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On my bookmarks bar, I order the most visited sites from the inside out, so in the middle of the bar are sites like Twitter, ESPN and Youtube. So it may surprise many people that in 5th position from the middle are three little letters: TFM.
Why is this surprising? Well if you couldn’t tell from the title of this column, Hi I’m [name redacted], I just finished my freshman year at Indiana University, and I’m a GDI.
When I was deciding where to go to school, I really only had three prerequisites: good sports, a good business school, and a good party/Greek life. All my life I had been involved in some sort of brotherhood, whether it be amongst my high school baseball team or with my overnight camp friends, I was always in a group that spent a lot of time together, had to overcome trials and tribulations, and like Andy Dufresne, we would crawl through a proverbial river of shit and come out clean on the other side. That’s what pledging is, that’s what I wanted — another group of friends, nay, brothers, that I would have the best four years of my life, because that was all I had known.
At Indiana, rush is about a month or so after school starts. I was going to some pre-rush parties so I thought I had a good chance, but the funny thing was, whenever I was meeting new people, I seemed to gel more with the guys who said they were rushing, than the ones who were content with being a GDI. This confirmed my wanting to go Greek.
So fall rush came around, and after giving it some thought, I came up with a strategy. I was going to rush very few houses, not because I was confident in getting a bid somewhere, but rather because, upon first glance, I don’t look like an obvious fit in Greek life. I’m 6’3, I wear glasses, I’m kinda chunky and awkward looking. In fact, you could describe me as a tall drink of water with a silver spoon up my ass, but I knew that the process isn’t a beauty contest, and it’s not even a stereotype contest. I thought the best way was to show my personality, and the brothers would realize that I was a good fit for their fraternity.
I went to the first rush events at a few houses and found one I really liked. I decided to only pursue that house. I went to several more of the rush events, and I felt like I was doing a good job selling myself. I felt confident that I would get a bid.
However, that confidence quickly waned. A number of people got bids, and I was still waiting. I Facebook messaged the rush chair, just asking when the next event was, hoping that maybe that question would result in good news. But when I read his message, my heart dropped. “Sorry [name], I just don’t see a place for you in this pledge class, but we’d love it if you rushed again in the spring.”
I panicked. I texted everyone else I knew in a fraternity, but all the responses were the same, some version of them apologizing that they couldn’t help, because rush was essentially over, and why didn’t I rush their house earlier on in the process.
This damn near killed me. I thought I had done well in the rush process. I had signed up for a light first semester of classes, fully expecting to pledge, but worst of all, all of the friends I had made thus far ended up getting bids to one house or another, which would leave me with one of the worst scenarios a person can have: too much time on their hands, and no one to hang out with.
The fall semester of my freshman year was the worst five months of my life. I was miserable from not getting into a fraternity, for having all my friends not available to hang out, and for not having anything to do on weekends. My grades stank, but even so, the thought of spring rush coming closer, one day at a time, meant that I still had a chance. There was still a light at the end of the tunnel.
I knew a different approach was needed this time. I needed to make better relationships with people I knew in fraternities and I needed to rush more houses, to give myself more chances.
I got myself on the rush list at the house I rushed in the fall, and I also started to communicate more with current brothers of other houses. I went home for winter break feeling good about my chances.
Again though, the title gives away too much. For the house in which I was on the rush list, well, let’s say that no one from the house contacted me, not about rush events, not even to say they weren’t considering me — nothing. And for the other house I felt good about, the spring rush chair, a guy I had known for seven years at that point, told me it would be a good idea to rush other houses. I wanted to punch a hole in the drywall of my dorm room.
That’s life. Sometimes you want something so badly, and you can’t have it. I knew after that text, and my subsequent rushes of other houses that I was too late to get a bid too, that I was a confirmed GDI. My friends who had all joined fraternities at IU and at other schools called me a GDI, to which I replied “for now,” were right. I had to start a new chapter of collegiate life, one I had never planned to do: be a GDI.
Red told Andy in The Shawshank Redemption, “Let me tell you something my friend. Hope is a dangerous thing. Hope can drive a man insane.” I had been going insane from hoping to get in to a fraternity, but with that hope gone, I was actually happier. Yes, I wanted desperately to be in a fraternity, but I knew it wasn’t going to happen. It gave me the closure I needed to move on.
This site likes to say that there are two people in this world: Greeks and GDIs. Well, there’s a third category: Greek on the inside, geed on the outside (sung to the tune of Ice Cream Paint Job). With the first two, people must choose for themselves which they belong to. For the third one, I, and the rest of us who wanted to be Greek, were not able to choose. We told ourselves that we will not be in one group, but our preferred group told us no. This is the somber truth, and it sucks.
I still consider myself a “fratty” GDI, for lack of a better term. I visit TFM all the time. I own multiple pairs of boat shoes and wear them on a regular basis. I’m interning at my dad’s company. I drink and party and do other less-than-legal activities.
During spring break, I visited a buddy of mine up in Washington, and I stayed in his fraternity house for the weekend I was there. My mind was blown. It was everything I had wanted. The brotherhood I sensed amongst the guys, the parties, the fun I was constantly surrounded by — I realized that I did truly want this, even if I’ve already failed.
Fall down two. Stand up three.
Andy was not going to be held down. He told Red, “Hope is a good thing, maybe the best of things, and no good thing ever dies.”
So, fraternity gentlemen of Indiana University, look out for me at Fall Rush 2013. I’m the 6’3 guy with glasses, who’s kinda chunky and awkward looking. Look closer, though, because you’re going see a guy with a fresh pep in his step. You’re going to see a guy full of optimism. Full of hope.
I’d love to finally get that elusive bid card. I hope the card is as beautiful as it has been in my dreams. I think I’d be a great pledge, and an even better brother, because that bid, for me, will be what Andy’s Bible was for him.
Salvation will lie within.