Column: Don't sweat the small stuff
Oct. 18, 2011
The opinions expressed by The Maneater columnists do not represent the opinions of The Maneater editorial board.
When events like Homecoming weekend come around and distract me from column idea gathering, there seems to be a lack of inspiration to turn to.
But then Saturday night, in the wake of the weekend's festivities, I peeled off my sweaty long-sleeve Homecoming shirt and searched my friend's apartment bathroom for some antiperspirant, and it hit me.
During my younger adolescent years, having sweaty pits would've completely ruined my day and done tragic things to my self-conscious ego.
But now, the cool college guy that I am, I've learned a few things about taking myself much less seriously, thanks to the character I'm dubbing "the sweaty pit sensei." Enter his dojo here.
During middle school, I used to wear a white undershirt under my T-shirt every day because I didn't want my sweat stains to show.
There was this one fateful day in the 8th grade when I forgot to put on deodorant in the morning and, during gym class, I discovered that I had pitted out my shirt during first-period English.
Terrified by the potential humiliation I might have faced, I was eternally burdened with a bizarre mental phobia of sweaty pits and the world-ending tragedy that would result from someone noticing my minor underarm wetness.
At this major turning point in my life, I began living out the typical clinical-strength deodorant commercial. Insecurity, embarrassment and arm-torso cavity discomfort sent me on a worldwide search for the strongest sweat gland stopper stick.
Unlike the commercial with the satisfied, sweat-free actors, there was no happy ending for me, because everyone knows the clinical strength stuff doesn't work — it just costs more and comes in a fancy cardboard box.
So, several deodorant brands and yellow pit-stained packs of undershirts later, I reached my senior year of high school and decided to initiate plan Z, my last resort: take off that stupid white undershirt that always made my collar look dumb in pictures and stop caring.
The next morning, I defiantly shunned the stack of white undershirts in the top drawer of my dresser and put on a black T-shirt (just to be safe). This was it. No turning back now.
Although the few one-shirt trial runs that week didn't completely do the trick, my problem began to (pun approaching) dry up pretty quickly, especially on the days when I was too busy to really think about it.
But, the wet pits didn't end up being the most significant part of my rather insignificant bodily experiment, or at least the part worth writing about.
Not caring about the humidity of my underarm region not only kept my shirt dry, comfortable and uniform in color, but it was also an important step in learning to take myself a lot less seriously.
Being able to loosen up was well-timed with coming to college and trying to figure out what to do with my life in the real world, like being a starving writer, English major and J school discontent.
I'm willing to study in one of the most stigmatized fields out there, so who cares if I sweat occasionally? At least sweating is free and will keep me cool in my run-down apartment one day.
In fact, if I didn't sweat, there would only be two possible outcomes: Either my body would adapt and I would start panting or I would die, or both. Either way, I would get more weird looks from that than from having an occasional sweat stain.
I can now wear a colorful assortment of V-necks because I don't need anything to go under it.
I can wear one shirt on hot days instead of two.
I don't have to buy new undershirts anymore (sorry, M.J.).
With all of this newfound freedom, I can stretch my arms wide and look up at the clouds without spraying people in the face with sweat like the guy in those old Axe commercials. And if I do, it should be expected, because CoMo is way too freaking hot in the fall anyway (at least until yesterday).
And, perhaps most importantly, I am now calm and comfortable enough to fearlessly end this column with the most disgustingly cheesy and fitting cliche:
Don't sweat the small stuff.