Sunday, December 10, 2006

My Fraternity: Delta Sigma Pi

I did this article on NKU's Pi Kappa Alpha, the "Pikes", where they helped out their president's mom who has cancer. It got me thinking about my own fraternity: Delta Sigma Pi

I didn't get alot of academic encouragement other than "get good grades or else" or self-esteem building growing up. I knew I had a little bit of brains but I was a bit lazy which looked to some like stupidity and I always had that nagging doubt - "Maybe I am bit dumb? I do get lost easily." Recently, I was watching a movie where a girl made a mix tape for a guy (Do they still do that? Maybe a mix playlist?) and I thought of a time a girl in high school gave me a mix tape. I had no idea why. I listened to it a bit in the car on the way home that day, but it was full of bad 80s pop. When she asked about it a few days later I let her know the songs were crap. This was senior year. So maybe I was stupid - she was hot.

I must have gotten into Ball State under their Clerical Error Program because my high school grades were pretty bad - 1 or 2 As total, a few Bs, mostly Cs with a few Ds. My rank was in the bottom of the class of 600 or so. The number 382 sticks in my head for some reason.

At college, second semester freshman year I pledged Delta Sigma Pi. This is not a social fraternity but limited to business majors - and they accept chicks. No frat house - they had an office in the building by the lounge area. They did have keggers at member's houses and apartments. There was a fair amount of drinking (The Divine Mrs. M. still remembers me cracking an oak door with my head), but at that time at this point, they were the smarter business students and they just assumed I was smart to which made me feel smart. I started to work and study and get good grades.

They were also tapped into the faculty pretty well so if I ever had any problems - late papers, non-attendance - were forgiven. Again, the profs just assumed I was smart as well since I was with the Delta Sigs. The assistant dean at the time was also very encourageing to me in particular. He gave me a key to the business building and a key to the elevator - usually only faculty had these, but he just one day gave them to me. A few times I had the dean get me into a class without the right prerequisites. I'm sure this was because of being a member of my frat.

I'm not sure I would have stuck with school if I hadn't joined. Delta Sigma Pi gave me a lot of confidence which probably helped me land the Divine Mrs. M. later that summer. Once she and I were together, I was done with other women. She was on a full ride academic scholarship so she had to keep her grades up. That sucked me into working harder - if I wanted to be with her I had to be studying.

But to this day - after earning my two degrees and the CFA designation and writing a book (remember that?) and building a small investment business, and accidently becoming a freelance writer for a major newspaper and some magazines, I still think of myself as a "dumb guy". That insecurity is built into my core.

I'm Rainman smart on some things - inconsequential things - but I'm oblivious to alot. I live in fear that the limited success I have had is a mirage. When I sit around the table, my natural instinct is to just assume everyone else there is many magnatudes smarter than myself.

I try to be successful, to garner some kind of achievement. I think there's a knowledge of success that I should comprehend. But between me and it, there seems to be a gauze over my understanding. Everything is fuzzy like those shots of Liz Taylor in those White Diamond commercials. It's my own private Allegory of the Cave. Maybe it will always be there. I'd gladly bit into the forbidden fruit if I could just find that there tree of knowledge.

I think my own drive (it's more like an amble) for success of whatever kind is just an attempt to prove those first 18 years prove them wrong - but maybe that's in vain. To prove those 18 years wrong is to deny my own existence in a way. Maybe they aren't wrong, but just are. It's part of my and what I am. Proving them wrong would be like proving gravity wrong.

Does any of this make sense? A smart guy would know.

Stay You.
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