Giving in to Superstition

I turned 13 on August 5, 2012 and I have never dreaded a day more. Not because I have any instinctive aversion to birthdays, I very much enjoy the celebration. But from that day on for an entire year I would be 13. An entire year of Friday the 13ths. That mindset was how I lived for a long time. We couldn’t have the radio in the car on a volume of 13. I knocked on wood anytime anyone said anything about airplanes for a month before the flight from Boston to France. I wouldn’t take my lucky dog tag off. Ever. For anything.

It was never a religious thing. My family didn’t raise us with any religious affiliation and I knew perfectly well that it made no sense. Of course tapping your knuckles on wood doesn’t change the outcome of a metal box plummeting through the air. I had no misconceptions about that. As I got older it seemed more and more childish to keep believing in the protective power of a necklace or a slab of wood, and for 15-year-old me, seeming childish was the enemy. I purged myself of superstition. I would intentionally listen to the radio on 13, jinx myself and not knock on wood. My dog tag sat on my bedside table day after day collecting dust. But the comfort from superstition returned in eighth grade before finals. When I started studying, I grew out a beard (I had an unnatural amount of facial hair for a 14-year-old). At the same time my brother had been growing out a playoff beard for hockey, so I got inspired. Now whenever I begin exam prep, I grow out a beard. It’s ridiculous, but the comfort and confidence I find through the process likely helps my score. Even if it doesn’t, it’s harmless and honestly rather fun to grow out a beard and I think that is the benefit of superstition. If giving in to superstition doesn’t hurt you or anyone else and ultimately improves your confidence or comfort, than I think it is harmless and should be embraced.

– Oliver