When we were young, our science teacher taught us about the Big Bang Theory: the concept that our universe came out of nothing; that from void and emptiness, life sprang forth. So wouldn't it be only logical for us to assume that our lives would follow that scientific theory?
Sorority rush. What an experience! I've gotta tell you. Last semester, I completely avoided this idea. This time, however, after meeting two sorority girls on the shuttle from the airport, with my New Year's resolution to give my college more of a chance, I decided to give it a try.
Come Friday, my friends Kathryn, Claire, Rachael and I, dressed up for the occasion of Rush as if were going to a party and walked to the Student Union. I walked into a room filled with eager girls hoping to fill the empty void in their lives with something that, in truth, would make this void even bigger.
You can't fill a hole with air, just like you can't surround yourself with superficially nice people that you think are your friends. Despite all this, I bucked up all that optimism in human nature that I had collected in sunny California over the winter holiday and decided to go through this exhausting process.
Upon arriving and paying the Rush fee of fifteen dollars, we were divided into groups. Each group was to attend "parties." They call them that for some reason. They are actually simply a whole bunch of girls in one room and each rush girl is paired with a girl from the sorority to speak with for fifteen minutes. As my friend Rachael put it, "a party is not a forced conversation."
Everywhere I looked, girls were meeting new people and going through the tedious game of repeatedly asking and answering questions like "where are you form?" and "what is your major?" As each day of the rush process went on, it was not hard to tell that the process was a competition. Not only did they tell us to be ourselves, but to confuse us even more, we knew, in the back of our minds, that they were constantly judging ever move we made and ever word we said. Of course, it's easy to be natural under such circumstances…
We had to stand in alphabetical order, and at the end of each day, we could rate our top choices and they would, in turn, rate us. There were many rules: no smoking, no taking anything from the "parties," no touching or hugging any girls you already knew, etc. In addition to that, the identities of our group leaders were a mystery to all of us because they were supposed to be impartial, yet each one would still constantly ask us which sorority we thought she was from. The sheer level of superficiality and pink knit sweaters with pearls was more than I could take, but my optimism prevailed.
I started noticing myself putting more makeup on every morning and actually putting together outfits very much in advance. Don't get me wrong, I love to dress up, but usually I'm the grab and go type. Grab the jeans on the floor, stay in the shirt I slept in and …well, go. I dress up when I need to impress someone…like a guy. Women? Never.
Slowly, without even realizing it, I began to fit into their mold. I didn't like myself this way, but I couldn't quit now. I had come this far. The process of elimination was brutal. We were always wondering who would get eliminated from their top choice sororities next. Regardless of what we were told, many people did not get bids. I honestly don't know why they call them "bids." Were we being auctioned off?
They are really just invitations, or as I like to call them, declarations of acceptance in to their large clique. Rachael dropped out on the second day. She was actually getting quite into it like we were, but she didn't get the sorority choices she preferred and realized that this really wasn't her scene. Smart girl.
I felt confident in the sororities that I liked, but I knew that I would not be there at the beginning of the third day (Sunday) because I had to go to swim practice. I reported this information to the girl in charge, also known among my friends as "the sorority Nazi." She is one of those people that irritate, not because they are always angry, but quite the opposite. The human form of Prozac on speed, she was always happy and always smiling, even if she was saying something utterly unpleasant. With a Botox-esque smile on her face, she told me that she would inform the sororities that I would not be there.
I had it all worked out. I even arranged to miss swim practice on Tuesday so that I could attend the "bid" night event and successfully join a sorority. On Sunday morning, I frantically prepared a semi-formal outfit for the Rush even and a lot of makeup so that I could change right after swim practice. At the end of practice, I diminished the smell of chlorine in my hair with Garnier Fructisse Hair Gel and dress up in formal black pants, a yellow tank top, a black suit jacket and a red necklace that my mother had bought me in Israel. After packing my swim bag, and getting ready as fast as I could, I walked down Commonwealth Avenue in heels. My feet were in pain, my chlorine smelling hair was camouflaged by an overabundant amount of hairspray, my entire body was exhausted from swimming, but I looked fabulous and I didn't want to miss any more of the Rush event.
Upon arriving at the student union, I couldn't find my group leader. I proceeded to wait for her return and to ask for my list of "parties to attend that day. After a considerable amount of time, one of the other leaders approached me, only to inform me that unfortunately, I had received no bids that day and that I should go home. I was voted off the island. I wouldn't become America's Next Top Model and I wouldn't become Donald Trump's Apprentice. If I was an ordinary girl, whose self esteem depended entirely on the opinions of others, then, at this very moment, I would cry hysterically, as I had seen so many other sorority rejects do in the student union bathroom. Instead, upon being asked if I had any questions, I calmly replied, "there really isn't anything to question here."
I realize now that our universe, you know…that one that emerged from the big bang, was telling me something I should have realized on my own. This was not for me.
I waited for Claire and Kathryn to come back from their "parties" to tell them that I would no longer be involved with Rush. Both of them were outraged and confused. After that, I finally took off my heels, put on a comfortable pair of sneakers and a pair of sunglasses and walked home with my head raised high. Halfway home, I stopped to take out my iPod so I could listen to music. I walked down Bay State Road, listening to my iPod and smiling. I am not sure why I was happy, but for some reason, I was not upset at all.
The truth is, our lives cannot even begin to compare to a cosmic explosion that happened billions of years ago. Despite what my culture and society professor has been trying to prove to us all week, life is no science. It tends to be a bit more random than that. Our universe may have begun from emptiness, but our lives certainly cannot.
Falling in love as first sight, as much as I hope to believe in that convenient theory, doesn't seem possible. Getting famous or finding your dream job rarely comes without a little work of effort on your part. And finally, making lifelong friends is not as easy as joining fanfares of girls trying to find people who they think are their friends.
Friendships, like relationships and careers, need a foundation; a common interest which isn't usually simply the need for a more vigorous social life. Friends are those that you cannot live without and are as important to you as your family. Friends are the ones tha
t can make you laugh over something as silly as an imaginary flight to Australia to kidnap dingos, an obsessive compulsive fascination with knowing the name of every actor in a movie, or even an obsession with white pants. Something can't come out of nothing–just like a house cannot be built without a solid foundation.