Brotherhood: Bound in Blood

Brotherhood: Bound in Blood

An intro to the VMI experience

The first day of college. A day filled with excitement, anxiety, smiles, hugs and a positive outlook on the year to come in a new environment filled with new people and things to do. Well, that is if you weren’t one of the 1,500 idiots that enrolled at VMI after high school. My first day of college was a bit unorthodox. As I looked into the face of the Brother Rat in front of me, tears streaming down his face, I almost laughed to myself. Not at him, of course. But at my own life decisions that had led me to this point. In that moment I cannot begin to tell you how much I wished I was in the shoes of one of my high school classmates. Oh boy, what have you gotten yourself into now

Just 30 minutes ago we marched from the basketball arena where we said goodbye to our parents and loved ones and started up the hill to Barracks. As we sprinted inside, it felt like a prison; fresh meat was arriving… We stood in formation, 500 of us in all, in the Barracks Courtyard, as our cadre, which were like our drill sergeants, marched in to meet us. The Institute, that was just at full throat screaming at us as we entered, now fell silent as a crypt. All we could hear were bass and snare drums and the feet of the most impressive young men and women I had met in my 18 years of life. They seemed larger than life. Chests puffed out in the iconic gray uniform with white trousers, close cut hair, muscular, chiseled. Quite a contrast from the high school graduates that faced them. We had long hair, slouched, and looked around like a fish out of water in our t-shirts and shorts.

I don’t remember much of the speech that was given to us by a high ranking cadet at that time but I do remember that our cadre were “the essence of VMI” and that “They will not give up on you, even after many of you have given up on yourselves.” That stuck with me. This place was different. That was clear to me in that moment. During the next 6 months, known as the Ratline, I got to learn just how different VMI really was. We learned to eat, sleep, drink, speak, walk, and live in a different way. Different from our civilian college counterparts and with the rest of the world.

Our struggles are tough, the sweat runs deep, blood, thick, and the tears, emotional. Our smiles are real, our humor is crude, our mouths are dirty and our love is abounding. These are the stories of the VMI Men and Women, from their own mouths. You’ll howl with laughter, you’ll cry and hopefully you’ll learn a thing or two about life when you see it through our eyes.

Rah Virginia Mil’!

Cadet Eli Forbes

1PSG Alpha Company

Class of 2018

Virginia Military Institute

Cover Image Credit: A Hard Knock Cadet

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To The Girl Struggling With Her Body Image

It's not about the size of your jeans, but the size of your heart, soul, and spirit.


To the girl struggling with her body image,

You are more than the number on the scale. You are more than the number on your jeans and dresses. You are way more than the number of pounds you've gained or lost in whatever amount of time.

Weight is defined as the quantity of matter contained by a body or object. Weight does not define your self-worth, ambition or potential.

So many girls strive for validation through the various numbers associated with body image and it's really so sad seeing such beautiful, incredible women become discouraged over a few numbers that don't measure anything of true significance.

Yes, it is important to live a healthy lifestyle. Yes, it is important to take care of yourself. However, taking care of yourself includes your mental health as well. Neglecting either your mental or physical health will inflict problems on the other. It's very easy to get caught up in the idea that you're too heavy or too thin, which results in you possibly mistreating your body in some way.

Your body is your special, beautiful temple. It harbors all of your thoughts, feelings, characteristics, and ideas. Without it, you wouldn't be you. If you so wish to change it in a healthy way, then, by all means, go ahead. With that being said, don't make changes to impress or please someone else. You are the only person who is in charge of your body. No one else has the right to tell you whether or not your body is good enough. If you don't satisfy their standards, then you don't need that sort of negative influence in your life. That sort of manipulation and control is extremely unhealthy in its own regard.

Do not hold back on things you love or want to do because of how you interpret your body. You are enough. You are more than enough. You are more than your exterior. You are your inner being, your spirit. A smile and confidence are the most beautiful things you can wear.

It's not about the size of your jeans. It's about the size of your mind and heart. Embrace your body, observe and adore every curve, bone and stretch mark. Wear what makes you feel happy and comfortable in your own skin. Do your hair and makeup (or don't do either) to your heart's desire. Wear the crop top you've been eyeing up in that store window. Want a bikini body? Put a bikini on your body, simple.

So, as hard as it may seem sometimes, understand that the number on the scale doesn't measure the amount or significance of your contributions to this world. Just because that dress doesn't fit you like you had hoped doesn't mean that you're any less of a person.

Love your body, and your body will love you right back.

Cover Image Credit: Lauren Margliotti

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Why You Should Bring Your Close Friend As Your Formal Date

Before asking that cute girl to formal think about asking a friend


Every year since I was a junior in high school I have always looked forward to homecoming or prom. When I got to college I began to look forward to my fraternity formal. I was never concerned with what to wear or the expense of formal but rather who I was going to ask. It can be difficult to make a decision. If you ask anyone friends with me they will tell you how I am one of the most indecisive people out there. There are so many people I am friendly with or have a close relationship that it can feel difficult to make a decision. But let's look at that phrase again. You might think why does he want to bring someone who is his friend to his fraternity formal rather than someone he likes or is dating. To answer this question, some of the girls I have liked I have not been able to be the true me around and that also applies to the girls I have dated as well. I am different around my friends and I want someone to know the real me rather than me just having to pretend.

Maybe I am still experiencing the effects of a fun weekend but I have noticed that every formal or prom that I have brought a date with not only was a fun formal but interacted and connected well with my friends. That is the main thing I look for in a formal date, they need to be liked by my friends and many of them are still pretty friendly after the formal. You are spending the weekend with them and the drive down for you formal. There will be a lot of time spent with your date so it is important to bring someone you know you will have fun with. I am not saying that there isn't anything wrong with bringing someone else but I always found it best to bring a friend if you are not dating someone.

Think about the people you know you will always have fun with. This can be an indication of who you should bring and why but you should also think about the positives in this situation. Your fun and the time spent with the people should be prioritized before anything else. This event is about you and you should have someone with you that you know is fun to be around and someone you can enjoy yourself around along with your friends. Friends know you as well as you know yourself so there is not an idea of having to pretend to be someone else. The good thing about friends is that you do not run out of things to talk about and there is always something new to learn. Take your formal as a trip that you get to experience with the people closest to you. That is my take.

The key for me is to know that I will have fun with my date at formal. The drive to formal can be long and you are sharing a hotel room with your date along with spending time with them during the trip. I talk a lot. I want someone I know who I can carry a conversation with and will not just respond with words such as Yeah or Sounds good. I have always been able to remember not only my formals but specific parts of it as well. I think this is possible because of who I have brought and the memories I made with them.

Formals are important to everyone so think about who you want to spend that moment with. There is nothing wrong with bringing someone who you like but there also is nothing wrong with bringing a friend. Some people might bring someone they are dating but you should not have to compare yourself to other people. Do what makes you happy but remember this weekend is about you and you deserve to bring someone you will have fun with.

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