Friday, July 17, 2015

Frat Boy: Gracie - The Bad

When Gracie told me that she approved of my first girlfriend I had in college, I was really annoyed.

I was a sophomore and while I still saw Gracie around and thought of her as a friend I didn’t need her like I did the previous year. It was Gracie and a group of girls that made me feel welcome at Phi Mu Alpha parties. For this and many other instances in which she made an effort to bring me into the fold, I was grateful.

But I wasn’t a kid anymore.

Over time, I had overheard people complaining about Gracie. People would say that she was controlling and was a know-it-all. Yes, Gracie did like things to go a certain way, but that way was to be inclusive and yes she did talk authoritatively about PMA, SAI and NUMB but the reality was that more often than not she knew what she was talking about.

So I played by Gracie’s rules. I took her advice during my first election at PMA, which I won. We talked about the politics of our fraternities often and she never stopped standing up for me.

The more I grew into my own person, the more I became a leader in the organization, the more distance there was between Gracie and me. She would always give me an enthusiastic hug when she saw me, especially at parties, but we had less and less to talk about.

I was walking on campus on a beautiful spring day and Gracie saw me and we stopped to talk. She told me that she heard about this girl I was with, who was a new member of SAI,  I wasn’t surprised that she had heard the gossip, but I was taken aback when she told me that she “approved” of me going out with this girl.

Yes, Gracie once upon a time really was my “college-mom” but in a year, I had grown up and out of needing her to take care of me. While I did care about what she thought, the fact that she felt that her approval was important to me didn’t feel right.

We have people who look out for us at points in our life when we need help and Gracie was really there for me.  But I couldn’t help shake the feeling that while I grew up, she didn’t see that in me. Later I would understand how hard it is to let go of being in a place of influence in an organization and watch the younger crowd take over. But at the moment, I felt like she was being condescending. Maybe this was simply the way that Gracie showed that she cared, and I just took it the wrong way.

Some relationships take decades to develop and be fully explored. Other relationships take years to pan out while some arch in even shorter periods of time. At the end of that year, when Gracie graduated, I knew we were done. Towards the end, Gracie and I had gotten in some disagreements and there was tension surrounding her from others as well. Most of us just brushed it as her just being herself.

Sometimes in life we decide a fight isn’t worth it, but sometimes the battles we let go lead to even bigger conflicts. And telling myself “Gracie was just being Gracie” came back in a way that I never expected.

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