Don’t get hooked onto one path

Kaylyn Du, Executive Opinions Editor

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Photo Illustration by Lucia Bosacoma

For the past year, I’ve lived and breathed this question. I’ve heard it from my parents while scarfing down dinner, watched as it plagued conversations with my teachers and cringed upon hearing my friends ask the same question and eagerly await my answer.

“Would you rather be a big fish in a little pond or a little fish in a big pond?”

My parents, in particular, constantly asked me this question throughout my entire college decision process, to which I would always respond, “What about all the medium-sized fish and medium-sized ponds?”

That conversation never ended well.

It was understandable. They were curious about which pond I was going to choose, and I was too. Did I want to be the fearless leader of the pack, standing out among my peers? Or did I want to be a normal kid, blending into the crowd and escaping my peers’ incessant judgement? I had a choice: I could either be burdened with the pressure of being a majestic role model or I could be invisible, wistfully dwelling on what I could be.

Neither option was very appealing to me.

I didn’t realize it then, but my entire high school career has revolved around the little fish, big fish phenomenon. I was once a little fish, a Glenbrook North freshman who wanted to fit in, meaning that I would never use my locker and that using a lunch tray would be the end of me. As the months passed, I learned more about GBN. I learned to cover my ears before Mr. Timmer could slap his desk at some profound sentence about claiming my education. I learned that CPR is a lot harder than it looks in the movies, and I learned in Driver’s Education just how bad of a driver I was (I crashed into a snowbank twice, but it’s fine).

During my sophomore and junior year, I learned to switch between being a little and big fish. I learned that sometimes it’s better to stick to the status quo rather than, as Mrs. Fraser would say, find yourself up the proverbial creek. When I joined Torch my junior year, I finally understood how difficult yet rewarding it is to have a leadership position chock-full of deadlines, strenuous work days and a need for constant communication with others. Both experiences have taught me lessons I plan to follow for a long time.

Senior year has been my year as the “big fish in a little pond.” What once seemed terrifying at GBN has now become habit. I walk into the (once intimidating) Academic Resource Center like it’s my second home, stroll into the SAC like it’s no big deal and saunter out of the cafeteria with a delicious sandwich in hand (sorry parapros). It has been a year of fearlessness, whether that be writing a controversial column about race or speaking about women’s lack of equal opportunity in front of my entire class, I have found this part of my niche at GBN.

I have been both the little and big fish throughout my high school career, and I’ve come to realize how important it is to experience both perspectives. I’ve learned I can be both a leader who takes charge and someone who’s okay with staying behind the scenes. Each option offers a unique learning experience.

So to answer the question, “Would you rather be a big fish in a little pond or a little fish in a big pond?”

The answer is both.

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Don’t get hooked onto one path