love, family, joy—these things are ironically not nouns at all: they are actually verbs. In reality, they are all about the doing, the action itself to create the noun.

Friendship is defined as “the state of being friends.” Family is also a part of this definition–they just happen to also be the blood-relations we are friends with. While that definition is true to a certain extent, there are a thousand other little things that create friendship. The beautiful thing about friendships and family friendships is that they are like fingerprints—they are all unique. 

But truly, actions one after another, compiled over days, weeks, months and years make friendships what they are. Friendship is sharing a good belly laugh, making a call during lunch to check in, embracing in a goodnight hug, or if you’re like me, hiding in the pantry closet waiting for your friends to come home so you can scare them! So yes, friendship is itself a noun, but it is made up of all the little moments of celebrating your friends in the highs and the lows that enable you to notice who is really living out the call of friendship. So many people throw around this word, but how many of us are truly supporting one another even when things don’t go in our favor? This is what the art of noticing is all about.

While happiness is something we are constantly seeking, joy is more of something we embody, something that we are. Instead of saying, “I feel happy. I feel joyful,” we should practice switching to, “I am joyful. I am happy.” Why don’t we shift from the mindset of just feeling these things to truly embodying them? This would allow us to step into the emotion, learn from it and live the full potential of that emotion. It’s learning to practice the art of noticing these things that we label as nouns, and transitioning to learning how they feel as verbs, how we live them out. Maybe joy to you is taking a midday walk, calling your mom up on the phone or waking up early to watch the sunrise. These actions–these verbs–are how we live a purposeful life.

Oscar Wilde, an Irish writer, once said, “If you know exactly what you want to be in life, a teacher, a grocer, a judge, or a soldier, you will become it. That is your punishment. Actually not knowing what you want to be, reinventing yourself every morning, not being a noun, but a verb. Being moving in life, not being fixed in life is a privilege. Even though it’s difficult sometimes, don’t feel bad about not knowing. I think it is the most wonderful thing to be open. To be a permanent student if you can, in the mind.

To Wilde’s point, being a verb, living in a state of fluidity allows you to move through life with an effortless grace, removing the external pressures of what you’re supposed to be and allowing yourself to just be. Recognizing the common nouns in our lives, such as roommates, home, car, work, family, and practicing the art of noticing makes these words, the verbs or actions, more meaningful.

“Alright, I think I got it. Number three.” said the little girl. “My family loves me. ‘Family’ is the noun and ‘loves’ is the verb?”

“You got it, darling! And how does your family show that they love you?” “Well, every day when I get home from school they…” and off she went explaining all the ways her family has shown her love. This, my friends, is the art of noticing.

Hi! I’m a graduate student pursuing my Masters in Business Administration with a concentration in Data Analytics. I’m from St. Louis, Missouri, born and raised. I could tell you about my hobbies and how I spend my free time, but instead, here is an organized yet chaotic list of things I love: cowgirl boots, Taco Buddha, scaring my roommates when they come home, walks down west pine, going for drives and singing songs with the windows down, sunsets, the Business School atrium, Emma Chamberlain, bold fashion statements, making Tik Toks, my new Stanley cup with a handle, and teaching Jazzercise.