We could all learn something from Anil M. Bradley ’22-’23, the heavy metal superfan, Physics-turned-Computer-Science concentrator, and verifiable gym bro named Most Chill member of the senior class.
I meet Bradley at Shay’s Pub on a cold weekday afternoon. His outfit (a backward cap and a camo sweatshirt) and his order (a beer) match the preferences I imagined the Chillest Harvard Senior would have. So, too, does the start of our conversation.
“I got the email for Most Chill, and one of my friends just won Rhodes Scholar and Phi Beta Kappa on the same day,” he tells me. “I was like, ‘That’s cool bro, but I’m chill.’”
Bradley describes his relationship to chillness throughout the past four and a half years as “a straight line upwards.” Taking a year off after his sophomore year only accelerated this trajectory. He thinks his perception as a chill guy mostly boils down to his trying to be nice and approachable, and avoiding getting worked up or angry or stressed, which he says “feels like an exception on this campus.” He has his priorities in check. “I don’t really need to worry,” Bradley says. “I’m more concerned about enjoying myself, getting my sleep, going to the gym.”
When it comes to sleeping, exercising, and eating, Bradley has a fixed routine. He sleeps about 10 hours a night — after some reading before bed, he’s usually out by midnight and up the next morning at 10. He’s been in the powerlifting club since freshman year and lifts about four to five times a week, a habit he says he’s religious about. His dietary habits are also predictable. “I hate the dining hall,” Bradley says, although he’ll eat it if he “has to.” Pinocchio’s Pizza is his establishment of choice.
“I’m at Pinocchio’s literally every day,” Bradley says. “I feel like it’s the most chill place to eat.”
The average, unchill Harvard student probably fears chillness because they think it will disrupt the prospects of their future success and intellectual focus. But Bradley’s laidback attitude hasn’t doomed him. “Like, I’m passing,” he tells me, when I ask about the extent of his chillness. “I have a 3.2. I’m not failing, but I’ve definitely gotten my Cs.”
During his year off, he worked as a construction manager near his home in Long Island. This past summer, he was a project manager intern for a sports gambling company. Next year, he’ll live and work in Brooklyn at a startup alongside a few friends. He feels no desire to emulate the workaholic “investment banker lifestyle,” but he’s also not a big partier. His preferred weekend includes a lot of “hanging out.”
In addition to being “just a young guy living in Brooklyn,” another part of post-grad life Bradley is looking forward to is cooking. When he was in high school, he was a baker for a local bagel shop. During the school year, he’d work from 5 a.m. to 1 p.m. on the weekends; over the summer, he’d work full-time. Reflecting on his former labor, Bradley says, “I would crank out like 2000 bagels in a couple hours.” Next year, his culinary aspirations are modest — chicken, rice, eggs, “real guy food,” he says.
Though Bradley switched his concentration from Physics to Computer Science — he found quantum mechanics too difficult — his favorite class was Physics 15a, an introductory course on Newtonian mechanics and special relativity. He enjoyed the class demonstrations that Assistant Professor Julia Mundy would lead, and found that Physics 15a allowed him to apply the calculus and algebra he had learned the previous semester in a way that felt grounded in “real-life things rather than little atoms.”
“I’m not not intellectually curious, and I still care about things,” Bradley says. “I still read for fun.” He whips out a copy of “War and Peace” from his backpack. He was never going to sit down and read the thousand-page novel on his own, he says, so he took Slavic 118: “Reading Tolstoy’s War and Peace” instead. So far, he’s loving it. He expected it to be drier, but the romance and family drama is keeping him intrigued. When he’s not reading Tolstoy’s epic, he’s reading a murder science fiction novel, “The Wasp Factory,” which he connects to his interests in horror movies, horror books, and death metal music.
In fact, when we speak, Bradley has just come back from a death metal concert in Boston. He goes to a concert about once a week — before seeing the death metal band, he saw King Princess, an indie pop queer icon. Pleasure is really what draws him to fiction, concerts, and film. Bradley loves mob movies — his favorite is “Goodfellas” — samurai movies from the ’50s and ’60s, and Tarantino movies. (“Obviously, I’m a guy with a mustache, you have to like Tarantino,” he says.)
Beyond concerts, workouts, pizza, and sleep, Bradley’s real priority this year is spending time with his friends. “I won’t go a day without a dose of hanging out with my friends,” he says. “I think that’s important.” Bradley says his friends hold each other accountable. “If you’re actually failing and you’re actually not doing any of your work, we’ll be like, ‘Come on bro, you can’t do this.’ But if you’re really worked up over a pset or really worked up over a paper, we’ll sort of be like, ‘It’s okay, you can send in a quick email, there’s a solution to this.’”
When he graduates, he may not see a lot of these friends more than once or twice a year, he says. So for his group of five or six guys who spend almost every day with each other — oftentimes working together during the day and playing poker or video games at night — Bradley wants to savor their final year together.
By the end of our conversation, I come to a realization: Bradley’s “chillness” is more reflective of his varied interests and admirable priorities than an ambivalent approach to life. By valuing his friends, his health, and his non-academic interests as well as his intellectual interests and post-grad plans, Bradley is really just a well-rounded dude.
Before we leave Shay’s — Bradley en route to the Fox Club, me foregoing my solo library plan to hang out with my roommates — Bradley imparts some final words of wisdom. “I think everyone can afford to relax a little bit,” he says. “It’s probably better for you.”
— Magazine Editor-at-Large Josie F. Abugov can be reached at email@example.com.