By Caleb Williams
I’m a quitter. I’m a really great quitter. In fact I’m probably the best quitter I – or at least Albion – has ever seen. I’ve dropped out of at least three different campus organizations since I’ve been here. In the wake of the most recent one, I’ve been dubbed the endearing term of GDI. A “Poor, Unfortunate Independent,” I believe the term is.
As a counterpoint to Aayush Shrestha’s piece on Greek Life, I would like to open with inquiry: what is the issue with being an independent person? Am I truly that unforgivable because I can (and prefer) to live outside of yet another arbitrary set of rules that our academic and social systems just can’t get enough of? Does my lack of reliance on yet another structured piece of socialization exclude me from any quality of character?
Not to start off with a Spartan-style defensive maneuver already, because I don’t feel my view is polarized to Shrestha’s. Albion, I believe, has a very different type of Greek Life than any other school I have ever been to, and for certain individuals, there is nothing inherently wrong with the Greek Life structure, except for that whole formalization of friendship thing.
Quick question, what was the purest example of friendship you can remember? I immediately think to Calvin and Hobbes. What I don’t think of is that time that Hobbes forced Calvin through several months of indentured servitude and beer showers so he could earn a certificate proving his devotion to their buddyhood. They just kind of… did stuff. Remember how you used to do with your friends? How stuff just happened? When discussing the best memories anyone has with their closest friends, rarely do they involve intricate planning, blueprints of how their time together will be spent. It’s more instances of, “hey, where does that bridge go? Oh, crap, do we need passports?”
I know, these are callbacks to a time long since forgotten, a primitive era where we didn’t have our Macbook-shaped shields between ourselves and any social interaction. But focus with me. Maybe crack open the Wikipedia page about what life was like before Wikipedia.
Yes, there is the idea of brotherhood and sisterhood, and while I’m all for symbolism – even when it makes next to zero sense – do any of you have actual siblings? They kind of suck, right? If I were to make a familial comparison to any of my closest friends, it probably wouldn’t be to my brothers. I guarantee I’ve wanted to drive a cinderblock into the jaw of my best friends a lot less often than my biological brothers.
Contrary to the belief of everyone I knew in middle school, I have friends. I have really close friends. Friends whom I consider to be closer to me than my brothers – again, cinderblocks – and at no point did I think, “Hey guys, you know all this spontaneity and lack of mental anguish is alright, but you know what would really step up the game? Paper documents to make sure everyone knows we hang out. Maybe before we let anybody else hang out with us we should strip them naked, dip them in honey mustard and lock them in the basement with a pissed off wolverine.”
No. Friendship tends to work a little more like this: “Oh, dude, is that the Bionicle movie on your shelf?”
“Yeah! You have no concept of shame either?”
And then they tell explicit stories at one another’s wedding, or so I’ve been told.
Maybe I’m wrong. Maybe I just don’t get it, and you all do and the publication of this column just placed me on a fast track to a right-to-refuse list, typically reserved for vomit fountains and beer bandits. Anyone who disagrees, I’m glad. I’m glad you have your own opinion. I’m also glad you and I could probably still be friends because I don’t have any kind of stipulation forcing you to homogenize yourself for my company.
I’m a quitter. Not because I was incapable of joining these organizations that kindly extended their invitation, but because I don’t find much of myself in a group that brings ink and paper into something that four-year-olds can do without so much as a parent’s signature.