It broke my heart to see so many people not getting into the sorority or fraternity they wanted. Some of my most favorite people on Duke’s campus didn’t even make it to the last round of their first choice living option, and I felt awkward.
Awkward because I don’t have a good answer when someone tells me they got screwed by the system. Awkward because I somehow lucked out and got the sorority I really wanted.
But now I feel like I understand a bit more.
I didn’t get the SLG I wanted, and I am really disappointed. Recently I was hanging out with all of the people in that SLG, and I had this moment of pure bliss. I looked around me and loved the people I was talking to, I felt like I was actually being myself and that people seemed to genuinely like me, and my cheeks legitimately hurt from smiling so much.
I looked around and thought, “Wow, this could be another community of amazing people.” And I got my heart set on it.
So this morning when I woke up to an email that said I didn’t get in, I didn’t know what to do. Does this mean they didn’t actually like me? Was I being too much of myself? Maybe I shouldn’t have laughed so much. Maybe I shouldn’t have worn that outfit. Maybe I should have talked to more people. Maybe I should have stayed longer than I did. Maybe I’m just not good enough.
All of you that got rejected from your top choice living group felt this way. You had these thoughts of inferiority, of second guessing, of questioning whether the friendships you made during the rush process are even genuine at all.
So let me just make this very clear.
Stop thinking you’re not good enough. Stop thinking you did something wrong. Stop thinking you should have been less than who you are because that’s the most ridiculous comment ever. And stop thinking that just because you didn’t get into the living situation you wanted somehow means that those people didn’t like you.
You’ll never know what happened on the other end, and it’s just as awkward for you as it is for them. How do you think they feel getting to meet so many cool people then having to cut them and worrying those people will never speak to them again? How do you think they feel knowing that not everyone they love can live with them? How do you think they feel investing so much time in so many people, only for some people to get the benefit?
In a sentence: It sucks for everyone.
This situation reminds me of when I heard that an amazing guy from my hometown didn’t get into Duke early decision. He would fit in so well and would really thrive here. But he didn’t get in. He feels inferior, not well liked, and as if everyone at Duke didn’t want him.
But that isn’t the case! I want him here! And he’s definitely not inferior or why would I say he would fit in here?
Instead, too many awesome people wanted to be at Duke and somehow it didn’t work out for him.
It’s the same thing with housing situations: Too many awesome people wanting too few spots.
Rush creates this overwhelming sense of sadness and helplessness. No one wants to be rejected. In fact, Duke students, especially freshmen, aren’t used to being rejected. We got here because we’re successful, and suddenly we’re rejected and we don’t know what to do.
But you have to remember that it’s not black and white. It’s not just acceptance or rejection; it’s also, “Wow I really want her but we don’t have enough spots.” It’s, “I hope I can be best friends with her outside of this process, but I just don’t think she fits here.” Try to remember all the gray.
A lot of people I’ve talked to lately say that they worry their friendships will change. But to use a personal example, I want to tell you that they don’t.
I applied to the Baldwin Scholars program because I knew two fantastic women in it (among other reasons, too, but stay with me). I wanted to be around these women, to be more like them, to learn from them, and to be associated with them (Shoutout to Mollie and Bailey).
As you know from my rejection post, I didn’t get in. I worried those two girls would think less of me and wouldn’t be my friends anymore.
But that wasn’t the case at all. If anything, I think our friendships are stronger. And every time they ask me to hang out, I feel like the coolest person in the world. They understand just as much as I do that it’s really disappointing. They don’t have an answer, either. But it doesn’t change the fact that they love me and think highly of me.
The people who matter will stay by your side. The real, deep friendships you made will carry you through the next bumps in the road. And please just remember that you are special, you are loved, you are worthy, and you are not inferior.
I write this post knowing in the back of my mind that I have my wonderful sorority community, so I wanted to say a few words about “the independent life.”
I hate the stigma and connotation behind that. I just had my tour guide training, and the housing options at Duke were referred to as “greek life, SLG’s, or independent.” Like, okay, no. They’re not three separate entities. It makes it sound like, “Well, you can live in greek housing or in an SLG. Oh and then there are those people that live independently.” That’s just not the case. One of the people I admire the most on this campus is independent. I didn’t know she was independent until long after I had gotten to know her, and I was shocked. I remember saying, “But… You’re so cool.” Because I had fallen into the trap of believing that people are somehow not as awesome if they’re not in an SLG or a sorority/fraternity (Shoutout to Eleanor). The ridiculousness of this notion has been further proved by all the amazing freshmen I know that will now be living independently next year.
When I give a tour, I will “waste” a few seconds to rephrase housing like this:
“There are many different places to live on west and central campus once you’re an upperclassman. You can live with people you met during the rush process for sororities or fraternities, you can live with people you met during the rush process for SLG’s, you can block with any group of people that you’ve come to love, or you can live with a random group of people you don’t know but that you will get to know. Duke is what you make it. If you invest in your housing situation, it will be amazing. Because Duke is an amazing place full of amazing people.”
Join the movement to get rid of the independent stigma. Join the movement to get rid of the awkwardness that comes from rejections during Rush. Join the movement to develop friendships that were made during the rush process, even if that living situation didn’t work out. Join the movement to give everyone, and every housing option, a chance.