One of my most deeply rooted fears is that one day, my friends will realize that I’m honestly not that great. I’m afraid they’ll finally see I’m not as funny as I pretend to be and that I’m not even that enjoyable to be around. I get sick with the thought that someone may decide I don’t add enough value to be worth the trouble.
These are irrational worries, I know. I’m usually confident in the constant love shown to me by so many wonderful people in my life. I know I don’t have to earn the right to be loved by them.
And yet, the fear persists in moments of weakness, making me doubt relationships and friends I have no reason to ever question. I’m also afraid of rejection. I’m afraid of not being good enough. I’m afraid of letting people down.
I think we all are, to some degree. These potential situations are, at the very least, uncomfortable and oftentimes downright paralyzing. None of us wants to feel like we’re unworthy, and we would never want to make anyone else want to feel that way, either.
Except during Club Week.
After weeks of welcoming potential new members to our open houses and mixers with love and acceptance, we invite some to be official members. Then, just like that, we drop our smiles for stern faces and replace our warm demeanors with cold shoulders.
Some people think through their decision to act this way. I can respect that, in a way. I understand the pull of tradition and the rationalization that a group may become closer through shared hardships. I don’t necessarily agree — but I can see the logic.
However, I’m concerned by some of the comments I have overheard throughout this Club Week. I’ve heard things like, “I try to avoid the new members so I don’t have to be mean to them” and “I’m too nice — I need to be more intimidating.”
When questioned about a less-than-kind tradition, someone even responded with, “I don’t like being mean, but it’s just what we do.”
Do you see why this may be concerning?
During Club Week, we forget how to think for ourselves. We get caught up in the chants, the face paint and the traditions. As old members, we do what’s expected of us, even if it’s unnatural or uncomfortable. It’s just what everyone does, so we go along with the set precedent.
There’s a term in group communication known as “groupthink.” In a nutshell, it describes a situation in which members of a group stop thinking critically about decisions and fall into a sort of mob mentality.
A group who falls into the trap of groupthink is not functioning properly.
We don’t all have to be separate entities, nor do we have to drift along numbly with previous expectations. The perfect group is one comprised of individuals who work in unity through thinking for themselves. (Insert “social club,” “team” and even “church.”)
Social clubs have every chance to be exactly that: Individuals in a community. Honestly, I think they function this way pretty well most of the time. That’s why Club Week stands in such stark contrast — we stop thinking for ourselves and start following the crowd, whatever crazy colors it may be decked out in.
Part of me doesn’t want to use my column space for this. It’s the end of 2019’s Club Week, meaning most of these ramblings are null and void until next year. I also have a sneaking suspicion that my 600 weekly words aren’t going to change anyone’s thoughts toward Club Week groupthink.
I think it’s important, however, to follow through on the convictions we have, so here I am. The next time you find yourself falling into groupthink, try to shake it off. Stage your own individual rebellion just by being yourself, with your own convictions and actions.
Let’s keep working in groups — but let’s also keep thinking as individuals.