The Harbinger Online

Senior Column: Dan Stewart, Co-Photo-Editor

Dan Stewart

Position: Co-Photo-Editor

College: University of Missouri

Major: Journalism and Business




After only two days of high school, one of them being freshmen orientation, I found my pre-teen, pasty, ginger, braced-faced self lost in a crowd of two thousand plus people. I had my over sized backpack and my hand-drawn, but detailed, map of the entire school.  Yet, I was certain I was not going to survive high school. My heart started to beat faster as I moved through the massive crowd.

After squeezing my way through, I ran toward the stairwell while looking back and cursing under my breath at the swarm of people. I did not see what was ahead of me––a 6’5” wall of football-playing senior. I rammed into him, and somehow, in a perplexing balance of physics, my body did him in. The next thing I knew, he was on the ground. I couldn’t speak. I just waved my hands, stuttered, “Uh… wow… bye,” and sprinted up four flights of stairs. What followed were the most threatening words of my high school career: “Get back hur, punk!”

It’s not surprising that this would happen to me on my second day of school. I was awkward. I’ve had more than my fair share of awkward experiences throughout high school. My voice was a galumphing train ride of pitches. I wasn’t great at forming phrases that made sense. Worst of all, I was the kid who could never think of the right thing to say in the moment. My thoughts seemed to come out too early or too wrong.

At 6:59 a.m., jamming out to Britney Spears’ “Baby One More Time,” I pulled into the sophomore lot. As I opened the door to my cherry red Dodge minivan, the loose seat belt caught my pudgy leg. In seconds I hit pavement. I picked my things up and tried to hold back tears of embarrassment. A snicker came from a tall skinny blonde girl standing right in front of me. Her beauty made me tear up even more. Our conversation went a little like this:

“Are you OK?”


“Can I help?”

“Help? Um…are you OK? I gotta go. Bye.”

As you probably guessed, I didn’t have many friends, and I was sure my awkwardness was the cause. How was I supposed to make friends if I didn’t feel comfortable with myself? So I devoted myself to changing this aspect ––my awkward nature.

But then junior year, while waiting for my girlfriend (yes, I know what you all are thinking––“how did he get a girlfriend?”), I was inspecting the vases in her family’s dining room cabinet. I swear I’m not making this up it is just a perfect example of how awkward I am. I turned to her mother and said, “You have such nice jugs.” From there it was all a blur; all I remember is her saying, “She’ll be down in a minute.”

Sure enough, my futile attempts at reform didn’t work. My awkward nature continued to be a part of who I was. This year, standing in a dolphin costume (which in no way resembled a dolphin) I urged the East populous to give money to an animal that didn’t even reside in our area. I thought to myself, “How awkward is this?” But I was having the time of my life in possibly the most awkward situation. So, it wasn’t really awkward after all.

Through this year, I’ve discovered that being awkward is a part of my nature that can’t be changed. I can use it to make people laugh. I can take deviant pleasure in making people feel uncomfortable. For example, this year I went around swimming my hand between other’s legs and crying out, “Awkward salmon!” (I apologize to all those who were subjected to the salmon). But most importantly, I found a disarming way to connect with everyone. Everyone has their awkward moments, and instead of being embarrassed them, they’re a part of us that should be embraced and enjoyed. The awkward moments in life are always what we remember fondly and will fuel our laughter for years to come.

View some of Dan’s work during his time on The Harbinger.

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