Back in college, I was the President of a fraternity.
I bring this up because recently I was informed that this brotherhood wasn’t a real fraternity (it was), and I am prone to take statements like that personally. I suppose it has to do with one of my sore points: I can’t stand having my life, my experiences and choices, being called “invalid”. I may be too sensitive, but I’m a writer – that’s kind of my deal. In the grand scheme, a statement like that about my fraternity is minuscule, even more so than the organization itself, which is mostly gone.
But the truth, my pride aside, is that I never thought of it as a fraternity anyway. It was a club, the prime goal of which was recruiting new members. Arguably, that was all we did during my time with them. Sure, we had some events and gatherings. The frat was focused on theater, so we found ways to showcase that, some traditional (showcases) and others more experimental (guerrilla Shakespeare, which is exactly what it sounds like). The experience felt like the Borg, one new member never enough, needing to spread our fold in the face of extinction, survival our only goal. It’s why I don’t really talk about it – sometimes, it felt less like a community and more like a pyramid scheme. One semester, we lost our only applicant before she was accepted, and I remember how we all reacted: endless conversations about the minutiae of how to make it more difficult to drop, and none at all about their reason for dropping, or why only one person had applied, or what the point of this frat even was.
Personally, I joined the frat because it gave me priority housing.
Yep, I went through the hassle of pledging and all the rest of it out of my anti-social desire to avoid having a roommate. There was also the added bonus of being able to choose a room next door to my girlfriend at the time (younger Josh couldn’t see how that could possibly backfire). The fraternity was a fun group, and many members were already my friends. But the whole thing felt like a hassle by the end, instead of an honor, which is a shame. I never got that sense of brotherhood that frats are famous for. It just never clicked.
So does that mean it wasn’t a real frat?
There’s this need for me to confirm that I did have a real brotherhood when even now, I have to admit to myself that the feeling was always absent for me. There were some great events and wonderful people I met through Kappa, and I do not regret my time with them. My brothers and sisters aren’t part of my active network, but there was a bond forged between me and the brothers and sisters in my pledge class that I still remember fondly, and I have kept some of those relationships going independent of my relationship with them through the frat. In the end, the group felt like an obligation when I wanted it to feel like family – but considering how annoying family obligations can sometimes be, maybe it was more like a family than I thought.
Fun fact: that person who told me my frat wasn’t a “real” frat? My actual, biological brother. Womp womp.