Senior’s hair change prompts reflection on UD experience

Andrew Harbach – Senior, Chemical Engineering

I bleached my hair this past week. I thought recent events called for a dramatic change. I half-wanted not to be able to recognize the man staring back in the mirror.

Pending May’s closure of this chapter at the University of Dayton, newfound sentiments of independence settle themselves in like a first year getting a random roommate—when excitement of the unknown stirs, all the while ensued by the fear of which bunk you’ll have to sleep on. I would like to think I have learned a few things during my years at this amazing university; although, please do not mistake me for being mature or wise. I rely on my family and housemates more than I probably should, and much of my epiphanic realizations have come from midnight conversations with friends and those who care about me.

Musicians don’t retire until they have no more music in them (or so I’ve been told), and I feel like Aaron Carter trying to relaunch his “I Want Candy” campaign as I start my next adventure of graduation, commencement into my career and attempt to “grow up,” if you will. But in all honesty, life is about continuing to sing, despite whatever heartache exists. All suffering involves some sort of loss from our “expectations,” and having attempted to swallow my own recent weightiness, I have found the last bit of song that I can, and with the amazing people I have met in the last few months, I have built myself a rock band. It did not come together in an instant—it took some rising from the smoke …literally… as I saw myself beginning to buy cigarettes to cope with some of the stress associated with being a college-Casanova. Every time I purchased a new pack, I participated in the common praxis of flipping one for good luck—thus finding myself a patron of bad habit, all the while hoping more and more for some scrape of good fortune to find its way into my pocket. Amongst some poor decisions, and despite some lapses in judgment, I have found confidence and peace—and at the same time, allocated a few leaving pieces of advice for the “new-ropes” socializer:

  1. Always, ALWAYS question your intentions before any decision or life choice. Many of my mistakes have come through failing to place myself in the shoes of others, and instead relying on my own unanalyzed motivations.
  2. Realize you have a voice, whether that voice is quietly expressed through whatever talents you gift to this campus, or whether it is outspoken and charismatic. In parallel, understand your problems are not insignificant, even if you feel like someone will not understand. There is always care for your well-being.
  3. Memories are precious and the soul of the past (yes, even the tough ones)—for what is life, if we are to forever feign forgetfulness?
  4. Probably the most important “F” word one could ever learn to master would be forgiveness. Forgive. Even if you have a fire burning in you for someone you just cannot put out. The toxicity of that flame can only burn you. And likewise, be apologetic when you violate trust.
  5. Prayer is about relationship with whomever/whatever you perceive to be greater than you. When you suffer and in your pain you feel forsaken, be fully aware God is suffering right alongside you.
  6. Force yourself to smile, even in your low points. Sometimes, laughing at your own reaction to hardship can bring you to peace.
  7. When you feel alone, make your way home. Wherever that home is for you.
  8. It is alright to ask for help.
  9. Love uncontrollably. Realizing sometimes the antithesis of love is wisdom and if you are to love, at times, you must deject the idea of wise behavior in hopes of selflessly giving yourself to a greater good. Sometimes to love is to let go of control. Do so with pride and never fear the opinions of others. Be real with yourself and allow karmatic balance to oversee society’s perception of you.
  10. Read voraciously. That is where you will find more knowledge than anything else.
  11. Adventure to push your comfort zone at its seams—and, at times, do the opposite of what you would normally do. Some of the best results come from the unexpected. Break routines and patterns. Habits can grow into vices.
  12. Take care of your health.
  13. Talk to strangers – despite what you learned in the third grade.

Being a Flyer has been a privilege. I take more than just a piece of paper adorned with a degree from this beautiful place with me as I move out to Michigan come June.

God bless.