Strolls, calls, nicknames, and wearing letters always enticed me. Who wouldn't want to be a part of a fraternity when they go to college? The glamour is almost overwhelming. It may even lead you to do crazy things.
The thought of being accepted into something like a fraternity first crossed my mind at age eleven. While being apart of my brother's high school marching band which was run by a down south, HBCU style director, band life and Greek life quickly became a part of who I was growing to be. My brother crossed into a national fraternity while he was in high school. I watched him stroll and become part of a brotherhood that I only dreamed of joining. Meanwhile, I had band life down packed, but Greek life was something that alluded me mainly due to my age and inexperience in the world. For eight years, I knew exactly what I wanted to do as soon as I hit college, and when I did? Well, you already know what happens next: I finally made my childhood dreams come true and pledged to a fraternity.
Before Hunter, I attended a college that was pretty small and not necessarily the most diverse. That being said, I pledged to a fraternity not really knowing much about its background and cultural diversity. That was my first mistake.
You should always research a group before you decide to pledge the rest of your life to it. For some reason, the idea of being part of a brotherhood overshadowed my right judgment.
I officially started my process of being a pledge, and even though I made connections with people that I never will forget, I will always remember that I was never comfortable. Every event, every meeting, I tried to convince myself more and more that I belonged to a group of people that didn't belong to me. As the group I tried to be part of was embedded in a culture that wasn't my own, I slowly grew to learn that I wasn't one of them, and I didn't want to be.
American fraternities already have this stigma about them that may drive people away. As there are amazing fraternities out there that do a lot for their communities and members, it's no secret that some folks look down upon it. As everyone has their different reasons and opinions, I can say that mine ultimately contributed to me dropping the fraternity, and in turn discovering more about myself than I imagined.
Comfort is something that is essential to joining any group, no matter what it is. If you are not comfortable, then you have a right to stop.
Throughout the process, it was instilled in my head that if you dropped, you were weak. Understand though, that if you decide to leave something because you feel it's best for you, then you are not weak. Do not let anyone tell you that you're below them or make you feel less than what you are, no matter how much better you think it's going to make you. Your best development cannot come from anyone else besides you. No group nor person besides yourself can ultimately decide the growth of yourself as a person.
When I dropped Greek life, I began to understand that it's about you. No one else's opinions matter as long as you're strong and firm in your own beliefs. The more I think about it, the more I'm grateful for my Greek life experience. It was difficult, it was hard, and it was annoying, but it groomed me. It groomed me to be a better person for myself. Not because I crossed or the people within the fraternity made me better, but because I found courage in myself to leave and do better for myself despite anyone's opinion.
When I pledged, I realized that my concerns and ideas did not match up with those I was trying to be part of. I sometimes think that if I pledged to one of the divine nine, or attended an HBCU, I would've had a different or better experience. Regardless, even though I am in no rush to try this again, I am happy that I went through this experience. I'm happy that I realized self-growth is the best growth possible.
No matter what anyone says, whether you dropped or they dropped you, you should always strive to be the best YOU can be.