• Tue, Aug 21 2012

Why I’m Joining The Junior League

junior league

For the floral dresses, duh.

Look, let’s be honest, I’m not joining the Junior League because I love volunteering. My major takeaway from the few times I’ve volunteered is “there are too many people here being artificially jolly and the recipients of the charity look intensely uncomfortable about this. Actually, everyone looks uncomfortable.” So basically “this is awful.” That’s what I’ve learned from volunteering. That it’s awful.

This is, incidentally, not a thing to say to members of the Junior League, a nearly 100 year old volunteer institution for women. When I wrote that I was pretty interested but HAHAHA HATED HELPING PEOPLE a member wrote back explaining to me that all the members were joined by their passion for volunteer activities.

Oh.

This is like when I was asked in a group what made me happiest in life and I said “buying three Lindt truffles – peanut butter, hazelnut and stracciatella (whose spelling I just had to look up) – and eating them as I walk home from my Pilates class.” Seriously. I do that every Sunday afternoon. It’s one of the few things that makes me reliably happy.

Turns out the correct answer was “friends and family.” Which really killed my cool conversation starter on how I was thinking about swapping out hazelnut for almond (don’t. It’s a bad life choice. Though I’m toying with the idea of trading that one that’s hard to spell for the vanilla flavor, which is new and comes in a wrapper I would call “mauve”).

So that’s why I’m joining the Junior League. Because they have delicious pastries. And a running club.

No, not really. Although, come to think of it, they do. So, I guess, partly that. Those do strike me as really strong selling points.

But, in greater part, I suppose I’m joining because I’m tired of trying to define my identity around being the kind of person who does not join the Junior League. Really. I’ve been telling my mother for years that I wasn’t going to join. Because I’m an intellectual in a bikini.  Or something. Something like that.

Regular readers of TheGloss probably know that I came from a pretty conservative town. I spent most of my childhood wandering around a country club gnawing on peanut butter and banana sandwiches. Like an animal. A monkey, I guess? Look, let me stress: my family is amazing, and there are far, far worse hardships than being forced to take a lot of tennis lessons as a kid. I think knowing how to make a martini is a life skill, and I stand by that. But, suffice to say, the Junior League was a big thing. So was being a republican. In high school. 

So, when not working on my backhand, all I did was watch Daria, read Jane, and dream about a day when I’d move to New York and be around all these smart, forward thinking democrats who also spent their childhood watching Daria and reading Jane.

I don’t think that was a bad thing. I think being open to and interested in people with lifestyles different than your own is pretty much always a good, eye-opening thing. And that did actually happen, so it worked out.

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  • Kimberly @ Twen-Teen

    I love Daria. That’s all.

  • Sarah!

    I have to admit, I regret not joining a sorority in college. I only didn’t do it because I thought I was Daria too, and that I was above all that. But I love drinking while dressed up? And it would be nice to have connections to people now.

    Also, the vanilla Lindts are pretty good!

  • kjon

    Wow, now this is freaky… I literally just sent Junior League of Denver my info on Sunday. And I didn’t join a sorority because I thought I was GDI (Goddamn independent). And I love Daria.

    Are we real people?

    • Jennifer Wright

      I’ve been avoiding saying this for obvious reasons, but I’m pretty sure we’re both just parts of a replicant hive mind.

    • Amy

      I just joined the Junior League of Edmonton a few months ago! It’s not a really well-known thing in Canada like it is in the States so it doesn’t have a reputation as anything other than a women’s networking group that does a lot of charity work.

  • Emily Chapman

    I am in a sorority in college and I basically was Daria as a wee tiny high schooler. My sisters dig my combat boots and it does give me an excuse to screen print my own shirts and drink in new and interesting places.

    My mother was less concerned about the Daria than she is about the sorority. Oh, strange rebellions.

  • mary

    Joining a sorority was probably the worst decision I have ever made. That was seven years ago and I still avoid close female friendships. Yuck.

  • Jamie Peck

    On the one hand, I appreciate your honesty about your reasons. On the other hand, I’m worried you’ll turn into a Stepford wife (w. well-argued justifications of course) and the half of you that enables you to be friends with people like me will disappear forevs. That said, I hope you learn to like volunteering. I’d do it with you if it weren’t the Jun-yah League.

  • MR

    You’ll fit right in – you always dress like that or have I missed something? From a guy’s perspective, I don’t think a woman should be afraid to dress like that – oh, and volunteer as side bar. But, not for Romney – up 2 pts in Florida, Ohio and Iowa, and 1 pt in Wisconsin in the latest polls. Can I talk politics with you when you eat your ‘tella? – I’ll let you decide if that’s before or after my donation. :)

  • Sam

    As much as I think organizations that require dues (as many Junior Leagues do) in order to do something that a person could easily do for free, like volunteer, are incredibly silly, the optimist in me thinks that it’s just good that people are doing…well, good.

    • Sam

      By the way, I don’t think the people receiving assistance from volunteers are upset or uncomfortable at the volunteers themselves; in my experience, they’re often upset simply because it can feel awkward, embarrassing, and deeply saddening to rely on other people because you presently are in a situation where you can’t be independent. I mean, yes, it sucks to prepare food in a hairnet all day or see people who are in pretty bad states, and it surely sucks more for the people who have to rely on this, but it’s still a necessary thing to exist right now.

      Volunteers are, unfortunately, integral given how terrible the economy is, the high rates of unemployment and homelessness, etc… so even if it totally sucks and isn’t an especially fun activity, it’s a good thing to do anyway! So I think it’s rad that you did it in the first place. :)

    • Astrid

      For the record, Junior League dues go towards volunteer training. Lack of volunteer training is why most volunteers volunteer once and never come back. Trained volunteers are also most likely to donate and do so on a regular basis.

  • Elizabeth

    I rejected the tennis lessons on the grounds that I hated tennis because it embarrassed me when my mother would pick me up from school in her shorty white tennis skirt.

    Now that I reflect on the fact that all the tennis she plays means my mother at 60 still has the legs for that shorty white tennis skirt, I kind of wish maybe I’d gotten into tennis.

  • EKS

    I plan to join JLB (Baltimore) in the next class. I started pondering it a couple years ago but it wasn’t the right time. Now that my husband and I are going to be here for a long time, I’m really looking forward to it. And like you and a few other commenters, I was into Daria in high school, and wanted to rush but didn’t. Have you joined a class yet?

  • Sun Connor

    Thanks for the post!
    I didn’t know much about the Junior League of Austin until a couple
    of years ago. For the past two years, I’ve done my own research and realized there were a number of opportunities within the organization to volunteer on committees and/or help women and children within the community. AND due to my “Social Awkwardness” it’s hard for me to volunteer on my own. I’d like to join the LEAGUE in an attempt to “Do Good” in our community. (and pastries!)