A prominent collegiate wrestler at Columbia University, Dylan Geick gained popularity when he opened up about his sexuality to his friends in Stevenson High School. Featured in Outsports and in The New York Times, the internet personality’s decision to be sincere about his identity spread like wildfire—garnering him 728,000 followers on Instagram.
Aside from being an exceptional athlete, Geick is also a vlogger with 202,000 subscribers. He uses YouTube as a platform to upload his podcast, Out of Frame, in which he interviews entrepreneurs and influencers regarding their experiences with technology, digital space, philosophy and politics.
Geick is also a skillful writer and published his first book, titled Early Works: A Collection of Poetry in 2017. Currently, he is working on a novel, which is a horror Western set in Mexican Texas that takes place in the 1800s.
As an ardent fanatic of his works and his daily posts, I am so fortunate to have the opportunity to interview Dylan Geick.
It is such an honor to be able to talk to you on your experiences as a college student, wrestler, vlogger, and author.
The pleasure is all mine!
As a student in Columbia University, how do you manage your schoolwork and your extracurricular activities?
It was quite a challenge at times. During semesters, I just have to put my head down and focus on being productive. I become very scheduled and habitual. I find it’s best not to think about how busy I am and just let the rush of classes, practices, and social media take me along for the ride.
You were a two-time All-American high school wrestler, a three-time member of the Illinois Freestyle national team, and placed fourth in your final two seasons in your weight class in the Illinois State Championships. What sparked your interest in wrestling? Who are your biggest inspirations?
I suppose it started with TaeKwonDo when I was like six years old, thinking it would turn me into Jason Bourne. When I was eight years old, I watched the first few UFC championships and immediately knew that was what I really wanted to do, so I switched into MMA. For years, I focused on JiuJitsu and Muay Thai. It was watching Matt Hughes fight in the UFC that made me want to pick up wrestling, at first just as a tool for MMA, but I quickly fell in love. The work ethic and camaraderie in wrestling are simply unmatched by any other sport in the world. Through middle school and high school, I looked up to guys like Mike Poeta (my then coach) Jordan Burroughs and Kyle Dake.
Other than being an outstanding athlete, you are a skillful writer, and you self-published your first book, Early Works: A Collection of Poetry in 2017. When did you figure out that you have knack for writing? Does it run down the family?
I’ve always had a love for literature. I grew up on sci-fi and fantasy like Ender’s Game, Eragon and of course Harry Potter. Honestly, writing felt as natural as reading when I was younger. As I got older, I just continued to learn and my appreciation for writing as an art form grew. My younger sister also seems to have picked up the pen. Her poetry has unbelievable depth and craft for such a young writer. She’ll outshine me for sure.
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Came back to Chicago for my sister’s high school graduation. While generally I consider finishing high school more an expectation than an achievement, to do so with the dedication to excellence that she did deserves praise. Her skill as a writer seems to have recently surpassed my own (though I take some credit at least in her grooming to be a writer, thank you very much) but her powers for empathy and compassion for our world and its inhabitants surpassed me many years ago and certainly come from within. I’m a very proud brother today, and just wanted to share some of her impressive work. Congrats J!
What was an early experience where you learned that language had power?
I was always really interested in stories as a kid, and Christian Myth really fascinated me. It’s crazy to think that our entire world was molded around a handful of allegories and legends written by men. I remember being awed and a little confused in church as a child, watching all these people bow their heads and hearing them recite passages back and forth with the pastor. It always seemed to me like some lost ritual that shouldn’t exist except in a bygone era of haunted woods and town witches, and yet here it was before me. I realized the powers of story and language could overcome time, culture and science. Humans crave stories, and we have to be careful which we tell.
Recently, you had been more active in YouTube—uploading podcasts every Sunday. Can you tell our readers about the topics you discussed in your episodes and how you chose the people to interview?
The original idea for the podcast was to talk to my generation of “Social Media Influencers” about what our lives really consisted of. I was interested in showing the human side of celebrity culture, how it came with such massive ups and downs, how unregulated it was and what a healthier relationship between creators and consumers of digital content might look like. I think I have touched on those messages, but the podcast has become very free form. Now I talk to musicians, actors, political activists and investors. With access to such interesting people, I try to let them dictate what we talk about. I’m just there to soak up the knowledge and give some commentary.
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New episode of my podcast “Out of Frame” today (available on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, YouTube linked in bio) I talk with Gotham’s @davidamazouz about his time on the show, his future plans, Batman as a cultural icon, and his love for hip hop. Lots of fun having him on, enjoy!
With numerous responsibilities and a hectic schedule, what’s a typical weekday like for you? What do you do to relax?
Weekdays usually consist of a few training sessions to stay ready for competition this fall, and a lot of logistical stuff for the podcast. Outside of the editing, I spend a lot of time coordinating guests and trying to accommodate their own busy schedules. I’ve also dialed back in certain obligations online, so I’ve gotten back a lot of time to read and write recently.
Is there anything you wish you had done differently to improve your experience as a college student?
Sometimes, I think it would’ve been great to have a “normal” college experience, leaving behind social media and all that, but the truth is I’ve had a blast this far. I have no regrets there.
After your freshman year in Columbia University, you took a gap year. What were you able to accomplish during that year? How do you want to improve yourself this year?
I just thought that college wasn’t going to disappear and that the NCAA has built in a fifth year of eligibility, so why not explore? I’ve learned about myself, met some incredible people and grown immensely as a person. Existing completely on my own, without help from parents or the structure of a university, has given me a lot of perspective for my return to school.
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There’s really no place like New York City. I still can’t walk the streets alone at night without gazing upwards in wonder at this monument to human progress and collaboration. (and sometimes vicious capitalism too but hey we all have our flaws) I am officially registered for fall classes at Columbia, just something I wanted to share as a small middle finger to all the repugnant individuals who tried to shame me as a “dropout” when I announced my gap year. Anyways, the world keeps spinning and I still feel atop it. Here’s to many more memories in the city that never sleeps. ?
Tell me about your proudest achievement.
One thing wrestling taught me well is that valuing medals, achievements, and milestones brings far less peace than appreciating experience and relationships. My proudest “achievements” are the relationships I’ve built with my friends.
What do you do in your free time? Do you have any special talents?
No secret talents to speak of. In my quiet moments, I like to play the piano, read, or geek out with video games.
You were known for your bravery in breaking the stereotype that an athlete needs to be macho and heterosexual. What impact do you think you’ve made in the status quo?
I don’t think I’ve made half the impact I would like to. The status quo seems still firmly in place to me. Maybe the community I came from felt change, but on a national stage I still know so many athletes living a life half in silence. I have received hundreds of messages of personal impact and those give me hope, but I know that for each of those there are ten still in the closet in division one or pro sports. I think I might have to win some national titles to make headway in the next few years.
Being part of the LGBT+ community, what do you think should be done to improve the living conditions of the minority group?
I think what we need today is what we have needed for the last two thousand years—more visibility, more honesty, and more people willing to stand up for those who have been silenced.
What is your advice to your fans who are striving to become better versions of themselves?
You’re probably doing a great job. Don’t be too hard on yourself, and remember to enjoy the process.
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Featured Image courtesy of Phil Shaw