Freshman year me was brand new. He had no idea what was going on, and an atrocious fashion sense really didn’t help him to make friends or meet new people. But I’ve always been a sucker for traditions, and when, on the first Friday of freshman year, I wore a blue button-up shirt with sharks on it, I decided it would be a thing. I would make it a tradition– Shark Shirt Friday– and do it every Friday for the rest of the year. No, scratch that: the rest of school.
And then I did. Somehow, without fail, I wore a little button-up featuring everybody’s favorite aquatic predator on it every single Friday of high school. Obviously, there were Fridays I wasn’t in school, and during Covid, I was rarely out of my bed (much less wearing decent shirts), but when I was in the building on a Friday, I could be found with a shark shirt on. I didn’t even like sharks! To this day, I don’t know why I did it. But I did.
It began as an inside joke with my teachers. I would say to them in passing, “happy Shark Shirt Friday!” and once they understood, they’d laugh and say it back. Then it was my friends, who would recognize the shirt and even wear one of their own occasionally. My first period teacher, senior year, took a picture with me every Friday morning. Of course, it wasn’t ragingly popular, but it was still fun.
In the nihilistic halls of high school, it’s easy to lose meaning. It’s easy to lose hope, friends, and traditions, because high school seems to have a way of sucking everything down and squashing it to death, especially if it’s something as childish as wearing a shark shirt. But through all of it — the pandemic, the ups and downs, the homework that made me want to lose my mind — Shark Shirt Friday became about giving meaning to those childish things; it made me realize that blissful ignorance of the people that seek only to put things down or deem them “cringe” is, in fact, okay.
For me this year, it’s not only a connection to my friends and teachers, but a connection to freshman me, the one who was a bit lost and confused and thought this dumb shirt would be hilarious, and now, it’s a part of me, as much as any of my high school experiences are. I’ve learned that if I can give meaning to an outfit, or attach a bit of serotonin to a day of the week, then maybe the drudgery of public school has some value, and maybe, as you grow in age and shirt size, it’s ok to treasure the little things. Even, I suppose, if they’re just little fabric sharks.
Hi! My name is Brendan Shore and I am a staff writer for The Mycenaean. I am an avid photographer and rock climber!