One of the sections included in the annual Senior Edition is a series of essays titled Seniors Speak. These works are written and submitted to The Acronym by members of the graduating class, allowing them to reflect on their experiences, share advice, and advocate for change. The writer of this piece is Lucy Liu (Harvard ‘22), who lived in 1501 and loved Sodexo baked potatoes.
There’s comfort in tearing things apart, in the glow of skepticism and what-ifs. Being the commentator, interpreter, evaluator of someone else’s work feels like staying dry as a thunderstorm rages. You get to sigh, “Phew, I’m not the one getting judged right now.” To stare out the window and watch the rain. To offer suggestions and comments and have your voice heard. To invest yourself, but only if you feel like it. To be clever, cool, and most importantly, safe.
Listen closely and you’ll hear the storm murmuring, “Feeling inadequate is terrifying. Doing your best is terrifying; your best might be inadequate. Caring is terrifying; you might do your best. Being anything conspicuous is terrifying; you might start caring.”
Rain is rain, relentless and entrancing. Its message of fear latches onto you slowly and unnoticeably, until you can’t remember life without it. So here we are, striving endlessly to be uncontroversial, so scared of getting wet that we never leave our homes. We sit pretty, offering criticism but nothing to criticize. Why is that something to be proud of? Yes, being realistic and critical is important. And yes, giving good feedback is hard work. Embracing creativity, vitality, and authenticity, though, is far more challenging and far more valuable.
Sitting too still is like an old school wooden pencil: it gets dull. To stretch your legs, you have to stand up for something. Forget winning the debate, just start the discussion. Brainstorm ideas that are absurd. Argue something just because you can. Write stuff that doesn’t make sense. Let yourself be hypocritical, unconventional, naive, inconsistent, unrealistic, just for a moment. Fall in love with something you’re good at, fall in love with something you’re bad at. Do something that’s really different, do something that’s really the same. Just, do something. Will you ever have a better place to than here at IMSA?
We may be the guinea pigs in this learning laboratory, but you should get to experiment, too. Confused about who you are, what you believe in, and what you want in life? So is everyone else, and we’re going to be okay. Those beliefs and opinions that we so fear claiming are like dresses; you won’t know which fits you best until you try them all on. So try them all on.
I know you can’t just go around saying whatever you want, and trying on dresses takes forever and some of us have schedules to keep to, and I’m not saying hypocrisy is good, and of course during interviews and first impressions and in-class essays you—
Wait, that’s both not the point and exactly the point. Allow these fears to win every time, and they’ll erode you until you have nothing left to say or share. There have been too many ideas withheld, questions left unasked, and goals left unpursued. We hide them away because we’re scared of how they might represent us. Because we’re scared of both what we are and what we aren’t enough of.
But so what if someone notices how you’re too loud or optimistic or stubborn or uncertain or x or y or z? It means there’s something about you worth noticing. And so what if you waste some effort chasing an idea of yours into a dead end? So did everyone you’ve ever looked up to. They all started somewhere; how about you start here? You’re beautiful. You’re brilliant. Come on, let’s taste the citrus thrill of presenting a piece of our souls to the world.
Yeah, it’s pouring out there. Dance in the rain with me?