The rapper E-40 said it best when he said, “We out here tryna function.”
If you don’t know what a “function” is, that is alright. It is many things. One might be familiar with the mathematical definition of a function from Rod Pierce which is, an equation that relates an input to an output, or even, as the opening line suggests, a hip hop dance move from the 2012 E-40 hit, “Function” featuring YG, IamSU!, and Problem. In this case, however, I mean a party hosted by a sorority or fraternity.
Math and dancing at a party may not seem intrinsically related. Yet while in college, I had to choose whether to sit and solve functions or attend one. The choice, as you may imagine, was not an easy one.
Don’t get me wrong; I was not one to shirk my studies. I am proud to say that I was recognized as someone who lived in the Knight Library, the largest library on the University of Oregon campus. I had a “spot” and if you needed me but couldn’t reach me (there was spotty cell signal on the fourth floor), you could come over and find me there. I also loved to attend my sorority functions. They were a great opportunity to shed some stress, spend time with my sisters, socialize with others from different houses and sometimes even raise money if they were philanthropic events.
Making a Tough Choice
But one particular instance stands out for me. A function hosted by my sorority and another fraternity fell on the Thursday before a midterm. I remember walking with my sorority sister and best friend, across the West University parking lot toward our apartment complex, where we lived across the hall from one another. We were talking about whether we were going to attend. I considered myself to be involved in all aspects of sorority life and felt I needed to attend every function. I happily told her I was going.
She told me she was not. I was amazed. I noncommittally pleaded with her to go but knew she would not. I also internally questioned whether I should go or not. I felt pressured by my own standards and desire to have a good time to attend the function. Yet I knew that I should probably not go. My midterm was in the afternoon and I would have time to review before the exam, but I knew on some level that I was not acting in my best interests. But I went anyway.
I had a good time making many memories to last me a lifetime. I also did well on my midterm. The studying I had done and perhaps a little luck really helped me out. But I often wonder, would things have been different had I made another choice.
Her choice sticks with me to this day. She has since graduated from a Ph.D. program in Audiology and practices successfully in Minnesota. Her success in life reminds me of her convictions in college to make choices that were going to benefit her in the long run. At that moment, she exercised a mature choice, choosing delayed gratification instead of momentary pleasure. Now, when confronted with difficult choices that rely on my exercise of responsibility, I recall that moment.
Consider Your Goals
We are shaped by the choices we make along our journey through college and beyond. I encourage those who may be faced with difficult decisions like the one I faced, to consider the future beyond the scope of the function and the incredible time you may have. Think briefly on the goals you have for yourself and shape your current moment just enough on that end goal to do things that will be most beneficial to you.
Attend the function. Do the function. But remember, sometimes it’s better to solve the function instead.