Faster than Ferris

A classic ‘80s movie says more about college than one might think

The strongest guidance I ever received came to me at the ripe age of 11 in a VHS recording of “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off.” While my initial appreciation for this cinematic tour de force was the result of the ingenious and humorous scheming of the male lead, I later recognized that when it comes to defining a successful life, even the ideals of Confucius appear insignificant next to the world according to Ferris.

Although his stylish delinquent feats are impressive, I find the spirit with which he approaches his agenda more intriguing than any of his actual accomplishments. No character proposes a more infallible formula for happiness: one part zeal, one part confidence and a heavy dose appreciation for each day as a masterpiece in and of itself.

If Ferris has reinforced one thing for me, it’s the simple principle of: “It’s not what you do, but how you do it.” Approaching every challenge, as daunting or as insignificant as it may be, with a cheerful, “to hell with it” — dare I say “YOLO” — disposition allows me to confidently take ownership of my life and all of its eye-roll-worthy, stress-inducing and awkward-silence-ridden moments.

Granted, I don’t steal Ferraris and crash parades on the daily, and I do strive to get my assignments in by 11:59 p.m., but I definitely appreciate Ferris’ advice about foregoing the mundane once in a while.

Happiness is inextricably linked to passion and vivacity. In order to be happy, or at least to survive in this dog-eat-dog world, you have to embrace the ordinary. To quote a British pop sensation, you need to “spice up your life.”

Making ordinary moments exciting is how you turn a routine life into an effervescent one. Ferris refuses to let his days become saturated by apathy — though Ben Stein’s character may wish otherwise. Commonplace moments beg to be enlivened with spontaneity. I am that girl, the one dancing down the Harris Teeter aisles, indifferent to — or secretly delighted by — others watching me. These uncontrollable expressions of joy are the splashes that turn the dull canvas of a Monday into a masterpiece.
It is my instinctive desire to live with bliss, channeling my inner-Ferris into every aspect of existence. A kick-ass resume compiled during these four years is nothing more than a checklist if you spend college secluded in the stacks. A resume will be handy to whip out of your back pocket while hunting for jobs, but what about the everyday occurrences that become ridiculously embellished tales further down the road?

I am forever considering the astute philosophy Ferris presents in saying, “Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.”. Four years will fly. Come commencement day, I will proudly toast with a glass half-full, utterly content at having approached even my life’s most casual moments with a Bueller-esque zest.

Katherine Colver’s column runs biweekly Tuesdays. She can be reached at

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