SYDNEY: Why the Rush?

Self Absorbed
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Photo by Annelisa Leinbach.

As a child, I excelled at wanting what I couldn’t have. Painted nails and pierced ears had to wait until 12. Ponies were out of the question for a number of reasons, among them my anaphylactic response to their presence. A bay window (I had an obsession with reading nooks) never came to pass. Most of all, however, I wanted an older sister, despite the chronological impossibility of this desire. At the end of the day, younger brothers don’t make you cool. I felt cheated by the sibling hand I’d been dealt.

SydneyCOne could imagine that pledging Kappa/Pi Phi/Theta would be the easy way to fill this void. I would get the big I’d always yearned for — she, and therefore we, and therefore I, would be the epitome of cool. Nonetheless, when rush came around last year, I decided to opt out, and this year I haven’t changed my mind. Still, sometimes I’m struck by the irrational desire that first-born status has deprived me of critical lifelong bonds. I’ve developed a number of strategies for remedying this dilemma. Going for froyo alone and waiting to see who shows up is not one of them.

Sororities exist under the premise that friends come in groups, but that’s not what experience has taught me. A sister without a sisterhood is still a sister. I’ve tried to commit to cultivating stand-alone relationships through regular meals (yes, meals) or workout sessions as an alternative to chapter meetings. Friends don’t have to be like an outfit for formal — people don’t have to match. By focusing on individuals, sisters have emerged.

In these friendships, I base sisterhood around shared interests rather than integration into an existing group. For me, cooking is a happy medium: It’s an independent activity that smoothly converts into a group one. If you hope for success in friendship to correlate with success in business, perhaps consider opening a room service franchise. Coming off of its inaugural weekend, the ladies of JE Room Service have their sights set on a multi-college brand.

I don’t know the details on these partnerships, but I imagine that it would entail hours amidst the sweet smells of warming cinnamon buns and savory scones. In other words: my high school social life. Let me tell you, it was great and wonderfully sisterly. This setup is like a sorority in that one would presumably pay dues to room service headquarters, but is not like a sorority in that one is then paid in money rather than in neon crop-tops.

If “The Baby-Sitters Club” tells the truth, big sisters are supposed to teach you about makeup and dating. Enter “The Vagina Monologues” as an apt substitution for this relationship. Eve Ensler’s Valentine’s Day tradition, which explores issues of female identity and sexuality, is tragically absent from this year’s Dramat calendar. I am certain that there is an enterprising sorority-girl-to-be who would rather spend her time rectifying this omission than girl-flirting through rush events. If discussing these important issues don’t form the bonds of sisterhood, I don’t know what will.

At the end of the day, it’s Yale’s housing system that has placed the opportunity for individual, sisterly relationships literally at my doorstep. My suitemates stand beside me when I brush my teeth, they crawl into bed with me when I’m in tears in the middle of the night, they lend me stuffed animals to accessorize Halloween costumes and ensure that our coffee table is always stocked with something sweet and lovingly stress-baked. Perhaps as with real-life siblings, I don’t spend enough time with them. I assume that by default I have enough time in the day for these five girls because I’m living with them, but that’s not enough. We’re working on more dinners together, “Girls” marathons and suite Woads. We have Screw this weekend, so that’s like a formal, right? I’m trying not to make an event of finding sisterhood at Yale, and in Silliman I11, I think it’s working. If I try really hard, I can convince myself that this is what it feels like to be a middle child.

Caroline Sydney is a sophomore in Silliman College. Contact her at caroline.sydney@yale.edu.

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