By Allie Harbuck
When I first arrived at Harding back in 2015, I had a lot of questions. Why was going to 8 a.m. class suddenly so difficult? How did I get to the Reynolds building, and why was it so far from literally everything? What on earth was a Spring Sing? But most importantly, who were all of these people with Greek letters on their shirts?
It didn’t take me very long to learn that these “social clubs” were a key part of life at Harding. Though recruiters and students alike had thrown around phrases like, “over half of our students aren’t involved in social clubs,” I was less than convinced. It seemed like everyone I met was either in a social club or looking to join one.
So, I ran full-speed ahead into mixers, open houses and constant socialization for the first few weeks of school. Then came the moment of destiny: third-round invitations. Long story short, I didn’t receive an invitation from the clubs I was looking to join. I’d become pretty invested in the idea, and it now seemed impossible to imagine my future without those jerseys.
Club week wasn’t easy for me that year. While I didn’t have to cope with the constant exhaustion and lost voices that my friends suffered, I did have to square up against one of my personal fears: being left out of something.
Since the initial shock of my first club week, I’ve dealt with my subsequent club-less club weeks in two ways: the first was withdrawing completely and pretending it wasn’t happening. The second was participating in as many of the festivities as I could. It’s probably no surprise that the second option was way more fun.
My sophomore year, most of my club week was spent in my dorm room, watching Netflix and being angry that I wasn’t included. Unfortunately, this was pretty representative of my attitude about clubs in general at that time in my life. I had been hurt by clubs, so I was quick to find fault in the whole system.
But by junior year, I’d toned down my crusade against clubs, and decided to actually enjoy club week. I was able to join in every chant at all-club, bring my friends coffee when they needed it and enjoy a week largely free from homework. Instead of spending my free time focusing on what I was left out of, I spent some much-needed time with friends who also weren’t involved in clubs, appreciating the things I was able to be a part of.
For people like me, it can be hard to figure out where we fit in the grand scheme of Greek letters. It’s hard to hear your friends turn down weekend plans in favor of functions you weren’t invited to. It’s disappointing to imagine that you might not have an opportunity to dress up in formal wear and take pictures on the Front Lawn. I found that for me, not being in a club allowed me to meet a lot of interesting people all over campus. I ended up really loving not being in a club. But by participating in club events and getting to know people in clubs, I’ve also learned to see the benefits that everyone talks about. It actually is a great way to meet people and can be a valuable support system.
But for people who are in clubs, I encourage you to notice the things that aren’t perfect and to do what you can to build bridges between our two worlds. If there’s a way to be there for all those people crying in the student center when they don’t get a bid; if there’s an opportunity to invite someone who doesn’t have a club of their own to an event, take the time to consider the world from our perspective.
While a club-less club week probably seems easy, breezy and beautiful, it presents a different set of challenges. The feeling of being left out — of not belonging — can be a deep blow to your personal identity and even your emotional stability. It can make you feel unwanted. So, this year, let’s take this week to find little ways of reminding each and every person that they are treasured. When this random week in October is over, the only thing that will really matter is that we showed every person Christ’s love, regardless of what they wear on Fridays.