It’s January and I’m scrolling around on my younger sister’s Facebook timeline. She’s posted her sorority’s bid day video and I click to be supportive. Twelve minutes go by and I’ve already cried twice. I message her about how emotional I felt watching the video. All of the talk of sisterhood and support for each other and realize I really wish I had been in a Sorority.
Most people who know me would probably be shocked that one of my larger regrets from Undergrad was not pledging. It doesn’t seem like a logical desire for someone like me. I went to the New School, which is home of Social Justice and avant grade expression. I did my senior thesis in poetry for fuck’s sake. But there was always a yearning to have a large group of girls to surround myself with. I never seemed to have a ton of people to always hang out with. That’s the trade off when you go to a City School; everyone is off doing their own thing and trying to make it. I admire that wholeheartedly, but it can get really lonely when all of your friends are off in a million places.
When I was in Middle and High School I was in BBG. BBG is B’nai Brith’s Youth Group for High Schoolers, and I was Chapter President for two years. I loved planning programs; I loved any Sisterhood event that involved candles and crying. I got to use my creativity and inventiveness to come up with cheers and skits and make cool t-shirts.
There is always negative press about Greek life with all of its horror stories. They are completely valid and there are some complete sociopaths that pledge. While that may be some people’s experiences in the Panhellenic system, it is not the rule. I left BBG because of some petty girl falling out involving me giving my chapter over to some girl to lead because I though she’d do a better job and she wasn’t nice to me about it. Shit happens. Girls aren’t always great to each other. Some sororities really do outline your fat and put you on a washing machine. You pick yourself up, cry a little, most likely drop the sorority and become even more of a bad bitch than you were before. Either way being in a sorority had shaped you in some form.
On the other side you could find women that completely understand you and make you feel complete; women that make you a better person and shape the rest of your life. I’ve seen people very close to me rise up and discover their personal strengths and do more good in the world than they would have without that guidance. Everyone wants to try and change things in the world, hopefully. A sorority often provides established resources where you can stop talking about doing something and actually get it done.
What people fail to realize when they stereotype sororities is that you will probably find a wider variety of viewpoints there, than anywhere else on a college campus. Not everyone is the same blonde, white, Lilly Pulitzer wearing girl from the South. Not everyone outside of a sorority is making a totally diverse friend group where all ages, backgrounds, and sexualities are represented. Looking for that on purpose actually tokenizes people and is fucked up within itself. In a sorority everyone goes through the drama of getting a bid, then pledging. Everyone has been there and shared your experience and can offer advice. There will always be someone to answer the phone for you at 3 am. That’s a really hard guarantee when you’re making friends on your own in the wild. Sure you can have a handful of close friends, but will you have 20 people you can call who have stood in heels in the snow with you in order to get a bid?
The entire process of pledging a sorority tests your endurance and limits. In the Midwest pledging can happen in the winter. You will be expected to visit all 30 plus houses. There is a dress code and you will be standing around for hours waiting to go inside houses wearing heels and a dress when its below freezing. You are forced to look at what you consider your strengths and weaknesses and how you normally interact with people. Things like your missions in life and how you would solve problems. I would say a good amount of 18 year olds have never had to think about those things unless they’ve been in therapy.
Being in a sorority does mature you, even though the stereotypes of everyone being a childish bitch seem to persist. You have to learn how to resolve conflicts and make sacrifices for the good of a larger group. Every woman plays a role in making the chapter run smoother. Getting wrapped up in petty bullshit often ends up affecting everyone negatively. Other girls won’t join if your chapter is falling apart at the seams because everyone hates each other. No one will do programs with you if you can’t even agree on a theme. A Sorority teaches cooperation on a level that you will only find in a hospital or on a battlefield.
Joining a Sorority can be a bit of a crapshoot in terms of the experience that you get out of it. However, everywhere else is just as dysfunctional, and it is up to you to take responsibility for how you deal with it. Sometimes you have bad judgment in befriending people who turn out to steal your stuff and belittle you. Because that happened or has happened to others it doesn’t mean that you’re going to stop trying to make friends. I wish that I had a group always on standby to distract me from the overall shittiness of life. I wish that I had other girls to be around where we just knew we were sisters and their arms were always open to me. Female friendship and emotion is one of the most beautiful things to share. I wish I had in my adult life another place to share things like that with a large group of women. I wish that I wouldn’t be judged for regretting that I didn’t join a Sorority.