This past weekend, my fraternity, Pi Kappa Phi (Delta Delta chapter) celebrated 40 years at my alma mater. Truman State University. I got to see lots of old friends and brothers and meet new initiates. I graduated eight years ago and haven't been to Kirksville since just before I left for Belize. Being back in Kirksville is always a weird time warp where everything is both familiar and peculiar at the same time.
I was very involved in the fraternity when I was active in college. I lived in the fraternity house two different years. I served in multiple leadership positions, including a year on the Executive Council. During my sophomore and junior years, I attended Push Camp - where Pi Kapps from around the country spend their Spring Break building stuff at camps for kids with disabilities. In many ways, Pi Kappa Phi helped shape me as a man.
But, I realized something important this weekend. I am no longer the same person I was in college - not by a long shot. In college (and high school and middle school before that), I was made fun of a lot. I took so much shit (and took it so well) that I actually won our fraternity's brown helmet award (annually given to the guy who gets the most shit) three years in a row. I learned in college not to take the ribbing to heart. Fraternity brothers give each other shit all the time and I gave almost as good as I got.
This weekend, I fell back into that old role. This type of thing always tends to happen when old friends reunite. We fill the roles that we used to play, even if we are no longer that character. Once again, I found myself the butt of jokes from fraternity brothers. In fact, my most persistent tormentor from college emcee'd the formal dinner on Saturday night and practically roasted me (and a few others) in front of 200 of my brothers. The jokes were on point, funny, and, truth be told, I actually enjoyed the attention, but it also made me feel like I was 19 again.
What struck me most about the whole weekend, though, was how I was not that person anymore. The metamorphosis began in law school and continued through my work in DC and Belize. If you asked my friends and co-workers in Belmopan to give out a brown helmet award, I don't think I would come close to winning it. Filling that old role over the weekend helped me realize how much I have grown over the last eight years. I like the person I have become - the person I am.