A friend mentioned to me today that this did not feel “real”. This didn’t feel like “real school”, and that was why she had to leave. I don’t know much about that because this is the only reality that I know well. I’ve tiptoed into the bar scene schools, peeked into the house kickback schools and had a one night stand with another greek kingdom (figuratively).
For me, there’s something special about the buzz that hangs in the air before the night begins–even if the night technically begins in the early hours of the next day. There’s something perfectly cliche about hearing faint noise from music down the street as you walk towards the shambly frat houses, codenamed maybe for fun or maybe so the underground organizations don’t get in any more trouble for providing the school with neon colored juice every weekend.
The first weekend I spent at school I spent awkwardly trying to navigate these parties and this campus under the dark Carolina sky. I heard rumors about campus traditions such as stealing a brick from the thousands that pave our campus and making sure to take a dunk in one of the fountains, despite the 200$ per limb fine that looms over our heads as we block our noses and cannonball into the three feet of water.
Now it is the last weekend. I’m no longer awkwardly navigating. I know all the codenames and what they stand for. The frat map is a cute memento I have and a part of my photo wall collage. I know this campus’ layout by memory. When I came to school I thought things would be so different this year than from at home. I confused my change in geographic location for a complete change in identity. While I am not one hundred percent the same as when I arrived nine months ago–I’m not all that different.
I became more independent, and I for sure learned my limit of alcohol consumption, that crossing the railroad drunk is NEVER a good idea, and neither is Late Night, no matter how good it tastes at that moment (because it does not taste or feel good the next morning). I learned to trust my gut when it comes to the overwhelming amount of new people I met, and lastly I learned to do things, be things, for myself. Choosing a major, or a sorority, or even who I go home with, are all decisions I make and ones I make on my own. Putting yourself first isn’t selfish or negligent, it’s simply caring for your well being. My dad always says it; “worry about yourself”. It’s hard to accept that you can’t change people’s ideas about themselves or about you, but trying to remember that they are also “worrying about themselves” is a good place to start.
I’ve had the best year dancing on platforms, dancing on couches, dancing on tables, dancing in the streets, kissing boys, taking morning adventures to new coffee shops, finding over 100 new sisters, finding the best chicken fingers in North Carolina (and the best hibachi), and finding some very very special people along the way. As my year wraps up and my room becomes bare, I take the time to reflect. I’m happy to be here even if this isn’t a “real school” (Which it totally is).