I remember a conversation I had with my sister when I first took up sailing, in which I told her that I loved every aspect of it except the being alone in a boat part - I wished back then that it was more social, that I’d be able to talk to someone while sailing. Amused, she replied that that was precisely what she liked about the sport - being able to stay on her own and not have to talk to anyone while in the boat.
Fast-forward a decade, and I find myself in the rather odd position of having gone from being quite the extrovert to being very much an introvert. As my housemate asked me rather bluntly, “Why did you join a fraternity?”
And not just one, either. PGN is the second fraternity I’ve joined. I found APO a little too big and impersonal, and found that I wasn’t really forging meaningful relationships in it. And so I sought out a smaller group, and since PGN offered the professional development aspect of a business fraternity as well, I thought it’d be perfect.
So this is the group of people I’ve mentioned a few times over the course of the semester. From left to right: Kevin, Ray, me, Fernando and Mengshu (our Pledge Masters), Winnie, Jenny, Connie and Eyob - the Upsilon Pledge Class of Phi Gamma Nu. I attended formal yesterday because I felt obliged to, having only just become part of the brotherhood.
Julian asked me at one point if that was my hidden introvert coming out, because he noticed me standing off to one side and not joining in the dancing. Laughing, I told him that it was my not-so-hidden introvert; that was just who I am. He was lovely about it, and didn’t try to get me to join in the dancing. As I’d told someone earlier, I don’t dance, and I certainly wasn’t drunk enough to pretend that I did.
In retrospect, this semester has flown by, although the pledging process felt excruciating long while it was going on. It took up so much time that I have barely any non-pledging memories. The best memories that I have probably involve going on a long cycle and either just enjoying the sights or listening to an audiobook and being transported into a fictional world. It’s a good thing I took up cycling this semester - I feel like that helped to preserve my sanity.
I don’t even know when I became so completely and utterly introverted - it astounds me looking back that I made it through a year on a boat with near-strangers without at some point crawling into my bunk and hiding from the world. Perhaps it was different because we weren’t doing pointless tasks on the boat, or perhaps I just really get along better with older people.
Or perhaps I’m still trying to figure out where I belong here at Penn. It’s certainly taking a while, but then again it is a huge school and one doesn’t just fall into friendships naturally by virtue of being classmates and seeing the same people five days a week. Friendship actually takes effort now, and to be perfectly honest, I haven’t been making the effort. If anything, I shy away from anything that sounds like a commitment (weekly dinners? The horror!). It’s amazing that I’m in a relationship, really.
Oh, I just need to get away from this environment for a bit and think about this. Nine days until I meet my sister in London, and then only a couple more until I see Sam. Winter break’s going to be perfect with two of my absolute favourite people.