We like to talk about total independence being the peak of a Total Frat Move around here. Peeing off a roof or getting your face knocked in by a bouncer twice your size just comes naturally. A man who drags himself up by tooth and nail is as romanticized to men as Ryan Gosling in a sweater is to the fairer sex. Anyone who has nailed a “friend zone” girl or worked his way into a campus job knows that the idea of doing it alone is all whimsy though. Movies and fan-fiction are literally a tangible product based in fantasy after all. How do we make that happen in reality, though? We check our egos at the door and we ask for help.
Remember being a pledge? Between all the shit jobs and ridiculous hazing there would come a time when an older brother would truly level with you. Things got awkward, difficult, or just downright scary at some point. As you sat there, an 18-year-old thrown into the deep end, that guy didn’t just give you a played out pep talk. He broke out the one phrase that has snapped people back to reality since the dawn of time: “Trust me.” Just like that, you went from quivering in your boots to being a man again. You knew that, come Hell or high water, another human being was really looking out for you. If anything was going to get you past the toilet scrubbing and raw egg chewing, it was that.
Pledging’s a pretty solid foundation for life. You’ll have to set yourself on the right path and put in the work. Things will rarely be handed to you. If you’re lucky enough that they are, then you’ll have to drop the necessary elbow grease to keep them afloat. Regardless, you’re going to need a network of people who you can turn to for a helping hand. They say that it’s not the grades you make but the hands you shake that make a person great, but what’s more important is knowing when to call back on that handshake. What’s the point of getting to know people without a willingness to let them be there for you? It’s like the whole family cooking a delicious pasta dinner and then dying because you tried to eat it all yourself. Stupid, painful, and downright selfish.
In my senior year part one, life took a nose dive. I’d been taking my brotherhood, grades, and generally good life as a sure thing for a while. A serious enjoyment for the fruit of the coca had turned into something much deeper and shit was quickly hitting the fan. I quit going to class, hanging out with people, and basically being human altogether. That summer, I got a letter from the university saying I didn’t need to bother showing back up next semester. I’ve joked about addiction, but that’s because I’ve experienced it firsthand. How did I go from getting kicked out of college to looking at a diploma in May and a second chance at life? It wasn’t a Rocky montage. It was the love and support of my family, brothers, and other people who knew I was worth more than the dead end I was headed for. Mostly, it was a willingness to seek help that saved me. It didn’t make me a pussy, it made me a person again.
Don’t get me wrong, the ability to take charge and head into battle is part of being a man. There won’t always be a safety net that’s ready to snatch you up when life goes sour. When there are people who are willing to go to bat for you though, roll with it. It could land you a great job, a killer story, or even break you out of ruining your entire life. The idea of brotherhood and family isn’t just something we pitch to starry eyed freshman. It’s an integral part of who we are and what we stand for. Don’t let experiencing a little bit of status break you away from how important that is..