Family. One word. So simple. In college, and, more importantly, in Greek life (because, let’s be real, that IS college) family means the select people you share your letters with or invite to join your line. It’s the girl you dirty rushed and obsessively stalked on social media until you had to pick a little. Some other bitch ended up getting her, so you went with your second choice, but, like, it’s totally fine. I guess.
It’s the scared underclassman who reassured you that the guy you thought was your boyfriend was a total asshole for making out with your pledge sister, and you eventually drunkenly asked him to be your little while at happy hour, as you multitasked by hitting on his brothers.
All of these people, through random connections, drunken heart-to-hearts, and the “not quite a democracy” process of big-little pairings, are your “family” for the next four years of college. If you really hit it off, some of them could be your “family” in the big, bad future, too.
But hold on for one quick sec. What about the people who held your hand when you were scared before your first day of school? Or the person who would read the same bedtime story to you every single night? How about the people you went on family vacations with, made fun of the crazy, cat-lady aunt with, or who stood by your side (and picked you up early from school because you “literally couldn’t even”) when that first boy broke your heart?
Where do these family members fit into your college experience? As I reflect on those four fantastic years full of boys, booze, bars, and pretty much everything that is forbidden during dry periods, I can’t really recall making time for my “actual” family–suck it up, your Greek family isn’t your real family. I can, however, recall ditching family events for formals, socials, and Homecoming games.
Looking back, do I regret it? Eh, hard to say. College really did give me the best memories I’ll never remember with the friends I’ll never forget. But did it give me quality time with my grandfather who recently passed? Or how about special trips with my family, where we all bitch the entire time about having to pee and then proceed to get extremely drunk and be “that” embarrassing group of people at a classy establishment? No. I didn’t really get much of that. I didn’t want it. I pitched a fit when I had to miss an event to celebrate a birthday or an anniversary of my (wiser, kinder and far less selfish) family members. Basically, I was a complete bitch.
I was so wrong. Funny how we don’t know what we want until it’s gone, huh?
So, while college is the time to be a little selfish, take that extra shot, and date your way down Greek row, consider spending some time with your birth family while you’re there, too. Despite what you think, they’re getting older. Looking back, making time for everyone and working as hard to build relationships with my real family instead of just my Greek one would have made me happier and feel more fulfilled. Not only can you learn a thing or two about the people who have already had to do all the shit you think you’re alone in (hello breakups and job searches) but hey, you might get more money at graduation.