Recently, I was on a trip with my college surrounded by people from the history department (don’t hate, I mean, someone has to love it) and naturally I was surrounded by the typical narrow-minded people who literally know nothing about Greek life. I heard everything, from the snide comments like “You only wear clothes with your letters on them” to “ohhh yeah, that’s right, you pay an outrageous amount of money for all those ‘friends,’ right? It’s like a country club for basic white girls.”
WOAH. Um, excuse me, but do you actually know what you’re talking about? Yeah, I didn’t think so considering what you think our letters stand for “Alcohol, T-Shirts, and Parties.”
This is what I was surrounded with for a week in a foreign country, and while I completely understand the misconstrued notion of Greek Life (although the above mentioned items are certainly found in some circles), I also know when I’m right. And I absolutely know that I’m right when I say that being a part of Greek Life will change you as a person, bringing you out of that self-conscious high school shell that wouldn’t speak to a soul, transforming you into a conversation hoarder that could make a brick wall talk back. And that’s just the beginning.
Someone else on this very trip mockingly said to me, “Oh, so you think you can get a job over someone else just by saying, ‘I’m your sorority sister’ and then giving your secret handshake?” I then replied, “No. My sorority has allowed me to say, ‘This is who I am. And I deserve this job.’”
Because, when I’m twenty-four years old and the rest of my former college peers are searching for the courage to knock on someone’s office door, I will most likely be the door their knocking on. The confidence I’m portraying does not come from giving my secret handshake or password to the highest ranking closet sorority woman at my company or from reciting my creed word for word in a closed midnight meeting with the same woman. My confidence in my future and myself comes from what my chapter has given me that remained unnoticed by myself until recently.
It has taught me how to respect people, as anyone that’s ever rushed a sorority knows that no one is as intimidating as an older girl telling you to leave a party early. Not until you sit through a meeting with a furious President and Chapter Advisor do you understand respect. Not until you get sent to Standards and have to silently take any and all punishment given you despite the fact that, at formal, you didn’t know your date’s “grand idea” was jumping in the pool. Not until you see the most beautiful, kind person you’ve ever known suffer a tragic heartbreak do you understand that to respect someone is more than appreciating them, but it also involves caring, listening, and being there when they need it.
It has taught me how to be a friend. Being in a sorority is something that comes with so many strings, as you have to attend many meetings and events, but what I didn’t realize until recently is that I would never have met the women that I call my best friends and bridesmaids if it hadn’t been for Greek Life. Our paths would never have crossed, our wine never shared, and our laughs never heard, because we are all so different. But that’s what makes our bond so beautiful. I learned that simply sending a thoughtful text message can turn someones day around, or having a conversation with a sister in the library could turn around mine. It’s extraordinary, the friendships I’ve made through being Greek.
It has taught me how to be a leader. I mean, sure, I’d held positions in high school, ruling over a few people, but not until I was sitting above my chapter with my executive council, speaking to a hundred girls about how important our service projects were did I understand how to lead. Not until I was the only person up until 4AM making a pre-rush mixer banner did I understand responsibility. Not until I accepted a recruitment position that basically took up all my spare time during the summer did I understand how it felt to be truly depended upon. All of these are qualities that leaders must have and my chapter molded me into the leader I know I can be today and for that I am forever grateful.
Most importantly, though, my sorority has taught me to believe in myself. It gave me the courage to apply for a leadership position, the self-assurance when I received one, and the support when I carried out the responsibilities that came with it. It gave me the confidence to just let go and be…me. It has allowed me to grow into a courageous young woman who will take leaps, (such as traveling to foreign countries without knowing anyone, yet coming back with more new friends than I can count.) It has given me the ability to walk into an interview, look my superior in the eyes, explain precisely why I deserve the job, and then be hired on the spot.
So many people today see Greek Life portrayed through various media outlets in the most negative light. And, of course, not all of what they show is false, yet they are certainly events that happen far and few between. Looking back at my three years in college, I would change some of my decisions if I could, but I would say with absolute certainty that I would never change being Greek. I would never change that precarious decision I made to rush a sorority. It has changed my life and slowly morphed me into the strong, confident woman that I have become, which is something all the money in the world could not buy.
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