If there’s anything that students at the College of William and Mary can agree on, it’s that freshman year is unquestionably chaotic. From making friends in freshman residence halls to joining clubs and organizations, there is always an abundance of new things to experience and new people to meet.
I relished having so many opportunities to broaden my horizons and pursue extracurricular activities with greater freedom than I’d enjoyed in high school. Looking back a year later, I feel resolute and confident in my decisions of which activities to pursue.
While I’m so grateful for the personal and professional growth I’ve undergone in the past 12 months, I can also acknowledge that my fall semester last year was occasionally turbulent. It took me a month or so to feel like I truly belonged at the College.
For a brief period of time, I genuinely feared I would never find a group of people or an organization that I felt entirely safe in. Luckily, by October I had met friends and joined clubs that quickly transformed my first-year experience, and the mild social discomfort I experienced dissipated by midterms season.
However, my decision to rush a fraternity was something that required more than just a month of emotional processing. I had not really considered joining Greek life before spring semester last year.
Ultimately, the social and academic pressures of acclimating to college led me to postpone rushing until I had developed a network of supportive friends outside of Greek life. Now, as a sophomore, I am confident that rushing this year instead was the right decision.
I am a fairly extroverted individual and I love meeting new people, but like many twamps, I find the prospect of continuous social interaction to be exhausting. Rushing was an exciting experience during which I got to meet plenty of wonderful people, but after each event I felt the insatiable craving to go back to my dorm room, drink some tea and relax with my friends.
It was incredibly restorative to already have a network of friends to lean on whenever I felt stressed about the process, and I’m sure that trying to rush last year without those sources of support would have been challenging.
I am also glad that I had a year to reflect on why I wanted to rush, as having that additional time gave me a greater understanding of what I wanted to get out of the experience when I went through the rush process this fall. I knew that I wanted to join a community that focused on brotherhood, and I also wanted to become more involved with philanthropy.
After a year, I felt that I knew I could find a place that aligned with my goals in a fraternity. I am confident in my decision and excited for what my remaining three years have in store for me, but that confidence is largely the result of doing things a year later than usual.
It is okay to take time for yourself before committing to an organization, Greek or otherwise; for me, it brought me certainty, clarity and a greater appreciation for my time here.
Email Ethan Brown at firstname.lastname@example.org.