By Abby Opersteny
Varsity. The very sound of the word brings to mind images of bright lights, football uniforms and pom-poms. When I was in high school, I put blood, sweat and tears into my varsity dance and drill team. We wore our sparkly hats with pride, high-kicked our faces and sacrificed our own free time for the good of the team.
However, this idea of “for the good of the team” faded quickly after graduation. Once the varsity label had fallen off, I was a little fish in a very big pond, a pond that encouraged individual success and competitive instinct. I lost the feeling I had when we would achieve something great together. I had forgotten the swelling pride in my chest that appeared when my dearest friends, those who danced with me, achieved something great. This collective “we” had faded away.
It didn’t take long after high school graduation for me to come crashing down the ladder of self-centered drive. That summer, it seemed that there was no worth in my own actions, no deeper meaning in any personal victory. I longed for the feeling I had as part of drill team; with those girls pushing me toward a common goal much larger than myself. All of our actions had worth. Once I began school at Baylor, it was obvious that I needed to find a way to be a team player again. Though my pond was smaller, I was still a little fish in a brand new scene, superiors told me to register early and take summer classes and schmooze my professors because you never know who could land you an internship. It was exhausting. I needed that varsity feeling back once and for all.
I found the varsity feeling again in my sorority, Chi Omega. I instantly fell in love with the way my sorority worked toward excellence and sacrificed their own needs for those of the group: it was like drill team, but better. The women of Chi Omega knew what it meant to be a team player. It meant serving others at all times, competing with heart, absent of personal gain or privilege and it meant representing the group with poise and grace. None of these women were with me to climb the ladder.
College steadily became a place much like high school in the sense that I was secure in where I belonged. As a growing and maturing woman, I was able to place priority on the women around me, and my sorority encouraged that.
Without Chi Omega, college would have felt like a speed-timed relay, a blind and cutthroat race to the finish. For many, the years we spend in our early twenties feel this way. But as young adults, it is our responsibility to invest and engage in some type of community. By practicing servitude and integrity at this developmental age, we are able to mold and shape ourselves to be leaders and advocates in the workforce.
Whether in college, a first job or in a neighborhood, it is crucial to find something larger than yourself to be proud of. Join a club. Play a sport. Invest in the area you live in. Be a mentor to local children or a helping hand for the elderly. By finding a deeper meaning in these fleeting and often flippant years of youth, we are able to let go of the small personal trophies in exchange for the large, earned and shared trophies of organizations. With our ponds small and our purposes found, us twenty-somethings really do have something to be proud of.