What It’s Really Like To Be In A Sorority

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I was in a sorority for about 15 minutes. I’m not really sure what drove me to it, except to say that I was married very young, and therefore divorced very young, and I probably had some sort of complex about missing out on important college experiences.

So, in one of many failed attempts to redeem myself for this error in judgment, I joined a sorority. It was embarrassing and tedious. There were so many rules, so many little phrases and terms used to discuss Important Sorority Things that meant nothing, absolutely fucking nothing, outside the chapter. There were mandatory events two or three times a week, and if you didn’t show up you were fined – as in you were charged actual money for not attending, regardless of work or class. If you weren’t dressed appropriately for certain events you were also fined. You were required to go to frat parties and were given a quota of fraternity members that you were required to talk to throughout the night.

My sisters would wax poetically about how our letters Stood For Something, but no one could ever tell me what it all meant. They used words like philanthropy and sisterhood, used adjectives like friendship and love and quality. But I couldn’t wrap my head around any of it because none of those words mean anything when the entire chapter is kicked out of a midtown restaurant for sisters getting caught doing coke in the bathrooms at 8 p.m. during a mixer.

I quit within a year, mostly because I was very close to being kicked out anyway. I never, ever attended events. I was putting myself through college and I had to work. I had a boyfriend who wasn’t in college anymore and we had better shit to do on weekends. Basically I was too good for this shit. I didn’t turn things in on time, I always paid my dues late, I called in sick to mandatory events constantly. (This is making me sound incredibly, horrifically irresponsible but to be fair, I did have mono, bronchitis, strep throat and swine flu that year, as well as that whole divorce thing.)

Everyone always wants to know about initiation, about secret handshakes and passwords, weird symbols and rituals. I’m too good of a person to squeal, except to say that they do exist and none of them, not a single one, is nearly as cool as it sounds. I’m genuinely sorry to say that every little secret anything that was involved with my sorority was a massive disappointment. There was candlelight and there were robes, but no blood or animal bones or cauldrons. Unfortunately.

Overall, it was a disaster. I hated them, they hated me, and no one was particularly quiet about it. I’m still friendly with some of my sisters, and I genuinely do like them, but we don’t spend time together unless there’s a wedding or we accidentally run into each other. I run a babysitting business now and some of them babysit for me.

On the other hand, there are maybe three or four with whom I am still very close, and I would not have met them had I not joined. And somehow, in some bizarre, unexpected twist, my involvement with my sorority significantly strengthened my relationship with my parents, mostly because they had to sign so many permission papers (yes, even though I was divorced and well over 18). I did learn some valuable skills, like public speaking and negotiation, and I suppose I was exposed to people I never would have been exposed to otherwise, although whether or not that is a positive thing remains to be seen.

And there was no hazing. Zero. Which was and is unheard of but it’s true – not even so much as a scavenger hunt. Most people are usually disappointed to hear that, but I’m thankful for it, thankful to have been a part of a sorority that didn’t participate in that bullshit.

So it wasn’t all bad – very few things actually are – but it definitely wasn’t worth it. Except for the t-shirts. If I hadn’t joined a sorority, I wouldn’t have a single thing in which to work out or sleep. I really wouldn’t. And let’s be honest, I’ll do a lot of things for a free t-shirt. TC Mark

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