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Brandeis University's Community Newspaper — Waltham, Mass.

The consequences of committing

Published: September 5, 2014
Section: Opinions

I assume that I am like most people: I want to get involved in my college community, even at the expense of nightly commitments. I want to spend an incredible amount of time assisting my club in perfecting their craft, whether it be writing for a newspaper, debating a timely issue or simply having a pizza party. I have even considered joining sports teams when my body tells me time after time that, really, exercising isn’t my cup of tea. However, when the activities fair comes around, while perusing clubs, I make a pact with myself to try new things and to make commitments that I already know I can’t keep, because really, what kind of college student would I be if I did not overbook myself?

I want to get my feet wet in the world that is college clubs, and so, despite my own rationality, I sign up for about 20 clubs each time the fair comes around. There is something beautiful about commitment, even if only an idea. The idea of being an active member of my college community is a gift and being vested with the opportunity to explore my creativity and leadership skills, a blessing. So in good stride I sign up every year for clubs I will never go to, only to receive that shining moment of camaraderie between the club leader and myself; “Yes,” I will say, “I am coming to your meeting tonight in the SCC,” to which the leader looks at me with elation, and responds, “We’re happy to have you.” Ah, the feeling of accomplishment.

But then school starts. In what seems like a mere instant, I am befuddled as to why I signed up for so many clubs. Not only is there homework to be completed, but there are days that I must take tests, friends whom I want to see and papers that I must write until dawn because I put them off for three weeks. Yes, life gets extraordinarily busy, and I can’t find time to breathe, let alone to honor my prior commitments. And so the time comes when I decide that no, I am not going to go to rugby, and no, I am not in the mood to debate politics, and I quietly, mentally resign from my previous undertakings, deeming them subsidiary to my academic and social life. And as I say farewell, something dawns on me: I am still on their mailing list.

I’m not someone who looks forward to confrontations. Sure, I could simply message the club leader that I am no longer interested, but how humiliating. I am the person who just a week prior jumped into their club with such gusto, that the feeling of quitting after such a brief time would not only mean failure, but also embarrassment and ridicule. So I never sent emails to these club leaders. Instead, I asked around to see if there was a way to silently withdraw from communication, like my commitment had never occurred.

I asked around at school, desperately seeking a way to unsubscribe from my plethora of clubs—no one had an answer. “Oh, you know, I don’t really know,” they would say, “I’m still subscribed, and I never got rid of it.” I consulted the Internet, but the road to unsubscribe was anything but clear-cut, and to a self-doubting first-year like myself, it would have been greatly appreciated if at least one club had included the unsubscribe link in their email.

While I was scrambling to unsubscribe, I received deep and personal emails from women’s rugby, which I had never attended, and felt tremendously awkward that I was privy to their intimate conversations. I struggled to keep deleting every email I was sent from about 10 different clubs, feeling like a traitor, not attending any of them. Finally, after my hard battle to unsubscribe, I received an email from guitar club, and at the bottom was, you guessed it, the club’s mailing list. I screamed, “Eureka!” and immediately unsubscribed to about 13 clubs, all the while telling all my close friends that I had solved a Brandeis mystery that had haunted me for months. Yet I still hold onto my women’s rugby emails as a remembrance to never forget those terrible times, an aimless first-year who didn’t know how to visit the Brandeis mailing list. Also, to laugh at how many practices the team had while I sipped tea in my room while watching Netflix and reading for UWS. But in the future, I recommend that clubs include their mailing list in emails. Help a first-year out, will you?