Torch

Try to be a little more like Ferris

Keena Du, Executive Opinions Editor

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Executive Opinions Editor Keena Du relaxes on the stone wall overlooking Glencoe beach. This is where Cameron entered a catatonic state due to stress in “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off.” Photo by Natan Shayevich

For most of my life I’ve been a Cameron. Afraid to leave safe quarters, always holding back, swallowing all my thoughts and opinions, probably on the road to self-imploding and going berserk. But right now, I feel undeniably Ferris. The hardwood floor of my kitchen shakes as I thump my feet and toss my head to the rhythm, belting out lyrics to framed family photos and hanging watercolor birds. The music reverberates in the hollow halls of my house, blasting through my eardrums and raising my dense spirits like fresh cake.

To think only an hour ago I was crying my eyes into a watery oblivion, two hours since I found out I was rejected from a top-choice college.

Ironically, it was all my past rejections that kept me strong in the face of this one. During my junior year in Torch, I was constantly submitting opinions and being turned down for publication. Months of frustration and confusion built up — what was I doing wrong? By March, I had my answer. Flushed with embarrassment, I wrote my first draft of the piece “Light humor, heavy heart,” a column in which I confessed to my discomfort from seemingly harmless, joking insults from a friend. It was the first column I was afraid to submit — afraid to be judged for sharing my unpopular opinion. When it was selected for publication, I was afraid then too — but I was also elated.

Vulnerability. It’s what I’d been resisting all year.

It takes a long time to learn how to be honest with an audience of over two thousand people. It takes longer when you have to be honest with yourself first. But making the choice to write about what has made me uncomfortable, what has disturbed me, what has been running through my mind all day, week, month? It has forced me to confront myself and my needs. And in confronting myself, my columns challenge others to do the same.

Following every publication come countless conversations with people who have shared, disagreed with or just been interested in my columns, and every time, both parties walk away with a new perspective in mind. Regardless of stance, these conversations wouldn’t have happened if I continued writing what was easy.

No more are the days of crouching behind uncontroversial statements. I’ve since realized that a problem oftentimes can’t even begin to be fixed without a pointing finger to bring attention to its existence. And a willingness to be the one who points her finger, or raises her hand, or opens her mouth, is terrifying yet fundamental to both personal and communal growth.

Vulnerability has taught me to be honest with myself about who I am and what I need when the truth can be excruciating. It taught me that in the face of rejection, I was still myself, and I was open to the pain that followed. I understood that it was what I needed at the time. And afterwards, I understood that what I needed was to be happy. So after finding out I’d been rejected, I didn’t throw myself a pity party — I threw myself a legitimate party. I twisted and shouted, and if you want to make your life worth stopping to look around at once in a while, then you should too.

After all, life moves pretty fast. Don’t let yourself miss any part of it.

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Try to be a little more like Ferris