I started today by making omelets. 3 egg whites, 2 full eggs, turkey sausage, sauteed spinach with diced onions, and a sprinkling of feta cheese. A hearty yet nutritious breakfast intended to take me from late morning through mid afternoon. I took care in choosing what to wear for the day, something chic yet casual (lest I look to be trying too hard). I forewent makeup but styled my hair. At my roommate’s request I emerged from my room, dressed and ready to go, in less than 10 minutes.
We walked the three short blocks to the train at a quick pace, hurrying not to miss the soon arriving train. We hit the platform as the outbound cars pulled into the station. Stepping onto the train I looked to my right, searching for a seat. Instead, I saw a familiar face. Walking over to greet my friend I saw another person I know, then another and another. It suddenly dawned on me that in that train car I was surrounded by classmates. As one guy offered me his seat he said, “Aww look! You brought a lunch box.” I smiled and replied, “Well it is the first day of school.”
After months of funemployment that included trips abroad, pre MBA classes, endless soap opera watching and a cross country move, the day that I (and 575 other Booth 1st years) have been anticipating for months finally arrived. At 1:00 p.m. today orientation for Chicago Booth’s Class of 2014 kicked off. As I stepped off the Metra at 59th street I followed a sea of familiar and unfamiliar faces to Harper Center to start what many say will be two of the most amazing years of our lives.
Today not only marks the start of our school year it is also one month to the day that I moved to Chicago. I knew so many familiar faces en route to school this afternoon because I’ve spent the last month meeting them at house parties, bars, on Random Walk, and other social gatherings my classmates have organized in Chicago. Even though I knew several dozen people before today, seeing all 576 of us gathered in one place for the first time was more than a little overwhelming.
In the last two weeks leading up to this day I had started to worry that business school may not turn out to be the great experience I’d imagined it to be when I was still an applicant. Although they are no walk in the park, it’s not the classes nor the job recruiting that strike fear in my heart. No. These things I am sure I can handle. While attending the pre Random Walk party at Dave and Busters several weeks ago I soon noticed people migrating from game to game in small, impenetrable groups and suddenly felt like I was back in high school, looking for a place to fit in but not finding any open spots. I survived high school once and I am so not about that life anymore and thought I’d never have to be. However, watching people close ranks around each other so soon I fear that business school will be an unasked for do over.
It’s not that I don’t get along with the classmates I’ve met thus far. I do. I just haven’t found my people yet, those permanent fixtures who will be my crew. It’s really early and I would not be worried about this yet if it didn’t seem like everyone else already found their bestie. Being one of 576 just increases my anxiety. There’s so many people to meet I don’t know where to begin. I worry that by the time I form close relationships all of the “cool kids” will be taken and I’ll be left to hang out with Farmer Ted, Long Duk Dong, and Booger. Am I being shallow? Yes. But I don’t care. I don’t need to be the most popular girl in my class, but I’d at least like to be moderately cool.
Thus far everyone I’ve met has been quite nice, but if business school really is like high school I doubt that will last much longer. It won’t be long before we are gossiping about one another (check out Overheard @ Booth in Chibus) and skewering “that girl or guy” in Follies. We are adults now so I doubt there will be any showdowns in the halls of Harper but one bad night could land a person on the “do not invite” list. I don’t want to be on the outside looking in when everything shakes out. I’ve done that before and it’s no fun. I honestly don’t think I have the energy to be all the way into everything. I simply don’t want to be out of everything either.
I know I am not the only person feeling this way. Several other girls have shared similar sentiments with me. None of us want to reenact the movie Mean Girls for the next two years. I am sincerely hoping that even though I now have locker to put my backpack in everyday and the Metra is a school bus on rails, that my high school days really are behind me forever.