When I first arrived on campus in fall 2015, I was excited to start fresh. I knew Columbia would be a big adjustment from my private high school in Upstate New York, but I welcomed the challenge of entering a new, diverse community. It wasn’t long before I found my home, among the brothers of a fraternity which shall remain nameless. I fooled myself into believing that they were my family, but beneath the surface, I knew that I would never be truly belong. They looked down on me. I have heard them whispering about me when my back was turned. The worst part was that I knew the reason for all of this: I am the only guy in my frat who doesn’t play FIFA.
I know that you may scoff at this, but it’s not for a lack of trying. I’ve played all of the tutorials at least once. I even played a few games against Trevor, but he completely sauces me every time. I feel ashamed to be around my own brothers, and I know that they’re ashamed of me. My lack of skill at the game has become hesitance, and that hesitance has become a refusal to participate for fear. That refusal has made me a pariah, and outcast, ashamed to even show my face in the house.
They’ve even started making sure that new pledges play FIFA, just to correct the mistake that I am. I’m an outsider looking in; every time Declan yells at the TV about a missed penalty kick, or Phil punches Jordan in the face to throw him off his game, the most I can do is laugh and pretend that I’m a part of it. But I never will be. I’ll never be the one who beats someone five-nil and forces them to celebrate my awesome masculinity. Hell, I’ll never be the one that even scores a goal in his FIFA career, but you know what, I’m okay with who I am.
Sure, I’m not the best virtual ball kicker in the frat. But I can drink beer like the best of them. I’ve also totally had sex with like, some girls, and from what I can tell that’s like the ticket to being cool, so who cares if the frat doesn’t accept me. I am a strong independent youth and I will not be slighted by some semi-bearded hobgoblins who think that they can determine the virility of the other by some button pushing. Despite all this upbeat thinking, however, the whole experience has left me wondering where do I fit in?
I don’t know what I expected out of Columbia. I thought I would find community that looks past where I come from, that didn’t make decisions on whether I belong based on a single quality of who I am. I thought my identity as a straight man who wasn’t crazy about soccer video games would be accepted. I was wrong, so very wrong. I don’t know if there’s a place for me in this community. I don’t know if there’s a place for me anywhere. All I know is that no matter where I go, I’ll never be able to outrun how others see me. This is my cross bar to bear.