Take A Lesson in Vulnerability From Harper Finkle

Why We Should All Take A Lesson In Vulnerability From Harper Finkle

A closer look at the true power of Alex Russo's spunky best friend.


Disney's Wizards of Waverly Place was a crowd favorite in my household. My sister and I would watch marathons of the hilarious antics caused by Alex (played by an early Selena Gomez), Justin (David Henrie), and Max (Jake T. Austin) with their wizardly powers as the Russo family. I even remember desperately trying to emulate Alex's effortless cool for my friends at school by entering an ever-cringey slouchy beanie phase. Looking back on the Disney classic for Gen Z, I realize that my love for the show would not have come without the odd yet endearing spunk of Alex's best friend Harper Finkle (played by Jennifer Stone) whose homemade outfits taught me the early importance of vulnerability.

Harper's outfits were extreme, to say the least. In a Disney color scheme lined with the solid navy blues and greys of the Russos family sub shop, Harper stood in a rainbow outfit she made entirely of fruit roll-ups. She dared to venture outside in her homemade creations that cast her apart from everyone in her surroundings. She fearlessly embodied her style, subjected herself to the bullies we never saw but probably existed in the fictional Wizards world, and we watched as her fashion expertise evolved from wearing a subtle graphic t-shirt with a hamburger on it to a bubble bath themed dress complete with what looked to be fifty rubber duckies.

We can all infer that Harper had an extreme amount of confidence. But what I was unable to process as a child who laughed at what I thought were simply Harper's silly outfits was that in every episode of Wizards she was being actively vulnerable in an effort to give herself wholeheartedly to the spunky, creative, one-of-a-kind person she aspired to become. She knew that she was relegating herself to a position of ridicule but she didn't care- she dressed the way she did to live fully and truthfully. Harper's utilization of vulnerability as a means of personal evolution speaks to the hallmark teachings of Brene Brown, famous for her 2010 TEDxHouston Talk "The Power of Vulnerability."

Brown argues that vulnerability is "uncertainty, risk, and emotional exposure" that when embraced enables the vulnerable to achieve a fuller life. We can all infer that Harper's pursuit of fashion embodied the above criteria on a daily basis. But it's more than Harper's outfits that are so inspiring- it's their symbolism. I'm no Harper, but to me clunky yellow clip-on earrings and turtlenecks are trademarks of my risky outfit choices. Though I expose myself to the world of uncertainty that Brown speaks about, those insecurities fade away as I pour my confidence into my outfit. I raise my hand more in class. I'm more daring with my actions. I'm no longer apologetic in the pursuit of the person I intend to be that day.

Vulnerability, though it requires dominating one's fears of rejection, scrutiny, or critique is the gateway to that person's most powerful state. By relegating ourselves to our weakest points we stand to gain the greatest power.

So in that spirit be like Harper and be vulnerable, whether that be daring to wear a crazy outfit, proposing a never before heard research idea, get a haircut, write an article on a topic you're fascinated about but still have much to learn- be daring in the pursuit of who you are meant to become.

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12 Unhealthy College Habits That Never Should Have Become Normalized

No, you shouldn't have to pull an all-nighter to pass every exam.


College is a weird time in our lives, but it doesn't have to be bad for our health. Here are some trends I've seen on social media and watched my friends practice that really never should have become a "thing" for college students in the first place.

1. The "freshman 15."

Everyone has heard of the dreaded "freshman 15," where college freshmen gain 15 pounds because of access to all-you-can-eat dining halls. Rather than eating healthier options at the dining halls or, you know, only eating until you're full and not stuffing yourself, we've just accepted our fate to gain what's really a large amount of weight. Not a very healthy mindset.

2. Eating only junk food because we're "too poor" to buy real food.

For off-campus students, the theme is ramen and peanut butter & jelly sandwiches. This is really not how it needs to be. You can buy a bunch of romaine lettuce for around $1 at the grocery store I go to in my college town, and other produce like broccoli, potatoes, and apples are always cheap. Shop sales and keep your pantry stocked on staples like dry pasta, rice, beans, and other canned vegetables. It's not that expensive to eat decently.

3. Gorging on food at the dining hall just because you can.

This is what leads to the freshman 15. Just because you can eat whatever you want doesn't mean you should.

4. Procrastinating EVERYTHING.

I'm always ahead of my schoolwork, but all of the people in my classes push things right down to the wire. It creates unnecessary stress. Just get things done in advance so you don't have to worry.

5. Being generally unorganized and struggling to keep your life together. 

Actually using my planner is one of the best things I've done for myself in college so far. I don't know why it became popular for college students to be a hot mess all the time, but again, do what you can to avoid putting unnecessary stress on yourself.

6. Pulling all nighters, ever.

If you don't understand it by midnight, you won't understand it any better by five in the morning. You'll do so much better with less studying and more sleep than the other way around. Take the L and go to bed.

7. Waiting until the very last minute to start studying for your finals.

This is what typically leads to the aforementioned all-nighters. If you have an exam in two weeks, start studying NOW. Give yourself time to figure out what you need to focus on and get in contact with your professor or a tutor if necessary. Do yourself the favor.

8. Getting blackout drunk Friday and Saturday night...every weekend.

A lot of college students like to drink. That's fine, I get it, college is stressful and you just want to have a good time. But you don't have to go out every night of every weekend and drink so much you don't remember anything that didn't occur between Monday-Friday every week. Give yourself a break from drinking every so often.

9. Getting iced coffee before class and being late because of it.

I always make sure I get to campus early if I plan to get Starbucks, which I often do. It's rude to come in late, and it's detrimental to your education to consistently miss class. Your coffee can wait if you're running late. Plan better next time.

10.  Committing to 10 different extracurriculars because "it'll boost your resume if you have more on it!"

If you only participate in one club where you're the head of marketing and the treasurer, that will look SO much better than if you participated in five clubs but were just...there for all of them. Excel in one thing rather than being mediocre in many.

11.  Skipping class whenever you feel like it.

You can take the occasional mental health day, but if you're just being lazy, you're only hurting yourself. Go to class. You're paying a lot of money for it, after all.

12.  Spending every last penny you have to go somewhere for spring break (Daytona Beach, anyone?).

"Broke" college kids always end up taking the most extravagant spring break vacations. I'm sure it's fun and you'll cherish the memories, but wouldn't you cherish that $500 more if you saved it for things you actually need rather than living off of ramen for a month when you get home?

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Individuals Have A Moral Obligation To Those In Need

Where is the compassion, sympathy, and especially the morality in our fellow man?


First off, let me give a definition of moral obligation. Moral obligation is known as a duty which one owes, and which he ought to perform, but which he is not legally bound to fulfill. Imagine a world where every moral obligation was ignored. Of course, the world isn't falling apart around us, but where is the compassion, sympathy, and especially the morality in our fellow man? Nowhere to be seen. Gone. In some instances, fulfilling a moral obligation can be beneficial. I will be sharing one of these instances with you today.

The story begins with a 55-year-old man. Billy Ray Harris was homeless. He lived on a street corner in Kansas City and would often be seen holding out a tin cup and asking passers-by for spare change. But then, one day, a moral act of kindness went in his favor. In February 2013, Sarah Darling passed Billy Harris at his usual spot and dropped some change into his cup. But, unknown to her, she also accidentally dropped in her very expensive engagement ring. I can't lie and say Harris didn't debate on selling the ring for a profit. However, he decided to hold onto it instead, in case the woman returned.

Harris knew he wasn't someone who could take that women's ring. Sounds like a moral obligation to me. Wrapping the story up, the woman did come back later to retrieve her ring and was grateful for his honesty and kindness. She and her husband launched a fundraiser for Harris. They've collected more than $190,000, more than enough to get Harris back on his feet.

Moral obligation at times is based on the Golden Rule which is "do unto others as you would have them do unto you," and the basic idea is that consistency requires that a person treat others as she would wish to be treated. A famous English poet named John Donne once wrote, "No man is an island entire of itself; every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main; if a clod be washed away by the sea, Europe is the less, as well as if a promontory were, as well as a manor of thy friends or of thine own were; any man's death diminishes me, because I am involved. in mankind. And therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls; it tolls for thee."

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