“Good luck” I texted my best friend as she got ready for her first day of formal recruitment.
She had left me a few days before. For the past seven years of our lives, we were inseparable. From classes, to adventures, lying to our parents, and dealing with broken hearts, we were with each other every step of the way. When we both agreed to go to the same college, I knew that we would be friends forever, it was just meant to be.
And then she decided to rush a sorority. She told me a month or so into the summer, and begged me to do it with her.
“It will be fun!” She said. “I want to make sure I have friends and meet hot guys there.” She added.
I thought about it. What would it mean? Could I do it? Should I do it? I had seen the movies. I had read the articles. I had watched the news reports about these stereotypical Greeks “doing good” in their communities and then getting smashed as soon as the cameras were off. I wasn’t skinny. I didn’t think I was pretty. I knew that I wouldn’t get a bid.
So I said “no.”
I spent the next twelve months watching my best friend find her home in one of the most prestigious sororities in the nation. I watched her post pictures to Facebook, flashing her dumb “symbol,” and I got pissed when she couldn’t do something because she had chapter. I would cringe when she would hang out at my place wearing her letters, and I avoided her texts when she asked me to come watch movies with her “at the house.” I didn’t think I knew who she was anymore. She was suddenly talking about paddles, jerseys, and formals, and I couldn’t relate.
So I stopped trying.
I starting avoiding the people in my life who had “gone Greek.” I didn’t want to be associated with people who thought it was cool to get drunk on a Tuesday, and I hated the way all of these random girls became “sisters.” I grew frustrated that my best friend always knew someone in a class or at a restaurant, and I hated the way I would sit in my dorm room day after day, watching television and ignoring the phone calls from my friends. The longer I ignored them, the less calls I got.
I became lonely. And jealous. And miserable.
So I stopped trying. Luckily for me, my best friend didn’t. Despite my cold shoulder, my judgement, and my envy, she didn’t stop trying. She didn’t give up. And then one day, I gave in. I can’t tell you why. Maybe I was fighting with my boyfriend, or maybe she was really convincing that day. It could have been because my television broken, but honestly? I think I was just tired of being lonely. So when she asked me to stop by her sorority house, I finally agreed.
When I stepped into the ornate foyer, I was shocked. Not by the beautiful decor or the number of rooms, but by the people I saw. Girls who looked just like me were lounging around, laughing and joking. They were wearing sweatpants and had their hair in messy, greasy buns. Their unpolished toes were flopped over couches and they were helping themselves to cookies as they read books and texted their friends. One girl glanced up from her phone and flashed me a warm smile. They were normal. They were nice. They were real. I was still in shock as my best friend popped out around the corner.
“Hi! You came! I want to introduce you to my big.”
And just like that, I got it. I quickly became friends with her big and her grand-big. I went out with her family. I cried with her twin. I hung out at her “house” in my sweatpants, and I ate cookies with her sisters while watching television instead of going to the bar. I felt like I belonged even though I didn’t. Even though I wasn’t one of them. Even though I wasn’t their sister, they treated me like I was.
I saw who these beautiful, stereotypical, “fake” girls really were. They were just like me.
The next fall, I decided to go through recruitment. After a long week of making small talk, sweating more than I thought possible, and feeling like giving up, I had made it. As Bid Day arrived I held the envelope with my sorority’s name close to me. What would it say? Where would I go? Did anyone really like me enough?
As we were all given the okay to open our futures, my hands started shaking. This was it. I pulled out the thick piece of paper and saw the crest that will now be a part of me for the rest of my life. I read my name, and felt tears well up in my eyes as an old, honorable organization expressed their desire to have me join them.
They wanted me to be their sister.
I ran home that day into the arms of my future big sister. I met girls who were like me. They were silly and weird and they didn’t always comb out their hair and half (okay more than half) of the time they hated going to the gym. They ate pizza and laughed at dumb things and accepted me for who I was, not who I thought society wanted me to be. They didn’t change me. The didn’t hurt me. They didn’t want me to be anything but myself.
It was then that I fell in love with Greek life.
I am not thin. I am not a drunk. I am not rude, or judgmental, or “basic.” I don’t have to like this or look like that to fit in. I don’t haze people and I don’t get drunk every night of the week. My grades went up, not down, and I found things I loved outside of my sorority, thanks to the new support system I had. I became sisters with hundreds of women across the country. I am a sorority woman, and my only regret was not becoming one sooner.
So when you’re faced with the choice to give Greek life a chance your freshman year, I encourage you to say “yes.” From the outside looking in, you can’t imagine what it will mean to you. But from the inside looking out, there’s no way I can tell you just how many amazing things my organization has given me. Going Greek isn’t about having a great time, becoming a better person (yes, really), and making life-long friends. It’s about setting yourself up for a better future, always pushing yourself to become better, and having people by your side for the rest of your life. My best friend and I did not end up in the same organization, but the bonds of Greek life brought us even closer together. Because honestly, no matter the letters, we’re all in this together.
And if you happen to go through recruitment and decide it isn’t for you, you will have made the first step in a lifetime of taking chances. Whether or not you decide to be a sorority woman, you will have already made some friends and learned about your campus, but most of all, you will have done something brave. Something scary. Something that pushes you outside of your comfort zone. No matter the outcome, you will come out of it a better, stronger, more informed woman.
So what, exactly, are you waiting for?.