Have you ever traveled so far down one path that, even when you realize it wasn’t the correct path and you try to go another way, you can’t even see where you made the wrong turn anymore? And you’re just… stuck. Stuck moving forward and looking for new forks in the road to get you away from whatever it is you’ve been doing for so long.
I have no idea why I believed that joining a sorority would be a good idea. I looked back on my high school experiences, observed how much of a mess it is to be on a cheerleading squad with eleven other girls and a clearly defined purpose, and signed up to join a group of seventy girls with no discernible outside goals. I guess I had high hopes. I remember crying the night I had to choose between my top two houses—one, my sister’s house; the other, the most elite house on campus—and wishing that someone else could just tell me where to go. I remember crying in my sister’s room the following morning (I had chosen her house) and being terrified of what I just got myself into. It has been almost three years since that day, but I remember the feeling well because it recurred so often. Two nights ago, I was crying because I realized I had given my entire college career to an organization, but done so in such a begrudging manner that I am leaving with fewer friends than those with which I entered.
I do not like my sorority. I disagree with the fact that the central goal of the organization is recruitment, the perpetuation of our own existence. We spend so much time preparing for events and learning how to recruit new members that it seems to give our organization meaning, but how does “we’re just trying to keep the wheels spinning” make for a meaningful experience? I disagree with our official philanthropy which hides behind the veil of benefitting research and prevention of a major health concern while the majority of funds raised are actually just directed right back into the sorority for member development workshops. I disagree with the verbal circlejerk that ends all of our meetings, when we get to tell one another why our organization is the best and how we show it.
However much I disagree with my sorority, I can separate the hatred and the knowledge that this was a vital part of my adventures in growing up. The leadership opportunities within the sorority helped me build the resume which helped me get my job and the interactions I’ve had within the house have made me into the person I am today.
However much I value the lessons I learned during my time in my sorority, it still stings to know that I belong to an organization made up of groups of friends, but that I am completely alone. My old roommates used to get asked how they dealt with living with me. On the “senior” bulletin board in our hallway, the photograph used for me is one of me by myself because there were no pictures of me with any of my other sisters. It’s a tough pill to swallow: in high school, people either (a) didn’t know who I was, (b) didn’t care about me, or (c) thought I was okay. I got to college and now I pay to be around girls who dislike me.
It’s not tough because they dislike me—trust me, I don’t like them either. It’s just tough to know that I chose this path. I chose to enter a culture that had no space for my introversion and the results were exactly as expected. I eat alone, I arrive at meetings at the last possible minute to avoid having to socialize before roll call, and I make excuses to avoid recruitment events so I do not have to exhaust myself by trying to interact with people who ignore me for an entire evening. I love reading at the local coffee shop, but I am terrified that one of my sisters will come in and see me sitting in the corner and tell the rest of the house about how much of a loser I am.
My feelings and relationship with this house have gone from hopeful to avoidant to angry and, for the greater part of the last year, completely indifferent. But sometimes, when I really start thinking about what I’ve done and not done, I just feel sad. Wasted. Useless.
I promise that I am beyond thrilled that I will be moving to London in January. I promise that I won’t waste my time in London by hiding in my room or by just doing what I think I’m supposed to want instead of what I genuinely want to do. I have too much experience with wasting my years to ever do that again—at least, not without a crushing sense of guilt over my repeated failures. Right now, London is the light at the end of my tunnel. But this tunnel is really damn long.