It all began with a name. Three letters, one syllable, and a lifetime of confusion from friends, strangers and substitute teachers alike.
On March 28th, 1996, my parents called me Max — named after my great grandfather.
As a kid, I truly resented every aspect of my name. I was made fun of for being a boy — or a dog, for that matter. It was mission impossible to find a keychain or a mug with my name on it, and if I did, it was blue and was decked out in race cars.
Being given a guys name was essentially a condemnation to be a tomboy. I was a Nike-shorts-wearing, Game-Boy-playing girly reject. I’d get yelled at by my friends that I was spending too much time with their brothers, and not enough time with them.
This trend must have followed me to sleepaway camp, which was undoubtedly one of, if not, the worst experience of my life. For those two summers, I spent most of my time crying, writing angry letters to my parents to the tune of, “I hate you. Why’d you do this to me?” and finding the most creative ways to avoid going to planned activities.
When I went on teen tours, the next typical step after sleepaway camp in the Long Island how-to-be-normal guidebook, I found myself in a friend group with 15 guys, one girl, and myself. That was about the point in my life where I acknowledged the fact that I am doomed to be a guys girl or a female bro.
So when I got to Lehigh, I was faced with an unexpected question — did I want to rush a sorority? The idea of living in tight quarters with 40 plus women seemed to me like an estrogen-induced endless nightmare that I could not escape from.
Ultimately, I did go through recruitment, as almost half of Lehigh does. Mostly because of its prevalence on campus, mostly because I met some surprisingly down-to-Earth girls in sororities, mostly because my mom strongly suggested I do it.
Recruitment was not easy for me. I am not exactly what one would dub classy. I constantly felt like I was in that scene from “Princess Diaries” in which Anne Hathaway is learning how to be a proper lady. I had to put on this facade on all week that I was this sorority-girl-in-the-making, when in actuality, my friends had to convince me the first day that a flannel and jeans were unacceptable attire.
When the process was over, and I got a bid from my chapter, I couldn’t help but feel this nauseous hybrid of anxiety and excitement. Walking into bid day, I felt my stomach drop as girls yelled in my face and honked their horns. “What the hell have I gotten myself into?” was a phrase that crossed my mind multiple times throughout the evening.
However, within the week, I learned that I ended up right where I was supposed to be. Before going through recruitment, I didn’t think Lehigh was for me. I hadn’t found my niche or my crowd like my parents had promised, but joining my chapter gave me all of that.
I’m not going to pretend it’s easy being a typically dude-esque girl living in a sorority. I often need to retract and watch “Rick and Morty” with my guy friends. I once heard my situation described as being a green fish in a sea of goldfish. At first, it’s easy to feel out of place and alone. You feel like you don’t belong like no one is there for you.
Though the second you realize who you truly are and who you want to be, you feel pride in being different. You take a look around and realize that people not only love but respect you for being different. You get so much more excited when you meet people who are like you. So being a female bro turned sorority girl has been one of the most positive changes in my life, and I’m proud that my cool name was the topic of 99 percent of my rush conversations that got me there.
Max Rosenbaum, ’18, is an assistant lifestyle editor for The Brown and White. She can be reached at [email protected]