Demetrius Harmon — a social media icon formally known as “MeechOnMars” — emphasized the importance of mental health in his VCU visit Nov. 27.
“So I know we was having fun a minute ago, but this is a pretty serious lecture,” Harmon said at the beginning of the event, which was part of his “The World is Yours” campaign. “Not from an unrealistic, dreamlike stance, but the world literally is yours.”
Sheden Tesfaldet, a student in the school of media and culture, said she was going to the event expecting a light-hearted time, but ended up getting a lot more out of it.
“It was really great. I came in thinking I would just laugh, but it felt like he really did give us a lot of good life advice,” Tesfaldet said. “I felt I was really fulfilled mentally and spiritually.”
Tesfaldet said her biggest takeaway from the event was Harmon’s story about not giving up after the death of his aunt.
“He used it as, ‘this is what my aunt would want me to do.’” Tesfaldet said. “I love how he was able to take such a negative situation and turn it to positive.”
Harmon — who became famous on social media for his viral Vine and Twitter comedy videos — discussed his upbringing and how harmful it was to not have plans for his future.
“I had a lot of things and people who depended upon me, and I didn’t know what I was doing in my life,” Harmon said. “People in school were talking about college and I’m like ‘I don’t know, dawg.’ It’s one thing to know I don’t want to go to college, and it’s another thing to know what I want to do instead.”
Harmon went on to talk about his stories of success and failure, how he battled through mental illness and the importance of finding reasons to keep going.
VCU freshman Rachel Dwyer said the event impacted her personally as an undeclared student.
“I feel even though VCU is very friendly toward trying to help [undeclared students], it’s really hard to find the right reason why you’re here,” Dwyer said. “I thought it was really cool to see where he’s at now and how he found his own motivation and drive.”
Harmon talked about the recent death of a close family friend who was “basically an uncle” to him, and how that almost made him give up.
“It shook me to my core,” Harmon said. “I had nightmares about it. I didn’t feel certain about life anymore. I was back in that same [feeling] of ‘What’s the point of living if we’re just going to die?”
Harmon said he used his uncle’s death as a reason for continuing his “You Matter” apparel release. He ended up selling 600 hoodies in 40 minutes.
“I don’t know what sparked it. I just felt like I had to do it as an honor,” Harmon said. “For me, [selling the hoodies] was all the reassurance I needed to keep going.”
The event was originally scheduled for Oct. 11, but was canceled when the university closed in response to inclement weather caused by Hurricane Michael. That evening, however, Harmon went on to hold a meet-and-greet with students in Monroe Park — enabling students who were not able to secure tickets for the lecture to meet him.
At the end of the event, Harmon announced he is working on a piece of VCU apparel as part of his “You Matter” clothing line. No other information about the product was given.