Being a big means so much more than just crafting and photo-ops and many sisters often forget this. I’m here to set the record straight on what it really means to be a big. To all the future bigs out there, in the most basic terms a big is defined as, “A mentor for a new member within a sorority”. The problem is we hear about far too many problem bigs out there because of a lack of understanding of this definition and what it really means for both the big and little involved.
You should not become a big if you aren’t actively involved in and dedicated to your sorority. You also should not become a big if you aren’t willing to be flexible. Being a big many times comes down to being flexible from the matching process to family traditions. Say you don’t get your first choice little and you end up with a girl you never even remember meeting during recruitment. Or maybe your little is a non-traditional student that is older than you. No matter what the matching process throws at you as far as a new little is concerned keep in mind that you may not be instantly best friends with them. Think about it though. How many of the friends in your life already did you instantly click with? Those relationships took time to grow so the same principles will apply to your big/little relationship. Go on “dates” with your little like you would with friends such as taking her to see a movie, rock-climbing at the campus gym, or grabbing coffee at a local cafe. Ask questions, listen, and really get to know your little so that you can help better integrate her into your family line. Share what you learn with your big and grand big so they can get to know your little too.
The position of big within a family is one that is very important. It’s an honor to be able to have a girl within the sorority you love that looks up to you so absolutely and that will carry on your family line one day. You are there to listen, share advice, go on adventures, and ultimately always be there for her. You are her mentor and that means you should be striving to do everything you can to better your sorority so she will want to do the same. Run for an executive position, apply to be a part of the order of omega, be an active participant in philanthropy events. Whatever you choose to get involved in make sure you are setting a good example and avoiding meetings with standards as much as you can.
Being a big relies a lot on your time management and juggling skills as well. Between sorority events, work meetings, and lecture classes you lead a hectic life but your little must always be on your mind. This leads us to the quandary of taking twins or a second little. It may seem like fun initially having a larger family and growing your line however there are many things you should consider. If you choose to take twins or a second little at a different time you must consider the monetary costs, always avoid favoritism, and know how to divide your time. You must treat your littles as both individuals and as a part of your family unit.
Being thoughtful is important to being a good big as well. This doesn’t always mean gifting your little a sweater. It may mean bringing her cookies you made, helping her study her biology flashcards, or comforting her when she’s feeling down. Remembering what is going on in your little’s life is crucial to being able to assist her with these things so write everything down from her birthday to her favorite snacks to her class schedule. Learning more about your little will help you down the line when times get tough. Your little may get sent to standards, have a disagreement with your house mom, or have a fight with a sister over an election that didn’t go her way. When these things happen you need to be there to defend your little’s character and share every nice thing you know about her. Instead of turning against her you need to stick up for her and be her ally. That said, if your little is in the wrong and continues to make bad decisions, you need to step up as her mentor and big to set her straight. If you do your job right she will thank you when your GPA improves, she gets that great exec position, or finds her perfect guy. It may not be easy to confront her about these things but no one said it would be so don’t take the responsibility lightly.
As your little’s mentor and guide to Greek life you must also not get in her way. Teach her Greek terms, tell her which fraternity brothers to avoid, and all about her grand big but avoid giving her advice that is selfish in nature. Don’t tell her that she shouldn’t run for a certain position just because you want to or be too nosy when she is choosing a little one day. Give her room to breathe and make her own decisions while being ready to assist her when she really needs you. Always include her in family traditions and teach her all about the meaning behind them. This could be anything from nicknames you’ve given each other to crafts you make for future additions to the family that are unique to your line. Always make your little feel special and included no matter what else is going on in your life or your family line.
To all the current and future bigs out there: