From One Girl’s Eyes: GISHWHES

Every year since 2011, the world’s weirdest, most adventurous, creative, and compassionate souls have come out of the woodwork for something that sounds so simple on the surface: a scavenger hunt.

For a week in August, thousands of people, led by actor and humanitarian Misha Collins, participate in a unique scavenger hunt. The hunt is an international phenomenon, and has attracted the attention of celebrities such as William Shatner, and has earned itself multiple Guinnes World Records.

From an outsider’s perspective, it is insane, incomprehensible, and absolutely ludicrous.

A closer look as an actual participant, and well… it’s insane, incomprehensible, and absolutely ludicrous.

Here’s a short video to help explain it a little better:

Yeah, it doesn’t really make any more sense now, does it?

I’ve been aware of this event for several years, and was finally able to participate in it for the first time this year.

A brief disclaimer about me personally: I have a problem. I don’t like normal. I am in constant pursuit of flaunting my inner weird. I love defying standards, norms, and expectations. GISHWHES felt like the perfect fit for me. From what I could tell, it would engage my inner oddball, as well as letting me have a new and unique outlet for creativity, while meeting people and being involved in charity work at the same time.

After I registered for this year’s hunt, I was especially grateful that I’d decided to do it this year. This year was, unfortunately, the last GISHWHES.

I don’t even know how to begin describing my week. I dressed up in countless costumes including grocery store produce alien, Bigfoot, a caveman, a panda, and a dog. Or cat. I’m not really sure, actually.

Every day was packed with me getting sticky, exhausted, and confused, as I tried to create worthy pieces of art out of watermelon, non-biodegradable refuse, pixie sticks, and my own feet. I spilled a pound of coleslaw in my backpack, skinned my tongue while licking a violin, and cried on my kitchen floor over a heap of pixie stick powder. I buried my friend in tampons and Cheerios in a hammock. I wrote a trip advisor review for my mother’s womb. See it here:

When people asked why I was doing all this, the simplest answer was to say, “charity”. That’s somehow a good trump card answer, right? People accept that you’ll do anything for charity.

I did it for the charity, sure.

There is something deeper at the heart of GISHWHES that I discovered, though.

It’s hard to explain. ALSO. I’m a single individual in around 70,000 who participated in GISHWHES this year. I’m not saying everyone’s GISHWHES was the same as mine.

I learned…a lot about myself.

I struggle with depression, social anxiety, and over all a lot of self doubt. I am an entrepreneur and creator. I am weird.

I knew all these things before I started GISHWHES.

I have retyped this part about a dozen times. I just don’t know how to say it.

This hunt has changed me. It’s taught me that I am capable of amazing things. That I have a great capacity to problem solve. That I can do whatever I set my mind to.

2017 has made a significant tear in my faith in humanity, and GISHWHES made some impressive headway in patching that tear. I watched the people that were with me and around me push themselves, problem solve, give generously of all they had, love each other, and be sillly. No matter what was going on in their personal lives, the people in GISHWHES put it aside to offer the best -and the oddest- of themselves to the world.

This year, together, GISHWHES’ 70,00o participants raised 250k for a special purpose. You can learn about that here:

On a personal front, GISHWHES changed my life in a very tangible way. An item on the hunt list required someone from our team of fifteen to video record 2 transformative stories from a grandparent. The grandparent had to be over the age of 80.

My great grandfather is 99. (I know.)

I have struggled to connect with him for one reason or another my entire adult life. Because of a spark, an idea, from GISHWHES, I had lunch with him, and heard (definitely more than) two of his life stories.

GISHWHES saved my relationship with my grandpa. We’re going to have lunch ever week together, and I’m going to continue to record his life stories.

This is more than I could have ever asked for, or imagined. I can’t express what this means to me.

GISHWHES is something special. It’s SO special. It’s exactly what the world needs right now. It carries lasting impact.

So I have a message for Misha Collins.

Screw you for being so weird and dragging all of us along with you. (I actually mean thank you, thank you from the bottom of my heart. But I couldn’t say that because no chick flick moments.)

And a message for you, in the spirit of GISHWHES:

Stay weird, stay wonderful. Be kind.

Death to normalcy.