As I waited in our fraternity basement, with only my elbows on bottlecaps and toes on the sticky, beer-stained floor, I thought to myself: This isn’t worth it.
My father, who I am no longer on speaking terms with, always expected me to be a “fraternity man.” He grew up instilling “fraternity values” in me, in an authoritarian manner, nonetheless. When I was 14, I asked him if I could go to acting camp. He sent me to football camp. Dad was never there for me, unless it was to replace my paint brush with a golf club. Either way, I still loved the guy and wanted to make him proud. So, when my acceptance letter to his alma mater came in the mail and I saw the grin on his face, I knew my fate was sealed. I was going to be a “pledge” in the fraternity where I had grown up going to football tailgates.
I went to two rush events that summer and knew the frat lifestyle wasn’t for me, but it was fun, and before long, the bid came. I hesitantly accepted. The next few months were hell, and the years after that never overshadowed my horrible pledge experience.
The truth of the matter is, in a lot of ways, it wasn’t worth it to rush. Had I followed my heart and chosen not to be the stereotypical “frat boy,” I feel like I would have had a culturally diverse four years. All of the expectations I had when I weighed the “pros” of being in a fraternity weren’t true. Nobody got that much pussy in our frathouse. I would’ve gotten laid way more often in the dorms — where at least everything was clean and well-kept. I didn’t make my “best friends for life” in college — those are still the guys I met in high school. The business connections were worthless, unless I wanted to go into something empty like “commercial real estate” or “banking.”
My favorite college event wasn’t a fraternity social or a formal. It was April of 2011 when a couple of my “GDI” friends and I organized “Quidditch in the Commons” — which was, to date, the biggest Harry Potter fan-gathering my school has ever seen.
I’m not saying fraternities are inherently bad. They aren’t. A lot of good comes from fraternity life. But at what cost? You’re only alive for 80 years at best, so don’t you want to experience more than the homogeny that exists inside the Greek life realm? This world has so much for you to explore, to learn, to experience, that if you spend your time idly sitting by with the same seven friends for four or five years, you’ve really wasted a lot of time.
If I could give incoming college freshman advice, it would be this: Follow your heart. Don’t let society’s expectations of you influence who you really want to be. Fraternity life is good for some guys, but it isn’t for everyone.
Find where you belong after experiencing everything, not just the club some older guys from your high school invited you to join after hanging out with you at a party the summer before college started. Dare to be different..