Sisterhood: My Thoughts on Sororities

When I tell most people I'm in a sorority, they're not really surprised.  Most of them proceed with the question, "Is it anything like that book 'Pledged'?" or "One time, I saw this episode of Dr. Phil where these girls died because of a hazing incident..." and you know what?  I'm not going to say that it's never happened.  Even I've enjoyed a Lifetime movie or two surrounding the topic.  The fact is that my experience with sorority life has been far from anything horrific, in changed my college experience and my outlook on adult life...

I have two brothers, but I was only surrounded 24/7 by my younger brother, Paul.  For the first 5 years of his life it was easy to convince him to play dress up or Barbies, but once he realized that me doing his makeup wasn't what most boys his age considered "fun" the girl time halted. 

Growing up I always had lots of friends, but I never seemed to consistently stick with a group of girls.  My interests would change and we would grow apart...we never had something keeping us together. 

When I left for college, I was terrified.  Let's just say that my on campus visit to good old Rose-Hulman left me feeling like I was not going to be having my "Saved by the Bell: The College Years" experience I had always dreamed of.  After unpacking a carload of stuff and moving into my room, I clung to my parents for fear that when they returned I would be playing dungeon and dragons and watching significant amounts of anime.  While I had always been an intelligent gal, I still had interests in sports, fashion, and well...personal hygiene.  A few weeks into my first quarter I was ready to call it quits.  I knew I should have gone to Duke or Northwestern like I had wanted to...

But several weeks into school something happened - Rush.  I am so thankful I go to a school that does Rush in the fall...because I'm not sure I would have been giving good ole Rose a second chance come winter time.  Back in those days I was very good at convincing my mother that every social occasion required a new outfit, so the weekend before Rush she took me shopping back home in Indy where I meticulously put together several outfits for the impending parties.  I wanted to make a good impression and let these people know that I was definitely sorority material. 

After the first party it was evident which sorority I belonged in - Chi Omega.  It's funny, but I can still remember that party like it was yesterday.  One of those ladies ended up being my 'grandma' and two of them ended up being in my wedding party.  I was so afraid to get my hopes up...especially since I lived in a dorm where very few other freshman girls lived. 

I went to all of the parties, but had been feeling kind of crappy the last night of the Preference party.  That next morning, I went up to my RA, and promptly passed out on her floor.  There is nothing more embarrassing than being unconscious and waking up to large woman yelling your name.  I was transported to the hospital and ended up missing Bid Day.  At that point I knew that whatever sorority I had gotten in to must have revoked my membership after not showing up for Bid Day...but when I got to my door it was decorated with all sorts of red and yellow - the colors of Chi Omega.  The girls had made a sign for me to get better soon and plenty of people stopped by that day to check on me and tell me how excited they were to see me. 

It may sound funny, but that week was one of the best weeks of my life.  I firmly believe that my entire college experience changed from that one decision.  Never again did I have to worry about going to the Cafeteria alone, not knowing what to do on a Friday night, or not making friends.  For the first time in my life I had sisters, approximately 60 of them. 

I would be lying to you if I said it was all wonderful - there were definitely times when I want to settle an argument with those girls the old fashioned way just like my younger and brother and I would.  And I definitely have gone through some of the darkest moments of my life with some of these women.  I'm not best friends with all of them, but I can definitely count on them. 

The possibilities of sisterhood are endless - and it didn't just stop with my active sisters.  When I had my first job, there were plenty of sisters from my chapter whom I had never met before and got to know.  And when I moved to Memphis for a job I got involved with sisters from other chapters - and the best part was that it was so easy.  Knowing that we had both made the same commitment allowed us to instill instant trust and admiration for each other. 

I'm a firm believer that life is what you make it, and there have been times when I've learned that the hard way.  Even though I complain about Facebook sometimes, I'm so happy to get on there and see the lives of my sisters changing for the better.  I feel proud when they get a promotion or announce a pregnancy and I hurt for them when they are dealing with the loss of a loved one or are having a difficult time.  The fact is that these people are my family, and if I can help them I will. 

So before you imagine Tori Spelling as a young pledge who finds some murderous connection to the school dean because of her experience in sororities, realize that most women have a much different outlook on their time in sisterhood.  There are times when I need it more than others, but that sisterhood is something I can always depend on.  This year I get to go to the National Convention of Chi Omega with two actives that impress me every day and a wonderful friend that was in my pledge class.  It's a decision I'm happy I've made, and I wouldn't have it any other way! 

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