Hey friends! Today, I felt like sitting down and writing about how I ended up in a sorority. I think the stories like mine are really important in the grand scheme of Greek life, because a lot of people like me don’t ever join for thinking that they don’t belong. That’s what I thought, too. But that’s why I want to shed some light on my experience. Storytelling is a powerful tool for empathy and for change, and with both of those things in mind, I want to talk about this really vital piece of the puzzle that is my college experience.
In order to explain the whole story, we’re going to need to take it back a bit…to the summer of 2017, when I first moved to college.
I was on vacation in Oregon with my dad’s whole side of the family — aunts, uncles, cousins, and grandparents included. One afternoon, I was chatting with one of my older cousins, who had just graduated from college. She had been in a sorority at her university and loved it, and she wanted to know if I was rushing, too.
I pretty much laughed it off when she asked me, thinking that she couldn’t be serious. Me? A sorority? Not. A. Chance. You couldn’t pay me to join an organization where everyone clapped along as they sang annoyingly energetic songs from inside their big fancy house on Greek Row. In my opinion, Greek life was for the self-absorbed, party-crazy girls who had belonged to the “it-crowd” in high school. And of those three criteria, I fit zero.
Of course, I didn’t say any of these things to my cousin because, well, I love my cousin! I politely told her that I didn’t think it was for me. But, she wasn’t dissuaded so easily, and she began telling me about all the reasons that she loved Greek life so much — all the reasons that I should join.
She talked about leadership and networking and personal growth and life-long friends and a sense of belonging. She talked about things that didn’t sound too bad. She also told me about the not-so-shiny things, like people she didn’t get along with well and things that went too far. And I appreciated her honesty. She acknowledged that my preconceptions about Greek life came from a realistic place, but she also made sure that I knew how much more there was to it than that.
Believe it or not, she had sparked my interest. Before we even left Oregon, I was on my laptop looking at the Panhellenic website for my new university. I watched the chapters’ recruitment videos on YouTube and thought, “Wow, that actually looks pretty fun.” I followed all nine sororities on Instagram so that I could hopefully gain an idea of what they were about. I tried to envision myself as a part of any one of them.
Flash forward a few more weeks, and after hearing that my soon-to-be roommate (and only college friend) would be rushing once we got to school, I began to seriously think that maybe I should, too. After all, she was the only person I knew upon moving away from home, so the last thing that I wanted to do was sit in my dorm by myself for the whole first week of school while she was out doing exciting things and making new friends. So, with a last final push from FOMO, I signed up for recruitment.
I spent my last weeks of summer Googling photos of the school’s sorority houses, planning my outfits for recruitment, and constantly asking my mom and little sister for reassurance that I wasn’t making a mistake by rushing. And when the time finally came for the madness to begin, I just went for it. I put on my best clothes and my best smile and tried to give the process a fair shot. Some days I felt completely out of place and overwhelmed; other days I felt like there were actually a lot of genuine girls — normal girls like me — who were Greek.
On the third day of recruitment, at a chapter I didn’t actually know much about, I met two girls that I absolutely loved. One was so hilarious that I instantly knew she and I could be friends. The other was an absolute sweetheart and made me feel so welcome. I truly enjoyed my time with both of them, and it was the best experience I’d had yet.
When I returned to that chapter the next night, I met another really awesome girl. We got along super well and I was sad to leave at the end of it. Needless to say, I had really started considering that this house could be the place for me. If I could meet three consecutive girls there who were real, genuine, great people, maybe I could be a part, too.
On the final night of recruitment, I had narrowed down my choices to that house (which had become my favorite) and one other. I went to the favorite first, and I had such a good time! I spent the evening with the really funny girl that I had connected so well with, who was named Aria. She already felt like a big sister to me. I was laughing and smiling and feeling like I had already made friends there. Afterwards, when I went to the second house, I was actually bored. I felt disconnected and like I really just wanted to go back to the first one! I was just counting down the minutes until I could quit making small talk and go make my decision.
At the end of that night, I felt really confident that I had made a good choice. Although I was still a bit wary of Greek life as a whole, I felt like picking that specific house was a great first step.
I woke up the next morning anxious and excited to see which house gave me a bid. When I met my rush group leader, she gave me my bid card and waited patiently as I opened the envelope. The first thing I saw on the card was the name of the house I had fallen in love with! I gave my leader a hug, thanked her for all her support and guidance throughout the week, and awaited the time to run to my new home!
After some more Panhellenic recruitment festivities in the quad, I finally got to head over to the chapter house that was now mine. The first person I saw when I got there was Aria, and she gave me a big hug and said that she was so excited that I was there.
That really meant more to me than I can explain. The fact that somebody intentionally wanted me to be a part and saw me as a valuable addition, despite the fact that I thought I would never fit in, changed the way I looked at Greek life. If girls like Aria were in sororities, I knew that I could be, too.
Aria introduced me to my “bid day buddy,” or the person who would stick with me for the day to help me feel comfortable and meet some more people. Her name was Montana. Montana got me my bid day t-shirt, took cute pictures with me, and hung out with me the whole day. I really liked her! She was super down-to-earth and funny and kind. She and I instantly clicked.
It’s so weird talking about her like that now, because she’s definitely not a stranger to me anymore. In fact, she’s my big!
I went home that afternoon feeling all kinds of things. I was really happy that I ended up in a place that made me feel like I was valued and included, and I was so glad I’d get to keep those new friends I’d made during recruitment. But I was still nervous about partying, alcohol, and hook-up culture. I decided to just take it one day at a time, and for day #1, it was a pretty good experience.
Throughout the next several weeks, I went back and forth a lot about wanting to stay in the sorority. I saw a lot of the things that had deterred me from wanting to join in the first place, and I felt that because I didn’t participate in those things, people didn’t like me. It got overwhelming really quickly. But, for some reason, I stuck it out for the year, and as I made those friends who were more like me, it got better and better.
Flash forward to today, and I’m living in the sorority house with my best friend as my roommate. I’m a part of it just like everyone else. And even though a lot of days it is still challenging to be different, to have a different set of opinions than the majority (read more about my journey with it in this post from last December), it is still possible, and people — at least the right people — don’t like me any less for it. I’ve grown a lot more comfortable with making up my own mind and knowing the reasons for my beliefs. While I used to feel the need to defend myself or come up with excuses as to why I didn’t want to drink or go out, I’ve become pretty unapologetic about who I am. Most importantly, I’ve become pretty unapologetic about who my God is.
That’s not to say that I don’t ever get insecure, because I definitely do. But in the moments when I hear people talking about frat-boy drama or partying too hard, I am extra thankful that I know Jesus. That I get to choose Jesus over a life of uncertainty, over a life of searching for purpose and security in anything and everything. I am extra thankful that at the end of the day, I get to be a light in my house, that I get to show them what it means to live set apart.
Whether or not they care, I don’t know. But what I do know is that God cares. Because if I won’t run back into the darkest of places with the freedom that I’ve found, who will?