of a girl in the oven
By Reagan Duplisea '01
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
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
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
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
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.