To read the first part in my saga of pledging as an adult, click here.
After my visit to the Junior League for their first unofficial recruitment event, I knew I had to be a part of it. I had recently moved for school to a university that didn’t have my chapter, and what better way to get my daily social interaction quota than by pledging an adult sorority? Rushing Junior League provided me with all of the benefits of being in a sorority (dozens of pictures in pastel dresses at wine mixers) with none of the negatives (drinking hunch punch in a grungy fraternity basement). To say I finally felt at home was the understatement of the century.
I pulled into a parking lot full of Lexuses and white Range Rovers and got ready to put my best Louboutin-clad foot forward to meet my new best friends. I entered a room full of 150 gorgeous girls in name tags, clutching plastic cups of white wine, and this is when it really hit me that I’m rushing again. Somehow, as an adult, I had to stand out among this crowd of young women, but unlike in Greek recruitment, this was different. A quick glance around the room led me to estimate that approximately 99 percent of these women had been through recruitment before and knew exactly what they were doing. There was no leg up — there was only impressing the actives and hoping that no one else had picked the same Lilly shift dress as me.
Although I was dying to meet the girls who may soon be in my “prospective new member class,” my future pledge sisters could wait — this night belonged to the actives and showing them that I was worthy of joining their ranks. I floated around the room, giving out compliments on hairstyles and shoes, and flaunting my volunteer accomplishments. After socializing my heart out, all of the PNMs were summoned into a room for our official recruitment meeting. I carefully picked my seat in the second row to show I was eager but not too eager just as the lights dimmed.
If I thought my sorority recruitment days were over, I have clearly never been more wrong. A recruitment slideshow started playing, and I realized that I still had plenty of years left to wear formal dresses and blow glitter at cameras. My heart swelled as I watched all of these young women volunteer and laugh while constantly holding wine glasses. Finally, I would be able to day drink with a group of hundreds of women without having to try to subvert campus police. As the recruitment video came to an end, I almost felt a tear come to my eye. The Junior League was the sorority I had always wanted to pledge.
Of course, the recruitment video served its purpose — to make us want to join, no matter the cost. Unfortunately for us, our Recruitment Chair (or “New Member Coordinator”) was about to let us know just exactly what that cost was going to be. Our RC began a slideshow that she made sure to let us know was confidential, as it contained information about dues, and out of reverence as a previous RC myself, I knew I would keep my mouth shut. Just as in chapters of a national sorority, Junior League dues vary from location to location. While we were originally given a low 3-figure number as our annual amount for dues, this number is accompanied by many other mandatory contributions. Between paying for donations, raising money for our charity, and purchasing a ticket to what is essentially our adult formal, I was back to looking at my old sorority’s chapter dues. Perhaps worst of all, I doubt I could call my father as a supposed independent woman and ask him to foot the bill one more time.
Of course, pledging isn’t just about throwing wads of money at a chapter, although that is certainly an aspect of it. In lieu of being an on-call sober sister, I would be volunteering on a committee, volunteering extra hours at our charity, and attending monthly courses that will educate me on just how to be a proper Junior League lady, which brought back flashbacks of the etiquette classes I had to endure as a nervous freshman. This, of course, is on top of monthly chapter meetings and mandatory social events. While a little overwhelmed, I began furiously scribbling dates in my Lilly planner and saw that, while I’ll be spending a significant amount of time on Junior League activities, I could certainly pull it off.
After laying out all of our obligations, our Recruitment Chair began to lay out the next steps. The next morning, we should look for an e-mail telling us whether or not we’ve been selected to put in an application to become a member of the Junior League. That’s right, you have to be selected to apply. And then after submitting our applications, we would again be informed of our selection status for the Junior League. In less than a week, I would find out if I made the cut to go from PNM to pledge.
The slideshow ended, and I socialized until the remaining actives locked the door behind me. I may have looked like a try hard, but I was going to get that bid — of that I was convinced. I fell asleep like a kid on Christmas Eve, hoping I would wake up to a shiny new invitation to apply to the Junior League in my stocking. Sure enough, the next morning, I checked my e-mail and saw that I had managed to make if off of the naughty list after all, as I had been issued an invitation to apply to become a member of one of the nation’s most prestigious organizations. I quickly opened it and delved right in.
Name? Easy. Job? Check. Address? No problem. I flew through the fill-in-the-blank questions with ease, sure that I was killing the game. That is until I got to the short answer questions.
• Why do you want to become a member of the Junior League?
• What will you bring to our organization?
• How do you exemplify the Junior League’s primary characteristic of voluntarism in the community?
…shit. I realized after a first draft that my honest answer to these questions probably wouldn’t work for the application.
I would love to become a member of the Junior League because I need to expand my #squad to include more rich bitches I can drink and judge people with. I’ll bring plenty of wine and low-calorie baked goods to your organization, and I promise not to talk about the legacies behind their backs too much, which basically makes me the best at giving back.
No, that wouldn’t work. I somehow managed to flounder my way through the questions, making myself sound like a somewhat presentable human instead of a judgmental status-whore, hoped it was good enough, and hit submit. Three days of obsessively checking my e-mail came and went, and then I finally got the response I had been waiting for.
My Recruitment Chair had believed my answers, and I had been issued an invitation to join the Junior League.
Finally, at twenty-five years old, I was a pledge again. I happily paid my dues, knowing that this time around, I couldn’t technically say I wasn’t paying for my friends. However, a year’s worth of dues for a new group of friends is a small price to pay for what I’ll be gaining in workout buddies and Instagram likes. I was informed that I would be assigned a sponsor, who is an active member that would help me to navigate the new member process throughout the upcoming year. That’s right — I’m even getting a Big. While in my own family tree, I’m something like a great-great-great-grandbig, in just a few weeks, I would become a Little all over again at a special sponsor event. While I couldn’t wait to meet my future Big (sorry, old Big), I signed up for as many upcoming events as I could, ready to stalk my future pledge sisters and best friends on Insta.
What will the next year hold? I’ll let you know as soon as I find out, but in the meantime, I finally have a bid from a real-life adult sorority. I broke out my credit card and hopped on over to the Lilly website because the one thing I DO know is that I see plenty of new events in my future — events that call for new clothes..