What I’ve learned spanning two years at university

It feels like I just graduated from high school a few months ago, yet I’m sitting on my bed filling out my calendar for the fall of my junior year. Even though it hasn’t felt like it’s been two years, I still have learned more than I can put in a blog post, but I’m going to try anyway. The things I learned aren’t in any particular order of importance, but rather the order I learned them in.

1. Don’t stress about not fitting in. You’ll find your niche.

It most definitely hurt and there were absolutely be a generous amount of tears as I scrolled through social media and saw all of the photos from bid day while you’re curled up in a ball on your too-small twin sized bed. I tried to pretend it didn’t hurt, but it totally did. And you know what? It’s OK. I went through formal recruitment my freshman year– no bid. Informal recruitment for four different sororities panning two years– no bid. As someone who didn’t have a lot of girlfriends and really wanted a sense of belonging, I was extremely frustrated. I about gave up hope on the Greek Life thing altogether when during a flag football game, one of my teammates nonchalantly dropped that she was in a sorority. (We needed more girls and said she was going to post something in her sorority’s GroupMe.) I hadn’t heard of it before. It wasn’t associated with Panhellenic. It’s not a social sorority, it’s a service sorority.

As time went on, I realized I knew of more and more people in the sorority. When spring formal recruitment came around, I was going to give Greek Life one more shot. As I was participating in the events, I felt that this sorority was different than the other 13 I rushed my freshman year. I couldn’t put my finger on it at first, but I realized down the road that the two are completely different. It’s like comparing apples to oranges, for cliché’s sake. A week later I was given a bid to Omega Phi Alpha and I’ve loved it ever since. Now, OPhiA isn’t the “typical sorority” you see in the movies. We’re a diverse group of women who lead very different lives. I’m a sports writer. We have women who cosplay (and are AMAZING at it). One of the sisters I’m closest to is Indian. A handful of my sisters are openly bisexual or lesbian. One of my sisters is married. Our current president runs a very successful fashion blog. Our Vice President knows more about politics than anyone I know. We as individuals make our organization unique. That’s what’s so great about us.

Am I saying everyone needs to join a sorority? No. Of course not. I am saying that everyone needs to be involved in a club or organization of some sort.

Aside from Omega Phi Alpha, I’m a member of KU Babes, an all-women’s weightlifting club, the PR coordinator for the Journalism Student Ambassador Program and a sports writer and former Special Sections Editor for the student newspaper on our campus, the University Daily Kansan. All of these organizations have helped shape me into the person I am today. I’ve met some of my closest friends from being a part of the groups I’m involved with.

Did I end up in Greek Life? Yes, I did, but not the traditional way and not the traditional house, either. The standard sororities weren’t for me. It took me over a year to learn that. Some people thrive in Greek Life. And others thrive in other organizations. Neither needs to knock the other. It’s totally OK to end up in one, or both of those things. I found that my niche is a weird one. I’m a sports obsessed, weightlifting, srat girl. That’s who I am and where I’m most comfortable. Believe it or not, I’m not the only one. My big loves Kansas basketball and plays water polo. She’s pretty awesome and I love her.

2. It’s totally normal to not hang out with anyone from your floor after you move out.

My roommate situation my freshman year was… interesting… to say the least. I roomed with my best friend from high school and two girls we met on Facebook. If you’re a girl and you think rooming with your high school BFF is the way to go, I have three words for you. DON’T DO IT. I occasionally wonder if she and I hadn’t lived together then maybe we’d still be friends. I highly doubt it, but you never know.

My other two roommates from freshman year lived together sophomore year, and I believe they’re living together again junior year. I don’t talk to them all that often, but I like to think we didn’t end on the worst of terms. I received texts from them every once in awhile. They donated to my study abroad trip. But I rarely saw them on campus. I wasn’t going out of my way to avoid them; we just didn’t cross paths. I saw one of them during winter finals week at the library for the first time and the other for the first time during spring finals week at Steak and Shake.

The dynamic on my floor from my freshman year was weird. The girls really didn’t hang out a lot and the guys were mostly honors students. Since moving out my freshman year, I went to lunch once with one of the girls who had dropped out. I went to a Chinese New Years party at two (well, three) of the girls’ apartments. My sorority had a mixer-ish watch party with ATO for the national championship game and many of the guys on the floor are in that frat. I’ve seen a couple people at the library and I run into a couple of the guys randomly some. But that’s really it.

I primarily hang out with the guys from my best friend’s floor. To be honest, outside of the people from the Kansan, OPhiA, Triangle (a fraternity my sorority does events with), JSAP and KU Babes, those are the only people I hang out with. And that doesn’t bother me at all. I found that I’ve enjoyed college more by curating who I hang out with. No sense in hanging out with people you don’t care to be with. Based on that, my sophomore year was way better than my freshman year from a social standpoint.

3. You’ll feel incredibly overwhelmed and want to quit. A lot.

I wanted to quit my job at the Kansan a hundred times. Not having a staff, having to solely rely on myself to get the job done really wore me down. My course load sucked. I thought about dropping out at least once before each test or project and every day in the week leading up to and week of finals week. My roommate from freshman year and I talked about dropping out a lot. She was in this horrifyingly difficult chemistry class. I was not, but seeing her so frustrated scared me too. Did I quit my job? No. And I haven’t dropped out. I actually have a relatively decent GPA for tanking my second semester due to illness.

What got me through it? My freshman year, I don’t really know. My sophomore year? I didn’t figure out what gave me peace until second semester: trivia night at Dempsey’s on Wednesday nights. Trivia night kept me sane. Are we good? Not really. We have decent outings every once in a while, but other than that, it’s just for fun and to blow off steam… and eat truffle fries. Grab a burger if I’m really hungry. Finding that thing, that stress reliever, that something to take my mind off everything was super beneficial. I felt that I did a lot better at my jobs, with my sorority, with my school work and with my relationships because I took a little time every week to relax and hang out with friends. If you’re busy all the time and leave no time to yourself, you never get time to unwind. That unwind time is some of the most important time you’ll have all week. You need it. Your sanity needs it.

4. Tell the people you care about that you care about them.

It seems relatively trivial that I include this, but it’s something that needs to be at the forefront of my mind. I go for weeks without picking up the phone and calling or even texting my dad. I haven’t talked to some of my high school friends since high school. And if you wait too long, you’re going to regret it. I know I do. One of my close friends from my freshman and sophomore years of high school committed suicide. I saw him at the mall just days before. We chatted for a few minutes. He seemed completely fine. A few days go by? I see post after post after post about him. It’s been four years since my sophomore year of high school. Three people who I ate lunch with every day are now six feet under, two to suicide and the other to a car accident. Since eighth grade, over eight people close to me have passed, including my paternal grandpa and maternal grandma. I’m very fortunate that I got to spend time with all of them and tell them how I felt before they passed away, but what if I didn’t? That thought resonates with me and it scares me.

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