I am the first woman to go Greek in my family, and now as the completion of my undergraduate education nears, I’m still not entirely sure my immediate family has grasped the concept. I took a lot of heat all over the board when I decided to go through sorority recruitment, and I would hardly consider myself the stereotypical Elle Woods-eqsue sorority girl that’s all over the media.
So I questioned. Should I be doing this? Will I be able to find a home?
I went through recruitment because I just wanted to test the waters, and if it was meant to be it would be. I made it to bid day, and was suddenly surrounded by a hundred or so women who were all so excited to meet me…and I was terrified. However, I was sold on the concept a few weeks later, when I looked around the room during chapter and I realized how deeply rooted in my heart each woman had already become.
Certainly, I get quizzical looks and comments such as “oh, you don’t seem like you’d be in a sorority,” or more hurtful shots like “why would you pay for your friends?”…but these are the questions that open doors. These give me the chance to tell you about awards we’ve won, our cumulative GPA, and the thousands of hours we have used giving back to the community. Most importantly, it gives me the chance to tell stories about these women who will tear up the stage alone at a social with me, be there for me in the middle of the night when I am laughing or crying, or will sing along to the blaring radio on the way to a shopping trip for who knows what.
And so, I give you, ten things my sisters have taught me.
1. Never judge a book by its cover.
I thought my emotional baggage was surely my own, that no one could understand what it’s like to have a strange dating history and an even stranger family dynamic. But when you think you’re all alone, there you find the helpers, who have gone through more than you could ever imagine.
2. It’s completely okay to take a mental health day.
If you want to throw a good chunk of your meal plan down on random snacks, hang out in the common room and watch movies all day…count me in. I have learned to love myself more than I ever thought possible, and learn to give back to myself in order to recharge my batteries.
3. Supporting each other makes true community.
My sisters love to support each other like crazy. We’ve gone to sporting events, senior recitals, plays, musicals, and academic speakers, among others. I decided to start a bible study in my chapter at the start of my sophomore year, and several of my sisters immediately stepped up to the plate to get the process flowing and to co-lead with me.
4. Call each other out on the BS.
Life’s too short to bottle up your feelings and have bitterness in your life. Reach out a hand, and start a conversation about what is bothering you. (P.S., wear yoga pants to conversations that are meant to resolve conflict, they are comfy but you look put together and serious.)
5. Dream bigger.
Want to study abroad? Go somewhere you’ve never thought of before. That guy in your class is being distant and not texting you back? He’s not worth a second of your time. Your sisters will fly with you to the highest of heights, and catch you when you’re feeling the lowest. You can get into that reach graduate school. You can get that job with the company you love. All things are possible.
6. Every closet needs a few staple items.
My major falls into the humanities field, which translates into me mostly wearing sweatpants to class (like any sane individual). So when interview season rolled around for the first time, and I was absolutely helpless about the differences between “business casual” and “business professional,” one of my sisters came to my rescue and walked me through my closet to sort out options.
7. The cheers and chants will make you feel awkward, but also more alive that ever before.
You are tired, cold, and confident that it is much too early for Greek Week sporting events. Suddenly however, you are running up and down the field like a coach cheering on your sisters, and rejoicing after every play no matter the result. It is the power of being together, and united for a common purpose, that will take the sting out of any time of day.
8. Heels suck.
Taking them off in the local Jimmy Johns after a long night out is moderately socially acceptable.
9. You’ll be surprised by how much you’ll do for people you hardly know, and how much they’ll do for you.
When I first joined, the older pledge classes wrote all over my Facebook wall about how excited they were to meet me, and get to know me. I couldn’t conceptualize how over a hundred women could be so ramped up to meet little old me! Everyone I met was actually interested by what I had to say, and I loved learned about their life paths too!
10. There is a home for everyone.
I only had one younger brother growing up, and no extended family close by. Therefore, I made my own family from groups of friends that would endlessly wander in and out of my house. Being in a sorority created that same atmosphere, that I am able to drop by four different off-campus houses filled with my sisters on my walk home from classes and join in on their conversations seamlessly. I found my heart and my home in my sorority, and both have grown so much because of these women.
Not sure about joining a sorority? Have something against Greek Life? I urge you to give the system another try. I hope you meet one of my sisters along the way, because they are the best there is.