Winter 2008
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TCU Magazine "Purpectives"

Articles: Memoirs of a girl in the oven

Self-made woman

By Reagan Duplisea '01

Right before I started my life at TCU and all during orientation, I continually heard that college was a time to reinvent oneself.

Although I had been severely drilled in the art of loving myself and being content with the person I was, I still nevertheless always wanted to be one of the "cool crowd."

Shyness and a commitment to my studies had always seemed to get in the way of a social life before. Most of my regrets in high school were over things I hadn't done -- concerts I hadn't attended, invitations to go out that I had declined -- more than the things I had tried.

As an entering TCU freshman, then, I became determined to become the new, improved, social butterfly Reagan, the person on campus everyone knew and looked up to. I was determined to be more social than I had been in high school. Unfortunately, circumstances and my own personality quickly interfered.

The Howdy Week pep rally seemed to be the perfect place to test my new outgoing and life-of-the-party self. Taking the cue from my rather boisterous RA, I cheered loudly and danced to the marching band's fight songs.

On the outside, I may have appeared to be full of purple pride, but inside I felt ridiculous. I still cared too much about what people thought of me: Do I look dumb dancing like this? Should I be wearing these clothes?

Forgoing Rush also greatly hindered my renaissance, though I have never regretted not joining a sorority. Still, it's difficult to feel popular if you are one of the few in your entire dorm who isn't talking about pledges or deciding what to wear to all the mixers.

I also didn't have a car, and my pride kept me from continually asking for rides, so my great experiment continued to suffer. It didn't take long until I had once again retreated into myself. Most of my weekends were spent doing homework or watching the TCU Movie Channel.

Every Friday afternoon, my nose became buried in all the art books in the library that I could open before they closed for the night. I devoted myself to my studies and to extracurricular activities, but partly for the wrong reasons.

This wallflower still desired some recognition. I showed up every Friday at noon for the TCU Daily Skiff staff meetings hoping my eagerness and willingness to help earlier in the week would earn me the honor of being "staff member of the week."

But more often than not, I didn't get set apart, which seemed to be my lot in life. However, I did reinvent myself. Just not in the way I first planned. No, I haven't won a Pulitzer (yet), but I started doing things for the right reasons and realized that other's recognition isn't as important anymore.

I came to college very conservative in my beliefs. I remember being shocked that a "Christian" college had such lenient visiting hours, had a bad word (hell) in one of its main cheers and had an organization for homosexual students. I judged many of my fellow classmates -- many of them purported Christians -- who cursed, smoked and drank.

I couldn't fathom leaders in religious organizations on campus who would compare the severity of their weekend hangovers.

The turning point was studying abroad in London, not so much for experiencing another culture but for seeing my fellow members of the TCU London Centre. Some of them smoked. Some of them drank. Some of them were Greek. But that was okay; during late-night conversations and long bus trips, we realized we all had some things in common.

Surrounding myself with people who didn't agree on the exact same things I did made my life more interesting and did not "corrupt" me. It's entirely possible to disagree with someone and still be friends. Today, I still don't smoke, I'm still a Christian, and I drink only once in awhile.

It's probably the friendships I've made and retained that have helped me reinvent my way of thinking the most. Acceptance of the people in my life has made me richer. Some friendships -- my high school friend who came out of the closet to me and my closest friend my freshman year who had a baby out of wedlock -- could have been lost a couple years ago.

Instead, now they are among my strongest friendships because I have learned to say, "What do you need from me?" I'm now quite liberal in my way of thinking. I've learned a new respect and tolerance for people. I've danced the night away at The Village, a gay club in Dallas. I chose not step up to a publications position even though all my professors wanted me to.

And yes, I even voted for Ralph Nader. And maybe I'm not the most popular person at TCU, in my classes or even my department, but I have learned to speak up. Sometimes I even speak before I'm spoken to.

My voice may still not be one of the loudest, but it is present nevertheless.

Reagan Duplisea is a journalism senior from El Paso and with the magazine staff has learned the finer points of a good merlot.