Optimism and Reality

By Eva Szeszko ’20

As a junior last school year, Eva Szeszko became the Illinois State Champion, representing the Optimist Club of Oak Park.

“Is there a fine line between optimism and reality?” The band Queen took the world by storm during its reign in the 1970s. They introduced the world to a new type of rock and produced hit songs that are still celebrated and sung today. Of these songs, “Bohemian Rhapsody” is perhaps the most well-known. The six-minute song is an unlikely source of optimism, but upon listening to the mere first verse, I was struck with the lyrics’ undiscovered potential. In these lyrics, I found the metaphorical line between optimism and reality.

Freddie Mercury begins the song by asking, “Is this the real life? Is this just fantasy?” His rhetorical questions are the same that we must ask ourselves. Are we approaching situations realistically? Are we optimistic in setting our goals? We must ask ourselves these questions before reaching a decision. It is not enough to approach every situation with a singularly realistic point of view. With no optimism, life becomes dreary. However, on the other hand, we must make certain that optimism does not overpower our decisions and goals. Further along in the first verse, Freddie Mercury also sings the line, “Easy come, easy go.” Through this assertion, he perfectly embodies the relationship between realism and optimism. One must be able to handle any situation accordingly, but the person must also have hope that the situation will get better. Not only did Queen release an American icon, they also unlocked the secret to optimism and realism.

Realism is the tendency to accept things as they are. Optimism, at its core, is just realism interspersed with hope. An optimist must be able to look at reality with positivity and hope for a better future. Because of their relationship, optimism and realism co-exist. Being too realistic can be harmful to one’s outlook on life. Imagine a doctor telling someone that they have been diagnosed with cancer and have a slim chance of overcoming the disease. A realist would accept the diagnosis and understand that the survival rate is very low. Yet, is there not more? How can we just accept a dire situation like this, and not hope and work for a better outcome? Because of this, being too realistic is not beneficial to one’s life. One must also sprinkle in a little bit of optimism in every situation encountered. The Optimist Creed states that we must “talk health, happiness, and prosperity to every person [we] meet.” In other words, every situation can use a bit of optimism. Through this codependency, one can find the blurred line between optimism and reality.

Freddie Mercury and Queen rocked out in the 1970s. “Bohemian Rhapsody” was released in 1975.

The stereotypical idea of an optimist is one who never stops smiling, no matter the circumstances. However, this is not an accurate description. True optimists use both optimism and realism to their advantage. They use realism to accept the situation that has been handed to them. They then use optimism to make the situation better. They are able to overlook the negativity and work for a better tomorrow. These optimists may not always be sporting a smile, but they remain hopeful for a better future. They do not solely rely on realism; nor do they solely rely on optimism. Similarly, we all must find the balance between these two philosophies in order to better ourselves.

“Bohemian Rhapsody,” although an unlikely source, has been my inspiration for optimism. This example goes to show that optimism is all around us, we just need to be willing to notice. Simply put, we must look at each situation realistically. Then, just over the horizon, the shining rays of optimism must be found. At that intersection, we all will find the “Fine Line Between Optimism and Reality.”

Optimist International is an international service club organization with almost 3,000 clubs and over 80,000 members in more than 20 countries. 

About the Author

Representing the Optimist Club of Oak Park, Eva Szeszko, now a Fenwick senior (from Park Ridge), won the state championship last spring in Normal, IL, at the annual District Oratorical Contest — and took home a $2,500 scholarship prize. “From her movements and gestures to her delivery, Eva executed her speech perfectly,” praises proud coach/teacher Mr. Andy Arellano. Fellow Friar Blair Lepore ’21 (Chicago) placed second and received a $1,500 scholarship. Ms. Szeszko represented the Illinois District in St. Louis this past July.

Speech at Fenwick

Sophomore speech, a course requirement for all Fenwick students, has been taught at Fenwick for the past 48 years by Mr. Andy Arellano. Countless alumni from all walks of life who work in myriad fields — from lawyers and doctors to astro-physicists — credit their public-speaking tutelage as young Friars with helping them to advance in their careers.

Each school year, Mr. Arellano encourages students to participate in a variety of oratorical competitions. The VFW (Veterans of Foreign Wars) recently began to announce the winners in its annual contest, in which 12 Friars competed. “Fenwick students have currently won $2,475 in this year’s contest,” Arellano reports, “with some awards still pending.” The following students received recognition and/or monetary awards for being winners in their local post competitions before moving on to the various VFW District contests:

Sophomores

  • William Finley won 3rd place and $100 from Post 10778 in Western Springs.
  • Kathryn Nairn won 1st place from Post 7446 in Addison (prize TBD).
  • Camille Nourie won 1st place and $100 from Post 2729 in Chicago and 3rd place in the 3rd District and another $100.
  • Amelia Scharpf won 1st place and $100 from Post 2868 in Brookfield.
  • Keeley Sikora won 1st place and $100 from Post 198 in Chicago, and 2nd place in the 3rd District and another $200.

Juniors

  • Anna Dray won 1st place and $100 from Post 6663 in Glen Ellyn and 5th place in the 19th District and another $150.
  • Clare Hill won 1st place and $100 from Post 8322 in Chicago.
  • James Owens won 2nd place and $150 from Post 10778 in Western Springs.
  • Devan Pietrzak won 1st place and $200 from Post 10778 in Western Springs and 2nd place in the 4th District and another $300.
  • Lauren Schleiter—won 1st place and $300 from Post 2801 in Villa Park and 4th place from the 19th District and another $175.
  • Narayan Sharma—won 2nd place and $200 from Post 7539 in Bloomingdale.
  • Anton Torchia—won 1st place and $100 from Post 1284 in Chicago. 

Sophomore Keeley Sikora and junior Devan Pietrzak narrowly missed qualifying for the state championship tournament.

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