Well… this one has been bouncing around in my head for a bit, and it’s not entirely easy to write – for a few reasons. But, to start, I will say this: No, I will not be saying what sorority I was involved with. A few of you may know, but please keep that information quiet, because I know my sisters are lovely people – in their own way. I know my own issues with anxiety and depression played a role in how I feel about things today.
A lot of people are surprised to find out I was a “sorority girl’ in college. One regret is that I never went through what my school called “Formal Recruitment”. That even takes place at the start of the fall semester every year, where girls go to each and every house to visit… from there it’s pref parties and bid day, yadda yadda. I went through what we called “Informal Recruitment” – which generally takes place in the spring semester. The houses who are looking for girls would post invites in the paper, you show up to the house, if they like you then you get a bid. I’m making it simple for the sake of time.
I went to one house with a good friend of mine. I knew a few girls in the chapter casually – and I enjoyed my time. I got an invite back for the next night. Unfortunately I couldn’t attend due to work, so I called to let them know. There was an informal bid day a few days later and I went to see if I had a bid with my hopes high. I felt confident… but I didn’t receive a bid. I was pretty crushed, to be honest. Later I found out that it was likely because I didn’t meet enough of the girls for them to properly “vote” on me – it wasn’t that they disliked me… but I just wasn’t able to do what they required to get a bid.
Anyway… I believe that same night, or within the next week, I was talking to a girl on a committee I was on about Greek life and she invited me to join her at her sorority house for an informal recruitment event. I accepted… and from the moment I walked in I felt at “home”. Everything from the colors to the girls wearing Chucks on their feet made me feel comfortable. I got invited back, and I went back the next night to meet more girls. A group walked me back to my residence hall, we laughed and chatted the whole way. I got home with a smile on my face and realized that even if I didn’t get a bid I likely had new friends on campus (this was pre-Facebook). I had just finished getting ready for bed when there was a knock on my door – and when I opened it there stood a huge group of girls that I had met that night, one holding an envelope in her hand. They were extending to me a formal bid – meaning I was being asked to join their ranks. The next day I went and signed my bid and was officially a preliminary member
Honestly, that night is still one of my favorite college memories.
My pledge class was small. I think there were six of us… I was the Vice President of the pledge class. We had weekly meetings. We were allowed to wear our letters from the day we signed our bid (some sororities don’t allow that). And let me be VERY clear – we were never, in any way, hazed. We had fun. Fun signs showed up on my dorm door. Random gifts here and there. Girls nights at the house. We had our ribbon ceremony, we learned our history and significant parts of things. We had big/little week ending in a beautiful reveal. We got initiated that spring. I had sisters, and for an only child that was a BIG deal.
I was offered to live in the sorority house (it wasn’t a requirement) for the next year and I would be rooming with my “twin” (my Big’s other Little). I was so excited to be living in the hub of things. However at the end of that summer I was offered a resident adviser position. I had applied prior to even joining the sorority but my GPA was, literally, .25 too low to get the job. My GPA went way up in the spring and when a position opened, I was offered it. At my school being an RA was a BIG deal. There were, let’s say, 150 spots… and around 400 people every year applied. So to be offered it was HUGE. It was free room and board. I had to quit my current on campus job, but I was fine with it. I also, however, had to back out of living in the house.
I got some shit for it… we had to have the house full. Girls were mad at me, we could be fined or have an independent (a lady NOT a part of the sorority) put in the house to fill the space. Honestly, I think that’s where it all started to fall apart.
I went through my first formal recruitment as a member of the chapter. My boyfriend got really hurt and had to go home – so I missed a weekend to be with him. Another strike against me to some, even though it was okayed by our president.
I felt left out of the loop… the girls I had gotten close to were all living in the house or in apartments together. One of my sisters was an RA with me, but she had done her time in the house, so while we were friendly we weren’t close. I debated leaving the sorority. I was closer with my RA co-workers anyway. But I decided to stick it out and put more into it the following school year.
Except, I never went back for that school year. At the end of the second semester something else pretty major happened to me. I won’t get into it here… but suffice it to say that it wrecked me when it came to the anxiety and depression. REALLY long story short, I left school for a while.
In 2005 I decided I wanted to go back to college, and go back to the school I was at. So in January of 2006 I went back there. I tried contacting the sorority but never heard back- and because of my anxiety I never just dropped by even though “once a sister always a sister”. Summer 2006 I did some poking around, contacted nationals and they put me in touch with our current chapter president. She was super nice via email and welcomed me back. Until I was actually back.
I felt odd being back. I wasn’t the oldest, but I was one of the oldest. Girls weren’t really being kind. I was ready to stop and just drop out, and the night I made up my mind that was what I was going to do, a few girls invited me to sit with them. I stayed. They were my saving grace over the next year. They also told me that apparently another girl had left and come back, but she did it only for the resume boost being Greek can get you… that’s why others were so mean and rude. They thought I was like her. I really had come back for the sisterhood and friendships, but they would continue to believe what they wanted.
I made it through formal recruitment again, knowing it would be my last one. I went to gatherings at the house to watch Grey’s Anatomy every week. I made it to Chapter meetings and was becoming more comfortable. I intended on being back for a full year and doing my internship in summer 2007 and then graduating that summer as well. I found out last minute I could intern in the spring of 2007 – letting me graduate in May. The caveat was that I had to drive to and from home – two hours each way – twice a week. This just made those that though I came back for a resume boost believe it even more. I couldn’t leave on the terms that were considered ‘okay’ so I had to still pay dues but I was excused from any activities since our secretary and president weren’t complete assholes.
I went to a handful things that semester and felt like a complete loner. When I needed support the most I didn’t get much. I never went back.
I am currently Facebook friends with, I think, two girls from my chapter. One is someone I consider a good friend. That’s it. No real lasting bonds of friendship and sisterhood. They never even formed when I was active. Some of this is my fault – I’m awkward and shy… I have anxiety and struggle with depression. It makes it hard for me to open up. But it also makes it hard for people to get to know the ‘real’ me.
I wanted a sorority experience that was full of friendship and bonds. I didn’t get that. I felt that once I was an initiated member I didn’t count as much. I felt that when I achieved something – like becoming an RA – no one shared in my joy. I felt that when I came back to school I would have a place that felt like “home” and instead was met with a house full of ladies who didn’t embody the chapter that I started with. It wasn’t welcoming and the girls were mean.. it wasn’t what I signed up for a few years prior.
I know most girls don’t have a negative experience. Most form bonds for life. Unfortunately, Greek life wasn’t for me – no matter how hard I tried. I don’t regret it, not one bit… but I do wish it had turned out differently.