I had painted houses the summer after college and was working for a guy who became my friend and TRULY my Brother now, and for the past 17 years. I had every intention to live at home, but he introduced me to his fraternity buddies. He “rushed” me as it’s called, when I told him I had no desire to do so or join a frat. I imagined what most people do with frats. Animal House. Partying. Debauchery.
I didn’t even drink. In high school, I only went to two parties and ended up feeling uncomfortable the whole time and taking care of drunk people (unfruitful endeavor). I sat over them, watching them and wondering at what point 911 would need to be called. As a child, I resolved never to drink, since alcohol was a drug, and "drugs are bad, mmmkay?"
When I met some of the guys in the fraternity, I was pleasantly surprised. Very surprised. My stereotypes were all wrong. I met a hodge-podge of laid back dudes. In an afternoon, I saw this House was like an anti-clique. An “island of misfit toys” as one guy said. He was right. And I was a good misfit. I had such a strong yearning for male role models, and here in front of me was a literal brotherhood- they even called it that!
I met upper-classmen with concrete majors, concrete goals, concrete jobs lined up. Many had mature confident poises. Some had college sweethearts and watching them interact was like watching young married couples. They talked about marriage. They talked like partners. They wanted families. I wanted a family. One thing I recognized from a young age in reference to my dad was that I wanted to be a legitimate dad. More than anything. I glimpsed into the future and liked what I saw. I felt this place could give me so much that I had missed- that I was missing. So after a couple weeks of “rushing” (without drinking!) I joined.
Joining a fraternity was much to the disappointment of my mom for numerous reasons. I tried to pitch it like my activities in high school, selling the networking and development experiences. She wasn’t buying it. My buddy let me crash in his room for the first quarter, so I ended up just staying there. This caused some controversy in the frat, since I was being a free-loader. I like to think they recognized the investment paid off as I became an engaged member for years.
Fraternity life in college quickly killed my pre-med track doctor plans. Yes, Greek Life was distracting from education, but it's not impossible to have a hard major and have fun. Which in hindsight, was a good thing as I don’t think it was what I was meant to do, anyway. If I was passionate about chemistry as a medical school pre-req, then I would have seen it through. I like to think the fraternity just helped streamline the process.
Sorry, Fam. I did a lot of growing up. I did a lot of learning about Life. But not in the most industrious of ways.
The fraternity wasn’t Animal House... except when it was. I drank a LOT of alcohol, but by college standards, I was pretty middle of the pack. I skipped a lot of classes, but learned to study smarter, not harder (a worthy skill for Life). I took a lot of filler classes, as most people did to boost my GPA and got out with a 3.51. It’s sad that’s a thing, spending so much money to not learn.. but that's our educational system (avoiding tangent).
Academically, most of my time in college was figuring out what I didn’t want to do for a career.
It is worth mentioning that I have extreme gratitude for my friends and brothers in my Fraternity. It’s more than just the Butterfly Effect I mentioned, where all that got me to “here.” I got what I signed up for. Quality role models. Loyal friends I will have for life. The company and fellowship of authentic men. Some of them had strong upbringings with True North determined. They shared that with the rest of us. Others of us were bumbling along on our way, and I like to think most of us have gotten where we need to be, or are at least still on track.
One of the biggest lessons I learned in the House was Accountability. As I said, I was pretty middle of the pack in the realm of partying. That leaves the extremes. We had guys in our house destroy stuff. We had guys in our house picking fights. We had a guy in our house pass out in the middle of the street with a blood alcohol of 0.3. Deadly if he wasn’t already a severe alcoholic.
I took up leadership positions in the fraternity, which included being on our judicial board. "You’re a member, you’re a friend, but you messed up." Actions have consequences. Big actions have big consequences. This experience of being objective and holding others to critical standards, regardless of relationship was paramount. It did a lot for my maturity, and drew a parallel to my future career.
Love and caring is holding others accountable. Apathy and neglect are exactly the opposite.
Stay tuned for the next installation, follow @bluegritwellness on Instagram for updates.
Please like, share, and send the blog to anyone you think it will help.
Next stop... the road to Police Work.