Phases yield valuable understanding of one’s self

LEGALLY BLONDE: Driving a boat, sophomore Graham looks ahead as the wind blows his blonde hair back. Graham bleached his hair in the summer of 2016: just one of his many phases.

LEGALLY BLONDE: Driving a boat, sophomore Graham looks ahead as the wind blows his blonde hair back. Graham bleached his hair in the summer of 2016: just one of his many phases.

Aidan Graham, senior editor

Those who know me know that high school has seen many different sides of Aidan Graham. I sometimes see my teachers from freshman year when I walk through the halls and wonder if they still remember me as the obnoxious, plump, button-down-tucked-into-my-pastel-shorts-wearing kid who would never shut up in class. It’s easy to see how high school fosters change if one simply compares who I was freshman year with who I am now, but such a comparison wouldn’t warrant an accurate understanding of how I transitioned.

“It’s not a phase!”, I would declare whenever I adopted some new, obscure interest. As a freshman, I became enthralled with the idea of bleaching my hair for the summer. Where did I get this idea? Fifa 15: yes, the video game.

I would see soccer players with all sorts of interesting haircuts and think: that looks really cool. And so, disregarding the advice I got from my friends and family, I decided to bleach my hair.

Such a cut, accompanied with my preppy wardrobe of the time, with my newest mix-ins of Hawaiian shirts and bucket hats, made for some very unique photos that summer. I even kept it going through homecoming my sophomore year, eventually dying it back to brown,  unfortunately producing a chemical reaction with the bleach, turning it green for a while. But each time a phase ended for me, it seemed as though a new one would begin.

Sophomore to junior year, I blew hundreds of dollars I made from my job at Noodles and Company at the thrift store. Every Monday, I recall heading over to Savers on Milwaukee (which sadly no longer exists), to take part in their 50 percent off deal. I would buy everything from Naf Naf Grill employee uniforms to sport coats, coming home to disapproving looks from my mom, unhappy that I had blown another $30 on “some of the ugliest stuff she had ever seen,” to which I would respond: “Mom, this is fresh, trust me.”

This year, while no longer sporting Carl’s XXL John Deere pullover or some dad’s old Christmas sweater, I became vegan for about three months after watching What the Health on Netflix. I was fully convinced that I could maintain the diet forever, until a tragic meal of nachos at an Ohio State University football game. Not to mention my short but sweet stint with an earring, that, if you went to this year’s Variety Show, you could see twinkling from the nosebleeds.

So yes, the chapters of my high school epic have been filled with phases; my interests change, fads come and go, what I liked a week ago I may hate tomorrow. When I look back on those family photos, thrift shop purchases, or uneaten frozen bean burgers glaring at me from my freezer, it’s hard not to cringe at the thought of what I used to get myself into. What’s easy however, is having no regrets about the path I’ve taken to becoming who I am.

If you had told me freshman year that I would become vegan or bleach my hair, you would’ve gotten quite a chuckle out of that chunky, wanna-be frat boy. The beauty of growing up is in the changes we make throughout that process. If you’re interested in something, explore that passion because you’ll never know what you’ll learn about yourself along the way.

No matter how odd I may think they are now, I wouldn’t be the person I am today without my phases. And always remember, as the famed country singer Dolly Parton once said: “There can’t be a rainbow without a little rain.”