Yalies are notoriously concerned about getting into stuff. Whether it’s the extracurricular climbers you spot freshman year or the shopping period rush to get into that seminar you absolutely have to take, Yalies crave acceptance.
Of course, for many upperclassmen, the one thing on their mind is society. I’m in a society. I went through the same process that many juniors are going through, and I came up with some delicious little pointers for those being considered or shunned by a senior society.
First, you’re going to tie society to your own self-worth, even if you don’t think you will. A small part of you will feel awesome if you get into Skull and Bones, and as much as you might try to deny it, you’ll feel like crap if you don’t get any invites. So, when you inevitably start thinking in these terms, go soak your head, let go of your ego and remember that society is mainly about chilling with a group of people every week. That’s all you actually do.
Second, people outside of Yale barely know what a senior society is — at best, they’ll know about it as a joke, or something that George Bush was involved with. Don’t do society for personal validation, because it will disappear once you leave Yale. Instead, I’d recommend meditating. And trying to forget about the fact that all society members get a free puppy on graduation day.
Third, society isn’t how you cultivate deep relationships with people. Yes, you meet a group of people and hopefully become close friends. But to get really close to somebody, you need a one-on-one interaction, which happens in society only if you decide to hang out with somebody outside of the normal group meetings. You don’t need to get into society to make friends. If close, varied and lifelong friends are what you want, you should spend less time worrying about society and the lifetime supply of Cap ’n’ Crunch that comes with it. Whether you’re in a society or not, think about pursuing deep relationships.
Fourth, lose the idea that you need be deeply involved with a certain group of people. Yale can be cliquish; everyone here is in a group, and it can feel daunting if you are not. But we’ve gotten to the point where people here make groups so that they can be in groups. Stop worrying about it; otherwise there will be more groups than people to fill them. I’m worried about the day when our groups start forming their own groups and we get into a whole mess of meta.
Finally, the secrecy of society is above all for keeping sensitive personal information safe within a trusted group. However, during tap period, that same secrecy ends up creating a bunch of unintended hype that hurts to a lot of people. It makes juniors speculate and distracts from the real reasons why society can be a wonderful experience.
Remember shopping period, when you fought for the classes that you just had to get into? You’re probably putting off reading for those same classes right now. Once the thrill of getting in dies down, you can actually see something for what it really is. It’s the same for society. However, taking a shower in champagne every Thursday really is all that I thought it would be.
Will Moritz is a senior in Trumbull College. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.