One fact about me that many people find surprising is that I was in a sorority in college. With my strict 10 pm bedtime, aversion to alcohol, and general awkwardness, I don’t exactly fit that good ole’ “sorority girl” stereotype. Granted, I was in a sorority at a small, liberal arts school, so most of our sororities were less big-mansions-with-hundreds-of-hot-blondes and more nerdy-awkward-liberal-arts-majors.
While I don’t feel as though sorority life defined my college career, it was definitely something that I needed while I was in college. As a relationship-oriented person, relationships are what help to keep me happy and comfortable anywhere that I am, and I was not popular in college. I was so excited to make new friends when I left home, but when I got to campus, I found that I was scared and alone. My entire freshman year, I struggled to find people that I clicked with. By the end of my freshman year, I was distraught at the idea of coming back to campus in the fall only to be lonely again. I knew that I needed to meet some new people. Fast. I started working in orientation, which gave me a small network, but that network was mainly comprised of upperclassmen who had their own friends already.
When I came back to campus my sophomore year, I was determined to meet some new people. As a sophomore, I was eligible to go through sorority recruitment, and I could think of no better way to meet a bunch of potential friends all at once. My best friend from high school, who was a year older than me, had gone through recruitment and joined a sorority, and she seemed to feel more at home on her own college campus. So, why not give it a shot?
Recruitment was a whirlwind. I saw hundreds of new faces over the span of one week, and I really enjoyed it. I already felt so much more at home on campus after having the opportunity to meet a bunch of new potential friends. The two things that are pretty true to the sorority stereotype is recruitment and bid day. If those words evoke images of a bunch of jumping, dancing, hugging, screaming girls, then you’ve got it right. And I loved every second of it. I worked in orientation, for crying out loud! I lived for cheesy songs and ice breakers.
Immediately after bid day, new member education starts, and during that time, you’re seeing your potential new sisters several nights a week. New member education takes up a lot of time, and during those weeks, it can be easy to feel overwhelmed by how much time you’re dedicating to the sorority. I remember hearing one senior tell us as new members that we would miss new member education once it was over. Honestly, she wasn’t wrong. Just as you get used to seeing the same faces most days of the week, you all are in the sorority and back to your normal schedules. You miss all of the people you were once forced to hang out with. While being in a sorority itself is not like one massive sleepover, new member education kind of is, and who wants sleepovers to end?
Sorority life gave me a bunch of sisters when I didn’t have any biological siblings, as cheesy as that sounds. I didn’t click with every single woman in my sorority, of course, but I was still introduced to so many amazing women that I may not have met! The sorority even gave me a home my junior fall semester before I went abroad. I stayed in a house with three other sisters. It was nice to know that I had somewhere to go and my sisters to turn to when I wasn’t sure where I was going to live.
One of my favorite parts of being in a sorority was the opportunity for mentorship. As an underclassman going through new member education, you choose a “big sister,” who has been in the sorority for a while and can guide you. Then, as an upperclassman, you choose a “little sister” who is an underclassman going through new member education. As a sophomore just joining the sorority, I was excited to choose a big sister, but even more excited to choose a little sister in the upcoming years. If this blog has proven anything to you, it should be that I love to advise and theorize and, most importantly, to hear myself talk. Since I had struggled in college as an underclassman, all I wanted was a younger person to help and guide. I couldn’t wait!
When Big/Little week did come, I was matched with a woman who I had clicked really well with. She wasn’t supposed to know that I was her Big during that week, and knowing that I would probably ruin the surprise, I panicked and dodged her the entire week. However, she probably has enough mini M&M’s to last for the rest of her life! Emma Jane is amazing, and I’m so grateful to have the privilege of knowing her and being her Big.
Ironically, she is also the most independent and stubborn person that I know, so she’s not at all the type of person that I could mentor to death. She’s my little who hates surprises and then gets mad at me when she actually likes a surprise that I send her. She’s my little who was offended when I bought stuffed animals for her littles without getting her one. She’s my little who punched me in the boob because I picked up the tab for her first meal as a sorority sister. I remember staying with her on campus one weekend after I graduated. We independently went about our lives and occasionally would stop to chat about anything and everything for hours. And to think, we may never have met if we didn’t join a sorority.
My senior year, given that I am never able to pass up an opportunity for mentorship, I even served as a Recruitment Guide for sophomores going through recruitment. I was excited to have the opportunity to go through recruitment again and see it through young, excited eyes. I was prepared to help other women not feel overwhelmed by a week that could easily be overwhelming. Plus, I got the opportunity to connect with another lovely senior recruitment guide from a different sorority. It was a fantastic way to close out my college career.
Greek life isn’t for everyone. In fact, before I went to college, I was sure that it wouldn’t be for me! But it turned out that it was exactly what I needed to kickstart my social life in college. Greek life was one of my first steps in making my college campus my home, and I met some wonderful women who are now lifelong friends.
Photography by my talented fiancé. You can find him on Instagram at https://www.instagram.com/hope_grows_here/