Monday, September 21, 2009

Activities! Join!

Do you dance? Do you sing? Are you Catholic? Episcopalian? Ski or snowboard? Play ultimate? We're the best team on campus. Business Today? Entrepreneurial club? Write for the Prince!

Freshman year (which honestly, I don't even remember at this point), and sophomore year, these questions would have been overwhelming and I would have tried to come up with a suitable response to each questioner. No, you don't want to see me dance. I sing, but barely. I'm Catholic, but I don't want to go to your Bible study. I ski, don't play ultimate, I don't know anything about business, and for the love of all that is good, I don't want to write for a student newspaper! (Oops).

Inevitably, the activities fair has two approaches: you join five million email lists and never respond to any of them - comme moi - or, you pick and choose carefully because you think you know exactly what you want to do in college, only signing up if you either participated in high school and think you're good enough to do in college or you're turning over a new leaf. (I still really want to try Capoeira but can't seem to find the moxie to show up).

I think the first approach, despite the crushing number of emails I received my first two years, is probably the best and I would recommend it to any underclassman. Sign up for everything. Over the years, your skills and interests will change. I came to Princeton thinking I wanted to sing and dance in Triangle or an a cappella group. Luckily, I signed up for things like Whig-Clio, the E-Club, Ski Team, Club Swimming, The Prince, The Nassau Weekly (ah, a brief stint in though it was), Club Squash, and Outdoor Action - profoundly affecting what I actually ended up participating in on campus. The emails that these clubs and organizations sent out over the course of a semester told me more than their members could have communicated over a 3 x 2 table in an overcrowded gym. I chose what I wanted to do because the opportunities simply kept filling my inbox. I had a much broader spectrum from which to choose.

Whereas the activities fair was overwhelming as a frosh, I now simply feel whelmed. ("I think you can in Europe.") I am running my own table - Ski and Snowboard team - and I'm stressing only because I don't have a decent poster and the rest of our officer corps hasn't shown up yet. As I wander around from table to table, partially to see friends, and partially searching for free food, I see my little sister's name immaculately printed on several lists. (I may have also written her name on a few lists - hey, what if she hadn't found this one? She would totally love this group!) A few people asked me to join their groups, but it was easy to casually decline with a quick "I'm a senior." Ah, the false confidence age inspires.

I may think I look like a senior, but I guess in the crowd I blend in. I decline any remaining offers from a cappella groups (you rejected me freshman year, remember?) and joke about how I am going to show up to Expressions auditions and dance, for amusement purposes only. I snag a flyer or two from Student Design Agency and Business Today, and I already know everyone at the Outdoor Action table, the PACT table, and even one of the Bible study tables, not to mention a few of the kids manning the LGBT table (from whom I steal a few cookies).

It's fun to walk through and see what I did here and what I missed. I have received emails from at least half of these people in my time here, and luckily, I don't feel like I've missed out on too much.