I traded cigarettes for friends

Last weekend I discovered a major dissatisfaction within my life: the inability to understand women both globally and individually. I’ve been missing out on a fundamental aspect of most girls’ lives. Growing up, my mother did not have any healthy relationships with women. I’m beginning to understand that even the few girlfriends she did have did not like her very much.

I’ve always felt like there was something missing in my life. I’ve tried filling the hole with a ton of different solutions and while they may work out temporarily, often times they fail and leave me with even more confusing questions than when I began.

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I’ve been going through this sort of reinvention phase of my life. I ended a failed relationship with my ex-boyfriend, moved into my own apartment, went pescatarian, quit smoking (finally!), changed my wardrobe, deleted all my social media (I’m back on it now), and really took stock of what my life contained. When classes started I knew I needed to join something, some sort of club or sports team or anything really that would get me involved with a bunch of people who enjoyed the same things I did. Only problem: I have a broken toe (the most annoying injury ever that’s likely going to take about 6 months to heal) and a torn rotator cuff. Suffice to say, my dreams of sports and activities were put on the back burner right around the same time I officially started classes at my new, four year university. Goodbye community college, hello student loans! Except, here I was completely stranded and totally alone. Although I wasn’t far from home, I wanted to taste that independence I’d dreamt about.

I think I called a few people crying during my latest meltdown. I spent the days questioning my decisions, terrified of the idea of failure and total loneliness. In the back of my mind I think I knew it would get better but it kind of felt like everything was falling down and all the hopes I’d prepared were doomed from the get go.

Part of my list of activities I’d wanted to investigate were the campus sororities. My brother was in a fraternity and loved it. The morning after my meltdown I figured, fuck it, why not just see what it was all about. I did the online training (anti hazing, anti drugs/drinking information), paid the $60 and headed off to the info seminar Friday afternoon. I think by the end of the info session I was pretty much sold. I saw how all the girls on the council flowed together.

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The most intriguing part was by far the organization itself. As I came to discover over the recruitment weekend, there were so many traditions, rituals, and rules set down to make the experience as unbiased as possible. I had no idea what any of the house reputations were, what the rumors were, anything. I just knew the women in lines around me. For those few days of uncertainty, before we received our bids and decided our chapters, we all timidly decided to be friendly to one another. We marveled at the decorations and each other’s outfits. We discussed make up and shoes and our nerves whenever we heard the clapping and chanting coming from behind the closed party doors. We lined up in alphabetical order and speculated what the reasons for it were. Come to find, the recruitment process had been so detail oriented, the chapters researched us in depth before we even entered the room. Our online applications had been thoroughly examined and pairs pre-made.

The first day I left and walked home, I felt so insanely connected with the mass of women I’d spent the previous hours with. I knew that I didn’t like all of them and yet it didn’t really matter because we were all experiencing similar thoughts and feelings. We all wanted the same thing: a place to belong, a home.

We weren’t allowed to talk to one another as all 400 of us waited in line to put our final bids into the computers; but we did. We weren’t allowed to call our parents and ask their opinions; but we did. We weren’t supposed to check our facebooks or anything; but we did. And we all rolled our eyes when we got yelled at and we all laughed when the group leaders walked away. We stood nervously, anticipating the end of the weekend and the ensuing festivities. 

When I walked to get my bid the next day, I forced myself to wait an hour before getting my final answer. I cried when I opened up my manila envelope. I cried when I ran down the aisle of screaming students, hoping I didn’t face plant. I cried as I hugged everyone. 

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