The first weekend of my second semester of college, I suspect I broke some sort of flirting record. The number of girls I flirted with over the course of two days exceeded the total number of people I’ve flirted with (of any gender) in my entire life. Welcome to sorority rush.

I went to each of my school’s nine sorority houses, made small talk with prospective “sisters,” and at the end of each day, we ranked one another. It was very stressful and exhausting, and I know I wasn’t the only one to completely lose my voice and shed some tears along the way.

Okay, so maybe rush was not the greatest experience of my life — I didn’t actually end up joining a sorority — but I learned some valuable life lessons, mostly about how to date and flirt, along the way.

1. Be yourself.

Although I wasn’t a theater major, I’m a big theater nerd. I know singing “Rent” at the top of your lungs at parties and spending nights building sets isn’t everyone’s cup of tea, but it’s definitely mine. At some point during rush, I questioned whether I should bring up my passion at a few of the houses where the girls seemed much more into other things. The answer is of course, and I did. Theater is a big part of my life, and I didn’t want to spend the next three and a half years pretending it wasn’t. Just like you don’t want to change yourself to make your date like you, you don’t want to lie about who you are to make a group of girls accept you.

2. Make that the best version of yourself.

Yes, I have spent many full days in sweatpants binge-watching “Orange Is The New Black” and doing the bare minimum of schoolwork. That makes me human. It’s also not necessarily the first impression I want to give. During rush I was fighting with my roommate, so when a girl at one of the houses mentioned her, I started venting. I regretted that immediately — I didn’t want the first characteristics someone assigned to me to be pettiness or talking behind my friends’ backs. I wasn’t invited back to that house, and I wasn’t surprised. There’s no need to hide who you truly are, but let someone get to know the good parts of you first so then they can decide if they’ll excuse your flaws. I’d rather leave a first date knowing I showed off my sense of humor than given away my anxiety.

3. There’s more to small talk than “where are you from?”

By the second day of rush, I started to feel a bit like a robot. “I haven’t declared my major.” “I grew up in New York City.” “I live in Sadler Hall.” Repeating the same information over and over gets exhausting. While most people don’t go on upward of 30 first dates in a day (though if you do, power to you!), the what-do-you-do-and-where-are-you-from conversations still become repetitive. Endless small talk forced me to come up with more creative questions so as to fuel better conversations. Some of my favorites include asking about childhood nicknames and how people take their coffee. One girl asked me, “If you were a piece of furniture, what would you be?” I still don’t have an answer, but I appreciated the creativity.

4. Rebound from rejection.

Whether it’s from a college, a job, a sorority, or a person you like, rejection sucks, plain and simple. And while it may have taken a Herculean effort, rushing forced me to be resilient when it came to rejection and accept that there are many other options out there. In terms of sororities, eight others, but in terms of dating, infinite possibilities. Even though I was rejected from sororities I liked, I didn’t have time to wallow, because I had to go meet more girls from other sororities the very next day. After a bad date or the end of a relationship, you likely have a little more breathing room, but one sure way to not get a bid or meet a cool new person is not to show up at all. Which leads us to…

5. Give people a chance.

Some of the nicest girls I met were in sororities that had not-so-nice reputations. I also got invited back to a couple of houses I wasn’t sure about. But since I’d only met a handful of girls on day one, I showed up with an open mind on day two and was pleasantly surprised. Those of us who were rushing and those already in the sorority made crafts for charity together, and the designs I created during this activity attracted others who share my love of art.

With app dating, we don’t have a lot to go on when we choose whether to Like or Nope, but now, before I Nope because of one questionable line in a profile, I try to see if perhaps I misread something or the person hints at other redeeming qualities. The same is true on dates themselves. A few years ago, I met a guy at a party who I thought was cute, but I figured we didn’t have much in common. I’m an artist, he works in finance and is several years older than me. Still, I agreed to go on a date with him and learned more about his interests. It turns out we both run marathons and love board games. And furthermore, I discovered new interests, like pub trivia and craft beer, through him. He ended up becoming my first boyfriend.

6. Keep your head up.

Easier said than done when there are literally hundreds of girls competing for a much smaller number of spots, but remember, not everyone is looking for the same thing. One house may be more interested in preppy girls while another is looking for party animals and another might put serious emphasis on GPA. Likewise, individuals have different tastes in romantic partners, and there are absolutely going to be people you don’t attract. That’s primarily a reflection on them, not you.

7. Hold out for what feels right.

I did end up getting a bid for a sorority, and it wasn’t one of the ones I wanted. Still, I went to bid day and gave it a chance. Although I liked a lot of the girls, I didn’t really vibe with the house, and I ended up not joining a sorority at all. Instead, I participated in drama clubs and the JV ski team, and even ended up joining a coed community service fraternity my sophomore year. Some of my fondest memories are with my fraternity brothers, and I’m so glad I waited for the right opportunity instead of settling for something that my heart knew wasn’t a good fit for me. Now, when I have a streak of not-so-great dates (a not-so-rare occurrence), I try to stay patient and remind myself that a better person will come along if I hang tight keep putting myself out there.