August Herbold ’25 has learned to live with his hangriness.
August Herbold ’25 has learned to live with his hangriness.

The Hangry Games

by August Herbold ’25

In the tranquility of the early morning or the chaos of the commute home from school, the feeling plows into me like a rhinoceros in a territorial battle.

I’m hangry.

I’ve been hangry my whole life. In fact, my mom tells me I was born hangry. The placenta wasn’t attached properly, so even though I was born a healthy baby, I occasionally had missed out on a free-flowing feast of nutrients. Eighteen years later, I’m still making up for that. And even though my newborn self expressed hangry feelings through a healthy set of lungs and vocal cords, my more recently evolved self tends to brood and pace quietly.

The Merriam-Webster dictionary added “hangry” to its listings just two years ago. Certainly, through the years, others have felt as the dictionary describes, “irritable and angry because of hunger.”

The thing is, I can now predict when it’s about to happen. I can sense the scream that’s growing from a whisper to “Feed me!” I’m mature enough to consciously tell my subconscious that I’m not currently on a deserted island in the tropics. Food is accessible. Water is plentiful.

I can now use that hangry feeling to practice mature decisions at other levels. For instance, I will be old enough to vote in the November elections this year. Paying attention to politicians’ rhetoric, and social and economic situations, brings that passion within me alive. I want change! I can’t wait to be able to vote for change! But change can’t always happen quickly, especially when laws and politics are involved. So I’m patient. I’ll wait. I know the satisfaction of voting will quiet my appetite for change.

Being hangry has taught me that.

Football is another one of my passions. It’s a physical game, for sure. But for me, it’s also an intellectual matchup, an exercise in strategy. I want to win so badly that the minute we exit the field and head to the locker room, I’m thirsty for next week’s win. The week of preparation that goes into game readiness is essential. I know this, having witnessed how effective it can be. So I use my almost two decades of feeling hangry to recenter me. The win can wait. Without that week of preparation, the gratification of a win couldn’t be achieved. Just like grabbing a stick of beef jerky before dinner. Yes, it’s chewy goodness gets me by, but the steak on the grill will be even more satisfying. A win is worth the wait.

Being hangry has taught me that.

In our current pandemic-ridden world, where life plans have been turned upside down and the future is hard to predict, I’m lucky to have years of training under my belt. Being hangry has taught me that waiting brings rewards. Being hangry has made me self-aware, not only of my physical demands, but my emotional needs too.

And being hangry my whole life has given me perspective. Life isn’t just a series of hungers and satisfactions. It’s incredibly unpredictable. I need to master my urge to control, quell my need to know when the next meal is. No matter how angry I get at life’s situations or how passionate I feel about something, patience and rolling with the changes will bring triumph.

That’s what being hangry has taught me.

August Herbold ’25 is a biomedical engineering major and varsity football player from Urbandale, Iowa.