I have a lot of regrets about high school and college, but even though I constantly think about what I could have done differently and how much better my life might be, I genuinely believe that I wouldn’t be the person I am today if things had gone any other way. And I’m not saying that to make myself feel better or like some monologue at the end of a rom com — I genuinely mean it.
If I hadn’t gone to my small, boring D3 liberal arts school I don’t think I would’ve ever had a professor like the one who taught my Conspiracy in American Politics class — a class I took completely on a whim.
The way this professor taught challenged me in a way that I never had been. He didn’t just tell you what you were supposed to think or make generalized statements and assume you’d either agree or shut up. He encouraged and welcomed debate. He would question his students in a way that made them question themselves and everything they thought they knew.
And sure, some students were too stupid and full of themselves to even entertain the possibility of being wrong, but if you were open to new information and actually wanted to learn something, his teaching opened your mind like no one else’s.
His class wasn’t solely responsible for my political transformation, but if I had never taken his class I don’t know if my views would have ever changed — and I don’t know if I would’ve pursued a career in politics that brought me right outside of DC. I might actually own a pussy hat if it wasn’t for him, and if I hadn’t gone to my small, boring, D3 liberal arts school.
So while I don’t REALLY regret anything, I can’t help but wonder what my life would’ve been like if I had actually tried in high school, or transferred to a bigger school after my freshman year of college like I wanted to.
It should come as no surprise to anyone that’s gone to college that there’s a great deal of overlap in the stereotypical fraternity brother/sorority sister and the quintessential young politico in DC. They both skew towards privileged alcoholic over achievers — or under achievers that know the right people TBH. So I’ve been in quite a few conversations where I was asked what sorority I was in and had to sheepishly explain that my school didn’t have Greek Life.
I never really got over not being able to participate in Greek Life. It was something I was extremely passionate about, and after not being able to transfer to a big southern school I dedicated 3 years of my life trying to implement it on my campus. I know I shouldn’t care about it, but I do. And even 3 years after graduating, it still stings when people assume you were a part of something that you wanted so badly and worked so hard for, but you weren’t.
If I’m being completely honest with myself, as much as I believed in Greek Life and what it did for young men and women, a part of me definitely saw it as some sort of validation. It was like a certification badge for everything I wanted to be. And of course I shouldn’t be seeking validation or place so much emphasis on a college extracurricular, but to varying extents I think we all are trying to prove to ourselves that we’re who we want to be. And as superficial as it sounds, to me, being in a sorority reinforced everything I wanted to believe about myself.
I assumed that this (pathetic though persistent) insecurity was something I just had to live with. It was something that just never worked out for me, and that was that. But then I learned about a social club that was for lack of a better term, an adult sorority. They even had events with another male social club and called their vetting/application process “recruitment.”
I went to the first recruitment event not really knowing what to expect. I went to the top floor of a popular U Street bar where the event was being held, and was immediately overwhelmed. I was surrounded by beautiful, immaculately dressed professional women and honestly thought about leaving after 10 minutes or so because I was SO out of my element. I didn’t know a soul there, and let’s be honest: networking and socializing by yourself is a lot easier when you have the crutch of being able to talk to men you aren’t attracted to than in a room full of girls your age that look like slight variations of the Gossip Girl cast.
But I put aside my anxiety and surging feelings of inadequacy, and I stayed. And I went to 2 more events, and got my recommendation letters, and submitted my application. And I got in. And I’m really excited to see what the next year of my life has in store.
The point of sharing this wasn’t to broadcast my (admittedly immature) fixation on something I wasn’t able to do in college, but that it’s never too late to create the life you want. Obviously, the earlier you pursue whatever it is that you want to be or you want to do, the better. But just because you missed out on certain opportunities doesn’t mean you can’t pursue them now, or that you won’t have another chance to live the life you wanted for yourself. It’s easy to tell yourself that your “ship has sailed” and that there’s no point in changing career paths, or writing a book, or starting a business, or even joining a sorority — but it’s really just a pass we write ourselves to remain comfortable and mediocre. Stop grieving the person you think you could have been if you did things differently, and go be that person now.