Pledging goes by many names. The best time you never want to have again. The semester that took years off of your life. The 11 weeks that transformed you from a law-abiding citizen into a morally bankrupt felon. Regardless of what you call it, pledgeship imbues new members with knowledge and life skills that apply long after your 4 (or 5 or 6) years on campus are over. I’ve already talked a little bit about my time as a pledge on here, and, in addition to my pledge period, I’ve also had the pleasure of helping train several other pledge classes. Through these experiences, I’ve noticed that over the course of the pledge process, all of the pledges (the ones that make it, at least) have learned the 5 following universal truths.
1. Life isn’t fair
This one sounds like a cliché, but there’s no better way to learn it than by staring up at a brother drinking an ice-cold Corona while you do bows and toes on the bottle caps of his empties. There’s no denying that one of America’s biggest flaws today is that too many people feel a sense of entitlement for what they “deserve” rather than a sincere desire to work towards a goal. Pledging demonstrates that nothing, not even a brief respite from the Spongebob Squarepants theme song that has been playing on loop for the past 3 hours, is given.
2. Complaining gets you nowhere
Every pledge class has that guy. Maybe he was coddled by his country club lifestyle or maybe he genuinely thought he was the first person to go through such a taxing pledge education, but either way this pledge brother never fails to miss an opportunity to bitch about how hard he has it. In my experience, this pledge is always the one who is fucked with the most and is by far the most likely to drop or be dropped, because, quite frankly, no one likes a whiny little bitch. Pledging forces you to fight a losing battle with a quiet dignity, and there is no better way to gain the respect of those around than by doing just that.
3. Time management is of the utmost importance
You get back from a long day of almost paying attention in class and all you want to do is drink a beer and watch some Netflix. Not so fast. You have a paper due in three days and you know that tomorrow is a lineup, meaning that for the rest of the night tomorrow, the best you can hope for is getting to bed before the sun rises with at least a shred of your dignity. Guess that means you have to turn off that episode of Trailer Park Boys and get to work. The people that are the most successful in life are the ones that realize they have to put what needs to be done ahead of what they want to do, a concept the pledge process continuously reinforces.
4. There are times to lie and times to tell the truth
As a kid, I was always taught that honesty was the best policy. And, like a sucker, I bought the speech hook, line, and sinker. In reality, it is much more complicated than that. While I still tend to lean towards honesty, pledging showed me that there are times when you are faced with impossible situations, and the only way to get out of those are to break the rules and double down on the lie that you did nothing wrong (looking at you, OJ). Through countless instances of dumping out vodka while leaning over the trash can pretending to puke or photoshopping scavenger hunt items to include absent pledge brothers, you began to learn what you are comfortable lying about and where your line is; a skill very useful in a professional world where it is often better to work smart than to work hard.
5. No matter how talented you are, you can’t do it alone
After a semester of running dip to each of the 80 brothers on campus and satisfying the increasingly nonsensical whims of the most outlandish actives (I was chased across campus in a crocodile outfit to allow an Australian brother to fulfill his lifelong dream of being Steve Irwin), even the most dedicated of PCPs would begin to crack. Fortunately, no matter how it may feel, you are not alone, but rather have a dedicated group of pledge brothers watching your 6. Just like Jordan needed Pippin and Harold needed Kumar, you need your pledge brothers to survive this ordeal. No great accomplishment in human history has been completed singlehandedly, and, in the real world, asking for help when you are in over your head is not seen as a sign of weakness, but instead as one of maturity..