Fraternity men walk a very delicate balance in their daily lives. There are certain lifestyle and behavioral expectations that we have for every active member of a fraternity. They usually involve attire, drinking habits, female attention, and excellence in all activities. However, the other side that we acknowledge is that the over emphasis of one or more of these categories could potentially earn you the label of a “tryhard.” What is a tryhard exactly? I’ve often found that the definition varies, and is many times simply tossed at someone who fraternity guys don’t particularly like. So, in that way, being a tryhard is a lot like being a hipster. No one knows exactly what it means, but you know it when you see it.
I’m of the opinion that being a tryhard requires two things: 1. trying too hard (duh) to impress other members of the fraternity world, by 2. going crazy with the basics. The basics of the fraternity wardrobe: khakis, button-up oxfords, boat shoes, backwards hats, polos, nut-hugging shorts, pastel pants, Columbia PFGs, loafers, polarized shades, croakies…you get the idea. The problem is a tryhard takes all of these and stacks as many of them on top of each other as he can. You don’t have to dress like the Vineyard Vines whale threw up on you, kid. Try out some subtlety.
The basics of drinking are even simpler. Party hard and have a good time. But many tryhards take this to mean “get drunk every night and act like a buffoon.” Choose your spots. Every party legend I ever looked up to was also one of the smartest guys in his class, and he always got his shit done. No one likes the guy who stumbles into every study session with a bottle of whiskey, demanding everyone take a shot. It’s funny the first time, but it gets old quick. And don’t even get me started on women. Tryhards will say some of the most cringe-worthy things you’ve ever heard to girls, expecting them to melt in his arms. Don’t ever read his text messages; it will make you want to crumple in on yourself. He’ll also lie through his teeth about who and how many he’s bedded.
You’re probably wondering, “Didn’t the title of this imply there would be a defense?” And you’re right. You don’t need a whole column about how annoying tryhards can be. You see it all too often in your own lives. However, they do have a few good qualities, the first being that they are loyal to a fault. See, a tryhard has completely bought into the fraternity lifestyle–so much so that he doesn’t see any kind of life outside of it. This means that he’ll do whatever he can to maintain the integrity of the chapter. He might boast too much about what he did during pledging, but he will NEVER reveal any real secrets. He’ll never utter a word to administration unless given permission by the officers. Even then, he’ll probably still keep his mouth shut. The fraternity is his life, and he’s not gonna let a little pressure from upstairs get in the way of the thing that defines his existence.
There’s so much monotonous bullshit that comes with being in a fraternity that no one tells you about–mandatory attendance at events, planning those events, philanthropy, house maintenance, setting up for parties, cleaning up after parties, and the list goes on. Sure, a lot of that is taken care of by the pledges, but you don’t have pledges year round. Plus, there’s a litany of other behind the scenes stuff getting done at all times that most of the brothers don’t even know about. The officers usually have a set group of guys that they’ll go to with boring tasks they need taken care of. And you know who those guys are most of the time? Tryhards. Because the officers are smart (or at least, I hope for your sake they are). They know that it’s much easier to talk Jimmy Pastelclash into doing the nitty gritty stuff than twisting the arm of your average brother. The fact is, as much as they grind our gears, the tryhards keep the trains running on time.
And that’s really what it all comes down to. The tryhards might be trying too damn hard, but at least they’re trying. The rest of us are all guilty of not putting in the effort at times once we we’re full actives, and it only gets worse with each passing year. By the time you’re a fifth-year, you might as well be an alum who just shows up for boobs and beer, which is also why you’ll notice that most tryhards also happen to be JIs. They’re so excited about being in that they don’t know what to do with themselves, so they try to do everything. Most of the guys grow out of it. Some of them don’t. So all that I ask is that you take a young tryhard under your wing when you return in the fall. Show him that every piece of clothing he owns doesn’t have to be “TFM approved.” Tell him to cool his jets with drinking all the time to impress people. For fuck’s sake, teach him how to talk to women. But most of all, thank him for trying so hard, because without guys like him, your chapter wouldn’t be nearly as great as it is now.