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School of sharks

Sam Stryker | Monday, February 14, 2011

Chances are, you know who I am, although I probably don’t know you. I am not boasting when I state this fact — this has nothing to do with me being more important than you. The simple fact of the matter is, if you know me it isn’t because I am a Television major or I live on Mod Quad, but because I am the boy with the shark backpack.

In a sea of Columbias and Jansports and Kiplings, my shark backpack is at the top of the food chain. It has little fish for zippers, and instead of placing books in my backpack my shark literally swallows my literature. If I need to carry a water bottle with me, I just stick it in my sharky’s gills. Two menacing eyes glisten on the sides, and two rows of sharp pearly whites line the zippers.

It goes without saying, but I have a killer backpack.

In addition to my shark backpack, I am currently wearing my shark boxers. They also serve as my lucky boxers. I’m resting my head on my shark pillow, and even though my breath tastes like pizza, I can freshen it up with one of my Great White mints.

I really, really love sharks.

But beyond my mere love of sharks is that people know I love sharks. In the immortal words of Lady Gaga, I was born this way — why should I hide my love for sharks?

So you know me. I’m the boy with the shark backpack. But do I know you? That’s the challenge college students at a university as competitive as Notre Dame are tasked with — standing out while at the same time fitting in. All of us are here to succeed, and succeeding is all about standing out, staying ahead of the crowd.

Yet at the same time, we are all image conscious and don’t want to seem too “out there” or peculiar. Most students are focused on standing out with their actions while fitting in with their appearance. While not looking like a total whack-job is commendable, one can still look fierce and professional at the same time.

To put it in culinary terms (aside from sharks, I really like food), there is nothing wrong with being vanilla. But why not put some whipped cream on your ice cream? Or even like some people do in the dining hall, some cereal?

College is a time where you can get away with a lot of crazy stuff, and I am not merely referring to whatever you did this weekend. This is when you can wear whatever you want and smell however you like! Why not take advantage of this incredible opportunity?

This is not some cliché Disney-esque message. I simply am trying to tell you, to truly stand out you cannot just act better than everyone and work harder than your peers. You also have to dress the part. In the real world, that means wearing a suit and combing your hair. Right now, it’s something like carrying your books in a shark backpack and wearing your shark boxers.

The views expressed in the Inside Column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.

Contact Sam Stryker at sstryke1@nd.edu