I didn’t hate rush.
Sure, it seemed a little silly to me that organizations promising lifelong connections were taking all of 10 minutes to assess my value as a potential friend. And I wished I could be at boy rush where all the pizza and beer and fun seemed to be located.
Still, I didn’t mind getting all dressed up, waiting out in the cold or feigning intense interest in people’s hometowns. It was kind of like a young professionals networking event but with matching T-shirts. Might as well get used to it.
Luckily, the sorority I thought I wanted to be in found my small talk and cocktail dress acceptable, and on bid night, I felt tremendously relieved.
In fact, I was actually pretty happy — until we went outside. Wynn Commons was, per the tradition, swarming with slightly intoxicated young women chanting and singing and waving sparkly signs.
In my personal version of Dante’s inferno, I imagine that this is the circle of hell that comes right after the dentist’s chair during a filling and just before the rat-infested alley behind Copa.
“It’s alright,” I told myself. “They’re trying to make this fun. It’ll be over soon.”
As I finally approached my mental happy place, a girl I had never met before ran up to me and wrapped me in a puffy coat embrace. “We’re sisters!” she exclaimed. This night was going nowhere quickly.
Still, in the name of second chances and sisterhood, I sucked it up. For the first few weeks, I attended the parties, I filled out the surveys and I learned everyone’s name.
The whole time, I felt like I was a bad actress in a bad foreign movie.
I didn’t want cupcakes, I didn’t want 13 room temperature vodka cranberries on a Tuesday and I didn’t want to play another round of “never have I ever.” (Sorry I haven’t blown a line of coke off a laundry machine. Am I winning or losing this game?)
I especially didn’t want to make out with the aggressively drunk dude at the first fraternity we went to as a pledge class.
More than anything, I couldn’t see myself forging any real bonds in the process. I didn’t feel anyone shared my values or goals, and I couldn’t see the older girls becoming my role models or mentors.
I was, in a word, miserable. So I quit.
It wasn’t easy. To this day, most of my friends are Greek. I’ve felt left out of awesome-sounding social events, I’ve deeply regretted passing up the opportunity to meet some great people and I’ve questioned my decision on more occasions than I can count.
I spent many nights in Rodin my sophomore year drinking wine alone in front of Penn Video Network while everyone else was at her formal. It sucked.
But I know I would have been dishonest to myself, and I couldn’t stand being associated with a label with which I felt no identification or attachment.
I don’t want you to drop out of your Greek organization. Joining will probably be a great decision for your personal and professional life. But I don’t want you to stay involved if you’re not committed to the culture.
This concept applies to almost everything you do — why would you invest your time in pre-med classes if your dream isn’t to become a doctor?
It took me four years to come to this conclusion, and I can tell you, being at peace with yourself doesn’t always make you happy — particularly not in the short term.
Are you going to feel a little cranky when everyone around you gets big-name OCR jobs and you’re still busy looking for the perfect fellowships to apply for? Yup.
Is it going to be awkward when you leave your sports team to put all your energy into fashion and design? Oh yeah.
And if you deactivate, you will find yourself alone in front of the TV with a plastic “glass” of wine. I can guarantee it.
However, I can also promise you that your gut is rarely wrong, and ignoring it never makes things better.
While taking the most obvious road can be convenient and occasionally rewarding, sometimes you belong off the beaten path.
Lauren Agresti is a College senior from Fulton, Md. Her email address is email@example.com. Follow her @lagresti. “Piece of Mind” appears every other Tuesday.