I never had to feel the rejection of recruitment. No sorority that I really liked did not like me in return, and I was not only proud when I found that out, but I was proud even before that too. Proud of how well I would adjust if worse ever came to worst, which it never did and never would. So this semester I’ve dealt with semi-grown-up rejection for the first time: turned down for a competitive summer camp position that I’m still not entirely sure I wanted, not hired at the indie bookstore where I’m currently sitting and drinking iced coffee and listening to Bob Dylan over the loudspeakers and writing, not selected to give tours of my campus, and now even denied by my first potential fratdaddy counterpart. And in face of rejection, I’ve tried different methods of undermining it. The best method so far is just talking myself through it. Out loud.
Mary Marge, you’re so smart and adjusted and well-rounded in some ways and completely flat in others, but you know, you can’t always be given exactly what it is that you want. Social climates giveth, and social climates taketh away. You got your good sorority and your good grades and your mostly-intact reputation, but now you’ve been rejected by more things than you ever even thought about attempting.
You feel stupid as shit for caring what the sororities ever thought of you. Was rush really as hard as we thought? you wonder. Now that you’re established and okay with just about everything there is to be okay with in college, you start to rely on the presence and the friendship of your sisters as something besides just a sorority. More than half of them you don’t know much about, save names and hometowns and levels of sluttiness on a scale of 1-10, but there are plenty who you now know and have begun even to truly care about. But then there are other things to consider in the collegiate realm, especially now in the pit of your rejection.
Then you feel stupid as shit for ever inviting a pre-med frat star up to your room, or for thinking something as straightforward as that had any potential gravity to it. So your sisters and your schoolbooks and everything else but one thing are what you’re left with, and you have to assume that this is a-okay, because it is. You don’t want or need any kind of undeserved emotions to make you feel even stupider, so you let that go and demean yourself into the second person point of view because you don’t like to admit to being yourself in this context. In this context, you choose to handle these rejections by slipping into the cloak of being a Sorority H member, not Mary Marge or me or I.
So I start to identify with Sorority H, real talk. I didn’t realize until very recently that my best friends are all in my sorority, each of them a sibling of some apparent meaning, and that I’m lucky to have entered this group and found these girls. I can’t seem to remember how or when I met my sorority friends, except that it was probably pretty meaningful. I get to the point where I am used to sitting alone, and I am successful in this sitting, I’m comfortable in it. Things change. I don’t rely on the friend that I came to college with. I don’t make phone calls to check and see who will be where before I make the venture. I don’t hide from small talk, I just smile and stop replying. I make this life more “me” than it has ever been. I start to make sense to my sisters.
I can make a list of my best friends here in Oxford, people who let me be when I’m quiet and who laugh with me when I’m not. My friend since kindergarten who came with me from home, my artsy roommate, my mentor the senior, my sorority Big Sis, my gorgeous friend who goes to indie concerts on the Square with me, and my wild roommate for next year. They are all in Sorority H. I can’t remember if this is circumstantial or not, because I’m not good at remembering how or why or when I met them all, except the one from kindergarten and the one who rushed me into this sorority.
But besides those six, the female friends I’ve made at Ole Miss are entirely different from those I’ve ever made elsewhere. For starters, their names are as southern and honorary and familial as possible—Kyle, Ryan, Clayton, Wilson, Willie, Cosby, even a girl in one of my classes named Kevin. Maybe not familial, maybe just masculine when it comes down to it. But I like this for some reason, really think it’s great, some other outward aspect of the strange little community of Oxford and its superior sense of uniqueness. Also, they embody so many of Ole Miss’s stereotypes on the large scale; but when you zoom in on the individual, especially those I’ve become friends with, this doesn’t really seem to be the case. I mean, I can’t really stereotype sorostitutes anymore, because I am one and I sure don’t embody all the ideals with which our kind is associated: the tanning-bed frequenting, the obsession with brand names, the eternal prowl toward an MRS degree.
Sisters, friends—which title is more important? Not all of my sisters are my friends, but those who are, are meaningfully. It’s been a weird time realizing this, but a good time nonetheless; because if college isn’t the best time of my life, what will be? (Something will be better than this.) My heart gets kicked because I didn’t get picked by whatever it was to which I let myself be an option. My sisters hang around the idea that I need some kind of comfort or something, and maybe at some point I do—maybe just as friends though, not family.
You shift. You quit telling stories and you start talking about feelings and purpose and stuff. Your anecdotes are quick and your explanations are massive, meaningful, and never quite right. It takes the whole of your sorority, the sum of its different, tan, and brand-name parts, for the idea of belonging to mean something. You have friends. And sisters. And most of these here overlap. So at the end of the day, Mary Marge, when you’re rejected, it doesn’t really feel that way.