Warning: this is really singularly applicable to the Christian University social club experience. If you don’t know what a social club is, this may not mean a whole lot to you.
This is also significantly girl-biased.
Also, if this offends you, that’s really not my goal here. Feel free to tell me why I’m wrong in the comments. But, you know, with respect.
An open letter to the the clubbers, the new pledges and mostly the ones who didn’t get in:
Tonight, as you all know, is the beginning of the pledging season. And I’m gonna tell you something that I couldn’t have said honestly on this night three years ago: I’m thankful that I didn’t get into club.
It’s still kind of hard for me to say it honestly now. I’ve experienced a good bit of social rejection, some it deserved. Some of it not. But for a lot of stupid reasons mostly having to do with who I wanted to become in college (and also a silly promise I made to a cousin in the aisle of Michael’s when I was 14), that was one of the hardest.
Now, I could write this letter to you the easy way. It would sound all bitter angry. It would come from a place of hurt and rejection. Mostly, it would come across as whiny and self-righteous. At the end, I would be mad and 2/3 of the intended audience would be offended and no one would want to read it.
Because we all have our own stuff to be angry and bitter about. And none of us benefit by indulging the murky, victimizing corners of our own mind. Because that place is lonely, and populated largely by Fox News contributors.
It beckons to you when you’re wounded, promising to ease the pain, but bringing infection instead. It defines everyone else in terms of their offenses against you. It prevents you from recognizing the validity of other people’s choices. It feeds on division and pride.
So I’m going to try not to go there. But it’s a tempting place, you know? It promises vindication. It’s that snide little voice that tells you how right you are, always. And let’s be honest, I think most of us enjoy being right.
So if you hear me backing up into my corner, if you see my eyebrows narrowing and my gaze grow steely, feel free to stop me, disagree with me, remind me that my point is not the only valid one. I’d appreciate it.
But I’ll be honest with you, this thing, this process of impressing and voting and selecting, I don’t like it, especially when it presents itself behind the veil of Christian friendship. Mostly, because I think it’s inherently divisive, and kind of self-serving. And that is pretty much the last thing Jesus asked us to be.
But that’s my opinion, as someone that really wanted to be in, and wasn’t.
I know I won’t convince many people. I’m not trying to. I know that for those of you who were/are in a social club, it’s full of happy memories, it’s comprised of so many people you love. You don’t understand what people are so upset about. “That’s the way the world works. Some people get picked, and some people don’t. Don’t make me feel bad that I got something good.”
It’s kind of the mantra of wealth in this country. Some people are born with the family connections or skills that enable them to become enormously wealthy. Some people are born into poverty and broken families, and they end up poor. That’s not the rich person’s fault. That doesn’t mean they don’t deserve to enjoy their money.
No, it’s not. And it doesn’t. It isn’t the fault of wealthy people that the poor starve. But that doesn’t make the system fair, or good.
Now, obviously, poverty is much more dire and unjust than peer rejection. But that doesn’t change the fact that a system is in place which inherently creates a group of people who are accepted, and a group of people who are not.
I know many, many people disagree with me about this. And several of those people are my friends and family members. But for those of you in club, (if any of you have actually read this through and don’t hate me yet), I know that those of you in club are going to stay there. I might too, if I’m really honest with myself. Who doesn’t like friends and singing competitions?
But please tomorrow, can you remember that there are other people in class with you who aren’t excited about pledging? A few of them really wanted to get in, they really wanted to feel like finally, here with other Christians, maybe I’ll be accepted, too. And they got the message, once again, that they weren’t good enough.
I’m not asking you not to pledge. I’m not asking you not to be excited. I’m asking you to see them. To acknowledge that this thing you’re about to take part in, the costumes and the screaming and the notebooks, this thing that makes you feel loved and blessed and accepted, it might be making someone else feel very alone.
And maybe remember that in the eyes of this God we all claim to serve, you are not better than them because you were chosen, and they are not better than you because they weren’t, and I am not better than you because I think what you’re doing is wrong. At the end of the day, don’t forget the big picture: that the bringing about the kingdom of God has nothing to do with social clubs.
But for those of you who didn’t find what you wanted when you opened that envelope tonight, who feel really stupid for trying, it is not the end of the world. Seriously.
I know rejection sucks, but for the rest of your life there will be people who don’t want to be friends with you, just like there will be people who don’t want to kiss you or hire you. You have to figure out how to be okay with that or you will make yourself miserable. You have to decide that you’re worth more than what those 100 girls or boys think of you.
Go make other friends. Go to church. Study. Lead a spring break campaign. Start dating that tall guy who sits on the couch with you tonight and eats Chinese food while you cry about something that ultimately, seriously does. not. matter.
This can be a good thing. You have time. You get to wear whatever you want. And you don’t have to sit around and vote on next year’s candidates for social acceptance. That can be a blessing. Maybe someday you’ll even be grateful for it, for all the other things you got to experience. And maybe through this you’ll realize that trying to convince a room full of strangers to like you, is really uncomfortable for you. And that’s okay. Maybe you’ll even dedicate a Thankful Thursday blog post to it.
At the end of the day, this life that you have, it’s yours. And you will have to decide what to do with it: to honor God or not, to love generously or not, to embrace what you’ve been given or not. And that can be beautiful, whether you’re in a social club or not.
Sincerely and with love,
On a totally unrelated note, look what I got today!!