Sunday, August 25, 2013

Advice from Anime: Join a Club

Clubs are a powerful presence in school anime. Some creators use clubs as an excuse for a harem or borderline harem anime. Those have little appeal to me, but even school club anime without a polarized male-female ratio don't always keep my interest. And then there are anime like Chihayafuru, which wouldn't be the treasures they are without their clubs.

All of these school club anime, mediocre and excellent alike, get one thing right: clubs are a great way to meet people. Thus, if I can give one piece advice to incoming college freshmen, it's this: join a club.

I never thought I'd say something like that. I never thought that I would join a club in college. I was sure that school, work, and required hall activities would be all my introverted self could handle. I'm the type who can go weeks without seeing another human being and be perfectly happy. I might enjoy social activities on occasion, but, as a general rule, I need to spend at least twice as much time by myself to recover from social events. When it's really bad, I can't even handle Twitter or Facebook.

Yet even introverts get lonely. When my roommates moved out before second semester, I decided that I'd be purposeful about socializing and making friends. I still didn't plan on joining a club, though. I did not want that kind of commitment. In fact, when a professor suggested that I join a club to meet people, I politely and firmly told him that there was no way I'd have the time and energy for such activities.

Not long after the start of spring semester, a classmate came up to me and said she was going to start a pro-life club. She needed some founding members and officers. I thought and prayed about it for a few days before agreeing to join. Before I knew it, I wasn't just part of a club. I was signing paperwork, agreeing to be the club's vice president! I was the right hand woman. When the president wasn't around, people looked to me for answers. This decision surprised me, my family, and probably some of my hallmates.

Okay, so our club's  not quite all hugs and sparkles like
this scene from Chihayafuru 2. But we're friends, which
is more than we were a year ago.
It was a surprise, but it was a good surprise. I made friends I wouldn't have made otherwise. As a task-oriented, sometimes shy, introverted girl, I find that working alongside someone is a safe, low-stress way to get to know them. And, just like in anime, the founding club members started to hang out outside of club meetings. We went to see a play. We ate together at the dining hall after meetings. The founding president gave me tea and honey when I had a bad cold. Three of us went to a summit put on by the nationwide Students for Life organization. We laughed, talked, and learned together. It was a shorter and less intense trip than the club training trips in Eyeshield 21 or the tournaments in Chihayafuru, and only a few of us were able to go. Yet it was enough for me to experience some of the same bonding that's present in my favorite club anime.

I was surprised by what I could handle. I often acted more like the club secretary than a vice president (and I'm relieved to report that this semester, I am the secretary). Yet I still had a leadership position. I led our club meeting when the president was sick. I was committed to both the general club meetings and short planning sessions. And none of this caused an emotional breakdown. This might seem like small stuff from the outside. To me, it was an incredible step.

In anime, clubs are often used to make self-conscious or loner characters open up and loosen up. People who would never meet become friends. Bookworms and athletes, Type-A students and slackers, class clowns and the painfully shy: all are joined together by one shared interest or goal. I used to think that clubs were for extroverts. Now, I'd almost argue the opposite: clubs are just what introverts like me need to get our healthy dose of purposeful socialization.

So, freshmen, here's a tip: join a club. Participate in a sport, whether you're on the school team or playing intramurals. Help put on a play. Join a small group or Bible study. Find some sort of activity or organization that you'd like to be a part of, and be open to personal growth and new friendship. Dare to step outside your comfort zone. You just might find that it's not so uncomfortable out there after all.


  1. Clubs are something I haven't really participated in at University (barring a 10 week sign language course), mostly because i'm lazy and want to play video games XD However, since my class is being split up next year and i'm going to be losing 80% of the people I spend time with, it may be something i'll have to consider. Even then I would say it's unlikely, however, because my course takes up so much time that i'm not sure I could take anything else. Still, it's a possibility.

    Clubs were something I did more in High School, with Karate being where I had the most fun with other people, but even then I didn't really hang out with them outside the club.

    After having said all that though, joining a club would be an amazing thing for most people (and founding one with a few friends is probably one of the best ways to go). I spend so much time in small tutorial groups interacting with other people, so that's probably another thing that makes me feel that it's less necessary.

    I feel like i've rambled a little >.<

    1. Hey, you can ramble in comments on my blog all you want... it will make me feel better when I catch myself rambling on yours. :)

      Small tutorial groups (I'm translating that into American lingo as study groups... hope I'm right) would probably fulfill a similar social need as clubs and other activities do, so that makes sense. I sometimes wonder if I'll be able to participate in my club so much as I get into higher classes, but I figure I'll take it one semester at a time. I've already been surprised at how much I can handle.

    2. Tutorials are a mandatory part of my course, so unfortunately they don't count >.<

  2. gotta agree to your simple advice there. mind if I share some stuff?

    anyway as an introvert myself, when I first enter college I simply joined this organization (it's what we call our school clubs) for our major, computer engineering. I'm not exactly an active member back then but I did met a few people. a couple of years later, I never expected myself to be an officer... I was the vice president for promotions. through it, I was able to meet a few more people, develop my leadership a bit and actually be close to other more people in our major than I never expected myself to be close to(:

    somehow it's kind of interesting how one finds himself through being an active member of a club opening a few more opportunities - similar to what you have shared or to what we usually see in anime series :D

    1. Thanks for sharing, czai!

      It's pretty cool how you went from being a sort of active member to a club officer. Amazing and unexpected things can happen if you're open to it. :D Guess those crazy club anime, even those like Melancholy of Suzumiya Haruhi, were right about a few things!


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