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10 October 2005

Measure Yourself

“525,600 minutes, 525,600 moments so dear. 525,600 minutes.
How do you measure, measure a year?
In daylights, in sunsets, in midnights, in cups of coffee.
In inches, in miles, in laughter, in strife. In 525,600 minutes.
How do you measure a year in the life?”

—Rent, “Seasons of Love”

In high school, I was the type of student who was always involved in a million things. If there had been an underwater-basket-weaving club in our high school, not only would I have been a member and an officer, but I would have also started a campaign to introduce underwater-basket-weaving awareness on other campuses.

I’m the kind of person who has to be doing something just for the sole purpose of doing something. For instance, in my senior year of high school I had presidential duties for three organizations: National Honor Society, Latin Club and Speech and Debate. Not to mention involvement in other organizations such as being treasurer for Leo’s Club and having a part in our school’s production of “Guys and Dolls.” Of course, this was all done while trying to manage five advanced placement classes.

My social life was as short-lived as the attention span of a six-year-old in a toy store at Christmas time. To say that my senior year was hectic is an understatement. To say that I was crazy would not be too far from the truth. Even the summer following my senior year, I kept myself preoccupied by holding two jobs. During the day I was a day camp counselor for the YMCA and at night I worked as a waiter at Gringo’s, a popular Tex-Mex restaurant. By the way, if you happen to be in the Houston area you should take the time to eat there. They serve the best fajitas and enchiladas.

During the summer, I worked on average a total of about 75 hours a week. The summer before college, which should have been a relaxing one, was instead a summer filled with screaming kids, late nights and very early mornings. Summer, it seemed, went quickly by like a fleeting thought, with college looming just around the corner.

Looking back, I think what motivated me to be so involved was my longstanding belief that your actions define who you are. I am the type of person who is in perpetual motion. I live on the adrenaline rush that I receive from being simply involved.

So when anticipating my freshman year at UT, one of my primary concerns was my tendency to become overly occupied. You see, as a result of my over-involvement in my senior year, I didn’t have as much time to spend with family, friends and myself. Sometimes I find myself questioning my incessant need to be involved. Could it perhaps be a result of my underlying need to belong? But then again, by nature, humankind is always looking for a place to belong, a group to be part of and an idea to align ourselves with. Think about it, we are drawn together and, by nature, are social animals.

Social critic and writer Eric Hoffer notes, “The desire to belong is in part a desire to lose oneself.” It’s strange to think about it, but when we become part of a group our sense of individualism merges with the group’s identity, losing the clarity of our individuality with the amalgamation of various personalities to form the identity of a group. This idea struck me while I was watching the UT vs. OU football game. To see the massive ocean of orange-clad spectators chanting “Texas Fight!” struck me with an odd sense of wonder. Watching so many individuals united under the one goal of cheering our players on made me understand how easy it is to lose our identity when we immerse ourselves with the collective identity. To become part of something greater than yourself is a feeling that is not easily described. You could say that we measure ourselves to the extent that others perceive us. We measure the success of our lives based on the success that others view in us. OK, I’m starting to ramble and to digress from the original intent of this entry. Blame it on my tendency to over-analyze and over-philosophize. Sometimes I pretend to write like I know what I’m talking about, when in reality they’re only mere speculations of a freshman college student.

Back on track…

With such a multitude of interests and personalities, UT is home to a diverse group of clubs and organizations. My first day of school was spent trying to weave through the traffic of people enticing me to join their respective organizations. Students waving flyers promising the allure of free pens, free games and most definitely free food assaulted me as I exited Jester East. Being the kind of person who can’t say no, I ended up at my first class with an armful of flyers. The next day I practiced my “I’m-on-the-phone-please-don’t-talk-to-me” walk as I traveled past the different organizational booths camped out in front of Jester and Gregory Gym. This time I was more successful in resisting the urge to grab another flyer.

For the most part, I think I have achieved moderation in the number of organizations I belong to, partly due to scheduling conflicts and partly because I finally realized that I don’t need to join every single organization to measure my own self-worth. I’ve learned my lesson. But don’t get me wrong, I’m not here to discourage you from joining clubs or affiliations. On the contrary, my intent of this entry was to encourage all incoming freshman to be involved their freshman year.

I am pledging in Alpha Kappa Psi, a co-ed business fraternity. Ironically enough, I was the type of student in high school who pledged never to join a fraternity. But, in Alpha Kappa Psi I saw something different, something unique in its perspective that drew me to joining the organization. To future business students and to skeptics, I say look into it. It won’t hurt to try. Through Alpha Kappa Psi I have met so many wonderful people and have developed a bond with my pledge brothers that will last a lifetime. In such a large university, finding a group of people who share your interests makes the experience that much more special.

If you have any questions or just want to say hi, send me an e-mail message.

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