by Taylor Deer
Dear Greek Life,
I haven’t told you this but, I miss you.
Look, don’t get all weird on me here, just listen for a second.
We’ve been through a lot together, so I feel like I need to be honest with you. We don’t hang out that much anymore, and lately I’ve noticed that you’ve been hanging out with Popularity a lot. I know you’re “just friends”, but ever since you’ve been hanging out with her you’ve changed. I know she’s cool and everything…but whenever you hang out with her you act totally different. My fear is that everyone loves Popularity, and I think you only want to hang out with her because of the attention that comes with it.
Whew… I said it!
Looking back, I started to notice it before we first met. When you spend too much time with her, you become a warped version of yourself. It’s almost as if you decide to parade yourself in the way that you think you should look and act. I saw you as loud. Obnoxious. Self-important. Clearly compensating for something else. People called it Formal Recruitment, or Rush week, and you know what? That’s the perfect name for it, because everything was rushed.
You asked me, ‘Hey, how’s it going?” However, like a used car salesman, I knew you were just impatiently waiting to drop the real question….. “Ever think about joining Greek Life?”
Look, you and I have been through a lot, so I feel like I can be honest: Rush week was tacky. You might as well wear a sign around your neck that says: “I’m desperate!” for a week, and I bet it would have the same effect.
Anyway, my first impression was so bad that I had to ask people about you.
Everyone had an opinion: good, bad, and straight-up ugly. I heard every story in the book. After listening to these stories, I felt like there was still more to you than meets the eye. There were too many conflicting views to draw an accurate picture. I almost decided not to meet up with you, but I think Curiosity pushed me into it (you know how she gets). To this day, I still don’t know what compelled me to walk the 20 minutes across campus to show up to a strange house where 22 dudes all live together and who refer to themselves as a Brotherhood. But I did.
That’s where we first met.
At first, you still hung on to that pretentious vibe, probably because Popularity was still on your mind. But the more and more we hung out, it was like you finally felt like you could just be yourself. You were friendly, relatable, relaxed, genuine, quiet, and honest. I saw you as someone who wasn’t trying to be anyone else. There was real beauty in your imperfections, and you made other people feel like they could be themselves around you too. You know what? That’s what everyone loves you for.
The problem is, like me, they have to bushwhack their way past the horrible first impression you create when you want Popularity’s attention. The matching T-shirt wearing, obnoxious chanting, boisterous, overly extroverted, picture (retaken until) perfect, version of yourself. It was shocking really, the difference between who you think you should be and who you actually are. One time, when you were around Popularity a lot, someone next to me said, “pfff, I would never hang out with Greek Life.” The only way I could defend you was to say, “Ah, well, you just have to know ‘em….”
Look, I know that was a weak argument, but what else was I going to say? Whenever you are around her….. you kind of are a tool. Its like I don’t even recognize you. I’m sorry, but someone has to say it!
It’s nothing against Popularity. Popularity is neither good nor bad, but we are who we surround ourselves by. When Popularity is your only friend, you tend to only focus on your life through the eyes of others. You start to relentlessly pursue all that is shiny, flashy, exciting, and new, just to hang out with Popularity one more time. In that pursuit, I’ve seen you stray away who you really are and where you come from.
I’m writing to you because you are one of the biggest influences in a young person’s life who goes to college. Ben Parker (Spider-Man’s Uncle, don’t you dare act like you’re too cool for Spider-Man) said, “With great power, comes great responsibility.” Young men and women worship Popularity and they will do just about anything to get a moment of her attention. This is dangerous if gone unchecked, and right now there is not a lot showing young people that there is more to life than the attention being liked brings. It is hurting people.
You, Greek Life, have the power (and responsibility) to change that.
I think when you spend too much time with Popularity, you are just amplifying everything that hurts our young men and women. The students who spend their lives with you might get caught up in that pursuit, unless you start showing students the things that I know you love so much but don’t normally talk about. Things like: empathy, kindness, respect, love, generosity, care, passion, purpose, genuineness, peace, and patience.
The people who love you know you’re not loud. The people who love you know that you’re not perfect. They know that there is more than enough strength and beauty in your true self, which for some reason, only comes out when you forget about Popularity. I know this because I got to meet the real you. I hope that you continue to give people a place that encourages that in others. There are not a lot of places young men and women can go in today’s world which do not judge them for who they are, and I know you are the best version of yourself when you give them that place.
I only hope that you don’t forget to love who you really are, and show people that there is more to this world than the pursuit of Popularity.
Like I said, I miss you, and I think we should hang out more often!