If you told my Harris-lunchin’, fist-bumpin’ self Freshman year that upon graduation I would have worshipped the moon with dozens of witches, dated a man, recreated an MTV dating reality show, and hit up a nude beach in Spain, l probably would have tried to make an example out of you by ripping your heart out Aztec-style and feeding it to Helen Peabody at midnight. As a freshman I was determined to not make any waves and to seek approval by people-pleasing my way up the social ladder. If I could change one thing about my college journey, I would be fearlessly and unconditionally myself from my first Tuffy’s toasted roll. I all-too-slowly found that breaking the mold of perfection and being the quirky weirdo who laughs at the wrong part of the jokes and drops his pants in Farmer is what makes you cool. Once I figured this out, I felt like I was on top of the world; I had the best friends I could ever ask for, a family and department that believes in me, safe and exciting weekend plans, and an on-campus meal plan as a senior. Sometimes I walk to campus exclusively to get a stirfry from Bell Tower then immediately b-line home to eat it. I can feel your judgement through the pages. Stop that.
Regardless of my findings, last semester I began to feel empty again. Being comfortable is boring. I needed something in my life to make me squirm again. If you’re not pushing yourself out of your comfort zone on a somewhat regular basis, you’ll never grow, and college will swallow you up like the King Café smoothies we all pretend to enjoy. I have learned so much but have shared it with almost no one.
In an effort to have YOLO-Swag senior year, I decided I needed to make some moves. As a part of an independent study with the Entrepreneurship department with Jim Friedman, I decided I wanted to do a 12 week experiment called #BreakTheRULES that made me want to jump out of the top level of the Armstrong Student Center each week. (I chose Armstrong because I’m 40% sure that drop wouldn’t kill me. Probably just break my legs, and my pride.) The 12 weeks included 2 music videos and 10 comfort-zone-squashing experiences that raised the eyebrows of my peers, the faculty, and (for some reason) strangers around the world.
Here are some of my main takeaways from my journey through the awkward. I did the crazy so you don’t have too. I hope they inspire you to do something you wouldn’t normally do with that person you least expect to tag along.
Pretending to be a Freshman Transfer Student: You may think people have stopped looking for friends… but they haven’t. I recommend keeping the pathological lying to a minimum, but I still hang out with some of the people I met from my freshman farce!
Celebrating the Festival of Imbolc with the witches: Wiccans are normal (and awesome) people. Just because someone’s religious views are left of center doesn’t make them terrifying or weird. I didn’t get crushed by a house, but I did drink a love potion that totally worked… for like a week. Not joking.
Recreating MTV’s Dating in the Dark: Girls would rather have $5 than go on a second date with me after seeing my face. That’s cool, I guess. Love potion over.
Exchanging Secrets With Strangers: We should all be terrified by what our generation is capable of. Just kidding. People are willing to share immensely personal information about themselves if you pry for it. With juicy secrets like stolen legal documents and wild sexual encounters at church camp being shared by our classmates, be careful… or NOT CAREFUL… what you ask for… if you’re smelling what I’m stepping in.
Crash Dieting For a Week: Starving yourself does not make you the best version of yourself. If you’re really hungry, you should eat something. Be healthy and be YOU.
Gay for a Day: Joining the gay community made me a little squeamish. After immersing myself in their culture, though, I had a blast. I dated one of my best guy friends and I was pleasantly surprised with how we were full-heartedly accepted as a hot romantic item among a small group of heterosexual couples. Sexuality is just one thing that makes up a person; no one should be viewed differently for their lifestyles. I feel like a more genuinely loving person after being gay for a day.
Knitting with the Grannies: Grannies just want to be loved. It was cougarific. Also, if you put 3 male twentysomethings in a room with needles, yarn, and senior women, things get oddly and fiercely competitive. Peace, love, and puncture wounds.
Hitting up the Spanish Nude Beach: Someone please tell me why being naked is a big deal. We didn’t fly out of the womb in swim trunks. Go skinny dipping with your friends or something. Also, the Mediterranean Sea is cold; tread with caution, nudies.
Bartering for Wagon Rides: Miami students do not want to barter for a ride to class in my wagon. Uber, you’re safe for now.
BreakTheRules Bingo: No one got a bingo and this entire semester was a huge waste of time. Just kidding! #GoodFailure
My #BreakTheRules adventure has been priceless and one of my defining experiences at Miami. I am an overall more understanding, loving, and fearless individual. I fully intend to bring everything I have learned into my post-grad life and to continue to push myself to sensibly toy with the wild and crazy. I recommend you do the same, and then tell me about it. We can do it together! I’m diggy down for whatever at this point.
^^ Come see our final modern dance performance on Wednesday at 4:10 in Phillips Hall, our class HATES us!
Huge thanks to Jeff & Jamie Stagnaro, Jake McCullough, Bryson Beaver, Graham Bowling, Allison Hoornbeek, Erica Griffith, and others for letting me ruin their lives for the sake of creativity. Love you guys tons <3.
Also thank YOU for over 12,000 reads and 6,200 visitors from over 40 countries. I never thought being goon with my besties for a semester would get so much support.
Final Jaekle Jam:
^^ SMILE CUZ IT HAPPENED. Best 4 years ever.