I am from Texas, a huge southern state where Greek life has a certain impression attached to it. It is a land of national organizations, formal rush periods, and high heels and pearls. I can only imagine that this is why, when I mention that I am in a sorority, people back home tend to react in a confused way: because I am not the stereotypical sorority girl. The only pearls I own are plastic, and I get excited over rhetorical criticism. I don’t know how to curl my hair – nor do I have enough hair to curl – and I am bemused at the prospect of finding a date for semi-formal.
Still, I am a sorority girl. It’s not something I planned, or even wanted, but it’s something that happened, and I couldn’t be happier. I wear my letters with pride – and almost constantly – because I love that I am affiliated with such an incredible group of girls.
I didn’t always have this attitude. In fact, up until my arrival on campus, I was a Greek nay-sayer as much as some of the people who now judge me for the lavaliere around my neck. I saw the whole system as unnecessary, and I knew that I would never want to be a part of it.
College, of course, has a way of changing our viewpoints. In my case, the change was gradual, and it started with a volunteer experience at the local elementary school. As a confused freshman without a car, I found myself hitching rides with upperclassmen who graciously allowed me to sit awkwardly in their vehicles without talking for the two minute drive up the hill to the school. It was over these short rides that I got to know a few members of the sorority of which I would eventually become a member, Delta Theta Psi. The girls would chat with me as they drove the short route between our school and the elementary, trying to break me out of my shell. One of them mentioned rush, and suggested that I should attend, just to try it out, and by that point, I was inclined to agree. I was starting to realize that most of the people I looked up to on campus – my RA, and the girls whom I volunteered with – were Thetas, and I figured that worst case scenario, I would rush and not get a bid. Frankly, that was what I expected.
So I rallied a group of friends who also were on the fence about Greek life and had considered rushing, and together we headed out to the rush events. Somewhere between picnics and ice cream sundaes and awkward ice breakers, I realized that these girls were not so different from me – in fact, some of them were eerily similar. And so I started to consider the fact that, if I got a bid (which I still didn’t expect to happen), I might choose to join them.
By the third rush, when we got to talk more closely with the members in smaller groups, I was thoroughly enchanted. I was sadly resigned to the fact that, as I left that third and final rush, that would be my last experience with Theta. I figured it was for the best – I wasn’t cut out for the sorority life anyway.
The day that I received my bid was an exciting one. I was shocked but pleased, and I promptly crept over to the room of my best friend – now roommate – who had also received a bid, and together we celebrated, quietly and unobtrusively on the floor of her dorm room, so as not to be insensitive to those who had not received bids.
And then came the following weeks, during which I got bogged down with personal issues and, ultimately, made the decision to leave school early for the semester and head home. On the day that I left, as I gathered my suitcases with a certain sadness to be leaving my new friends and college life for the first time since arriving in August, I was greeted in my room by a girl whom I had met before, a friend of my RA and a member of Theta. She arrived at my door bearing poster and champagne flute, and explained, in the face of my confusion, that she was my big, and I her little.
It was an emotional moment, as my mind whirled with questions as to whether I would even be coming back, and excitement at receiving a big, and such a great one at that. In the end, I accepted the gifts and hugged her tightly, exchanging phone numbers before I went back to making sure that I had packed all of the necessary items for my trip home.
Over the winter break, I came to the realization that I would not be returning to school for the spring semester that year. Upset, I emailed the president, letting her know that I wanted to change my acceptance of my bid to a deferral, hoping that I would be able to pledge the next year.
The following two semesters only strengthened my desire to be a member of the group, as my big as well as other members offered encouragement and support through what was an uncharted and often difficult time in my life.
Then pledging rolled around. Two weeks of stress and hard work and attempts to balance school work with various activities that culminated in a wonderful initiation ceremony, pledging was difficult but oh so worth it.
And it’s funny. I was initiated a little more than two months ago. During the pledging process, I got to know all of the girls, but I wondered how I would fit in with all of them. In the time since then, however, I have really found my niche in both the group and on campus. Before, I had a comfortable group of friends, but I didn’t ever interact beyond that. Now, not only do I have an incredible group of sisters who I know will stand by my side come hell and high water, but I feel more like a part of the campus life as a whole. I feel like being a member of the Greek system has opened me up to get to know more students from all different organizations, and I like it.
But honestly, the campus integration is secondary to the sisterhood that I have found in Theta. As someone who grew up with three brothers, I always wished for a sister. I have been fortunate enough to acquire a few in more recent years, between my host sisters from my travels abroad and my best friends back home, whom I count as members of my own family, but here on campus, beyond my roommate and best friend, I didn’t have that strong, familial support that I felt I could have. Don’t get me wrong – my friends are great, and I love them to the moon and back – but there is something about sisterhood that makes me feel like I could go to any of these girls at any time and tell them anything that was bothering me, and they would do everything in their power to support me.
It’s strange, because honestly some of these ladies are people whom I may never have interacted with if it weren’t for Theta. Some of them intimidated me, and some of them are just people I wouldn’t have met. But in these two months, I have grown so comfortable with these girls that I trust each and every one of them wholeheartedly. I trust them enough that I dance in front of them – badly – and that I am going to dance with them at Lip Sync, which is a huge step for me in overcoming my self-consciousness with my body and my ability to move. I know that, as long as I’m up there with my sisters, everything is going to be alright.
I don’t think I can adequately describe how I feel about them, nor can I describe how it happened. We just clicked, and I think it’s because we are all so similar in the ways that matter: we’re kind, sensitive, and sassy, but we’re different too, and we complement each other in the best way. These girls are some of my biggest role models, even though they’re all close to my age, and they’re some of my best friends. I know that I can count on them, and I consider them a huge part of my support system on campus. I am going to miss them when I go abroad in the fall, but the great thing about this group is that I know I will be welcomed back with open arms.
In short, they are the sisters that I always wanted. I would do anything for any of these girls, and I believe that they would do the same for me. They have helped me grow as a person in even this short time, and I can’t wait to continue to grow and mature with them by my side. And that is why I wear my letters with pride. Because I am proud: proud of each and every one of my sisters and the values that our letters stand for.