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#HonorsProblems: Be Weird, and Be Better for It

The following blog post was written by Aaron, a junior in the Elliott School studying conflict resolution and psychology. Aaron is also the peer advisor training coordinator! You can learn more about him here.

“You’ve got to embrace your inner strange, man. Just be weird.” – Willoughby, Everybody Wants Some

I play Dungeons and Dragons. There it is. It’s not something I’ve done forever – I played for the first time over last summer, had a blast, and now I play once a week with a group of friends.

I’ve always loved fantasy worlds. Marvel, DC, Harry Potter and beyond – you name it and I’ve probably spent a bit of time in that universe. I’ve fallen in love with movies, books, and comics.

As a new player, I quickly found the game to be incredibly social, interactive, and pushing me out of my comfort zone. In fact, I would go so far to say that it is one of the most creatively challenging things I’ve ever done. It was very difficult to communicate the rush of excitement over this discovery of a new passion to people who didn’t understand, even those who shared similar passions to those I mentioned above. I was ready for some awkwardness, but I quickly began to feel embarrassed. I was teased. Their perceptions of the game completely contrasted with my experience.

While rock climbing with one of the guys I play with – talk about the last thing you’d expect two DnD players to be up to on a rainy Saturday in DC – he shared that he rarely discussed the game with friends who didn’t play.

For me, keeping something that had brought me such an important dimension of creativity, imagination, and happiness to myself is not acceptable. Our quirky passions define us. They give us a reprieve from the stresses of the world and our more practical passions. Even more importantly, they often enhance skillsets that we don’t use in our schoolwork and other areas of life, creating a well-rounded self. These things should not be hidden – they should be celebrated. Be proud of the “weird” things you do because they make you happy in ways that “normal” things cannot. Embrace them. Share your stories and encourage others to share the passions they keep to themselves. Try someone’s passion and invite him or her to try yours.

GW is an incredible environment for career-minded individuals and those passionate about their academics. If not the first, I fall deeply into that second category. Having a passion so detached from my schoolwork is imperative to my academic success. For three hours every Saturday, I make the choice to forget about my homework, or the paper due on Tuesday, and lose myself in a character and a world. I laugh with my friends and think critically about imaginary situations. When we resurface at the end of a session, I feel refreshed and sharper, more prepared for the week of work ahead.

I didn’t discover DnD until seven months ago. If you feel you are lacking something similar, consider yourself incentivized to indulge curiosities and explore activities that you may have dismissed in the past. I never expected to find myself a DnD player, but here I am today, trying to derive greater meaning from something that makes me happy in the simplest of ways.