I know.... It's been a while.
Sparing you the details, I am just now emerging from the whirlwind that has been formal sorority recruitment, the first two weeks of class, the Barkley Forum for High Schoolers, a very persistent and stubborn cold, and figuring my life out.
Whew! I'm tired just thinking about how busy the last two weeks of my life have been.
I'm admittedly struggling as I try to write this post because I don't know how to express all of the things I am feeling and thinking. I feel loved, confused, happy, tired, introverted, depressed, accepted, judged, and a thousand things all at the same time, and I'm not sure how to untangle any of those things for each other.
But the one word that keeps peeking out from the mess of my emotions right now is "family."
After the sometimes awful/sometimes blissful experience of trying to manage sorority recruitment and the Barkley Forum debate tournament at the same time, I have come to feel that "family" is a feeling, a sort of warmth you can feel inside of you. This weekend, I felt family glowing inside of me in more senses than I thought possible.
Family is the Barkley Forum.
It is the men and women who love debate and the debate community as much as I do. It is the silence that never exists between two debaters because there is always something to be said about Wilderson or the politics disadvantage, regardless of which one of those arguments you fancy. It is the way hugs are accepted and exchanged with sincerity between people who may not have more in common than just believing that for some reason debate is worthwhile. It is our coaching staff staying up until the late hours of the night to run a tournament that shows the rest of the country how strong the Barkley Forum is. It is Christy Bradley's resilience. It is the strength that holds us together when the integrity and open-mindedness of our activity is questioned and attacked. It is late night dinner runs after double-octafinals with my closest friends (and future roommates!). It is the unconditional love that fills the tab room, and the smell of Mellow Mushroom. Family is the knowledge that these people accepted me, wanted me, and believed in me when I didn't, and that they will continue to commit to me, support me, and cherish me long past when my final debate round is. It is not a feeling I can describe other than to say that the Barkley Forum is a family, and one I am so happy to be a part of.
Family is my new sisters (and I can't believe I just said the word "sisters").
It is the girls I don't yet know at Gamma Phi Beta who are so excited to meet me and accept me without knowing anything about me. It is the way they sacrificed sleep, time, and their voices so that I (and the rest of my pledge class) could find them. It is their desire to share with me something that has brought them joy. Family is the way they dance, and laugh, and speak in front of each other without inhibition or fear of judgement. You are loved because you are a sister and because you are you. Nothing else matters. It is weird hand motions, and chants, and letters, and tote bags, and sweatshirts, and all these things I never imagined I would love. Family is the love I feel towards a group of women I don't even know, and the love I feel in return from a family that already loves me.
I don't know where the next three years of college will take me. I don't know if I'll quit debate, if I'll deactivate from my sorority, or if I'll find something new. All I know is that right now I feel like I belong in not just one, but multiple families.
I am so grateful and excited.