I have forever admired Ferris Bueller’s incredible sense of spontaneity and the happy-go-lucky lifestyle he immortalized on film. I consider myself a person who plays it safe, while secretly harboring dreams as wild as Ferris’s reality. Nonetheless, I was always the girl to run inside when it started raining while all my friends stayed to play in the mud. I loved roller coasters, but always chose the smaller, rickety models over the bigger, faster, stronger types. And in high school, I always did every homework assignment, studied for every test and went to every class without fail.
I get the cautious nature from my mother, who takes risks, sure, but only under cautious and concrete conditions. She never restricted me from dancing in the rain and riding big roller coasters (ditching class is another story). She just wanted me to just be comfortable. But as I watched her nervous face when I told her about my future plans of skydiving, backpacking through Europe and getting a second piercing, I learned that sometimes safe meant better.
With this in mind, I spent most of my life in a state of hesitation rather than pure enjoyment and didn’t learn the difference until I forced myself to step out of my comfort zone towards the end of high school. I had been comfortable with staying in on a Saturday night to study for a Latin test until my senior year, when I slowly came to see that a little uneasiness goes a long way. Before I came to Northwestern, I promised myself that I would really live and wholeheartedly embrace the spontaneous lifestyle that Ferris perfected and that I value so much. However, breaking free from the safety of my daily routine is easier said than done. It is easier to dream about doing than actually stepping foot in the torrential downpour. Until last Wednesday.
I stumbled into 9 a.m. econ, my eyes drooping from my usual late bedtime. After another night spent in the library, making my rounds from table-to-table in Periodicals and then quietly rolling into bed while my roommate slumbered across the room, I expected the day to go as usual. You know the kind — a day filled with time wasted sitting on Norbucks couches, miscellaneous meetings and the constant battle against the urge to sleep. As I sat down, mechanically pulling out my pen and notebook, I looked over at my friend to initiate the “hi, how are you?” exchange. He clearly had other matters on his mind besides liquidity and inflation.
“What time are you done with class?” he asked, with a suggestive grin. As my best friend, he knew this question would entail a brief moment of confusion on my part followed by a questionably long period of frazzled deliberation. I told him my schedule, to which he asked if I want to go to the White Sox game with him later. Immediately, uncharacteristically and with no hesitation, I said yes. The shock on his face reflected my own surprise at my answer.
How would we get down there, all the way to the South Side and back? How would I make up the class work and lecture I would have to miss? What about breaking the routine I had slipped into so easily, the routine that seemed impenetrable to anything remotely impulsive? I had realized, almost entirely subconsciously, that I needed a day to blow off steam, a day to ditch the library and be the little girl who plays in the rain.
But rain was absolutely the last thing on my mind that day. In fact, even a thunderstorm wouldn’t have been able to rain on my parade, for lack of a better cliché. After an easy drive, we paid the disgustingly high price for parking and rolled into U.S. Cellular just in time for opening pitch. As I sat there with my veggie hot dog (never again), I turned to my friend and said the obligatory Ferris Bueller reference: “You realize if we played by rules we’d be in gym?”
I came to realize that afternoon, sitting in our reasonably priced seats without any obligations or to-do lists, that the best thing you can do when your iCal is overflowing with different colored events is to blow them all off. In college, we so easily fall into what is comfortable, always looking forward to the end of a midterm cycle or the beginning of a new quarter. But the thing about life, both in college and once we graduate into the real world, is that these unfortunate moments of stress are as much a part of our lives as the weekend fun. When you look back on past quarters here, you remember the unusual, unplanned times, the times without expectations, rules or goals. You remember doing the things you’ve always talked about doing, like playing in the rain, riding big roller coasters or ditching class to go watch baseball, in spite of the warnings Mom might have issued.
Our four years of college are too short to skip out on the days when you could be skipping everything else. Coming back to econ the following Friday, I once again sat down next to my friend, pulled out a pen and asked how he was. But this time, I couldn’t help but wish I was back neglecting all my responsibilities, watching a baseball game and taking a much needed day off.