In high school, I wasn’t popular. I wasn’t pretty. I wasn’t someone all the boys wanted to hang out with. I wasn’t someone who went to parties or drank or smoked. I wasn’t someone who everyone knew or who anyone wanted to be. I had a hard time talking to people I didn’t know, I kept my eyes on the floor and my head down, and I prayed for graduation to come, preferably without me doing something big and embarrassing.
Basically, I was a no one.
When I came to college, I intended to do the same thing. I wasn’t going for rags to riches, pauper to princess, awkward girl takes off her mask and becomes this beautiful queen of the university. I just wanted to keep a low profile, make it out in less than four years, and not create any problems for myself.
I was NOT your typical potential new member, pledge, or sorority girl.
So, naturally, when I got a message from a leadership consultant about attending a meeting for a sorority on campus that was colonizing, I ignored it. I also ignored her second one. Then her third. By the fourth, I was annoyed. With the fifth, she broke my spirit, and I decided to go. I did a little research, got the general facts about the organization, put on my prettiest shirt and my least wrinkled jeans, and I set out to attend the meeting.
This is what I expected: 10 minutes in a room with a bunch of other girls, being ignored, bored, and waiting to get out, and that I would never hear from this organization again. What I got was so much more. I got a one-on-one meeting with a former national president, who listened to my concerns and helped me work through the finances and every other typical fear that all PNMs have. She made me feel comfortable, like I could have stayed there and talked to her all day. I heard about the chapter’s philanthropy, to which I had a strong, personal connection. When she invited me to the philanthropy presentation that night, I just had to say yes.
And then came pref night, where, sitting with 61 other girls, we all looked under our chairs at the same time and found our bids. I cried with girls I barely knew, I took pictures, and for the first time, I felt I really belonged somewhere.
The next few months, I grew closer to the girls. I met my best friends, my future bridesmaids. I met people who have supported me through every challenge I’ve faced in the last two years. My sisters are the people who I turn to pretty much any time I need someone, whether it’s for help in a class, someone to eat lunch with, or someone to let me cry on her shoulder. I got pledged in with my former orientation leader, a girl who I respect and admire more than just about anyone. When I was initiated, I was standing next to the girl I cried with on bid night. These girls have continued to be a constant presence in my life.
Over time, the benefits I’ve gotten from my sorority have changed my life. I made new friends, in and out of my organization. I started going out, having fun. I quit putting in my headphones and keeping my head down when I walked around campus. I started dressing better, smiling more. I became more outgoing. I laughed more and spent a hell of a lot less time sitting in my dorm room watching people get pulled over in the McDonald’s parking lot. I got to help people through our service projects and participate in sisterhood activities. I went from a girl with five female friends to one with 61 sisters who are always up for just about anything. My sisters took me to my first mixer, my first semiformal. My sisters took me to my first karaoke bar. My sisters laughed when I drunkenly screamed all the words to “We Didn’t Start the Fire” along with the guys who were singing. They were there after my first one-night stand, and they were there when I got my heart broken. My sisters even introduced me to my boyfriend, whose letters I proudly wear on a chain around my neck.
But even more proudly than I wear those letters, I wear my own. The letters that I chose, the letters that chose me. Every time I slip on my letters, I’m glad that I wasn’t a traditional sorority girl. I’m glad that I have this amazing story of how I changed and how my organization changed me, because now when I hear “sororities are only good for parties” or how we’re all superficial and fake, I can tell people how my sisters embraced this small, awkward, quiet girl. I can tell them how my sisters helped me gain the confidence that I have now, to even write this. I can tell them how my sisters push me to reach for the stars every single day, and to always be my best. I can tell them how they gave me advice on school, work, clothes, boys, and just about a million other things. I can tell them about watching “She’s The Man” in the living room of the chapter house. Or filling the house with girls to make bracelets for cancer patients. Or how my sisters were there for me when THREE of my aunts got diagnosed with breast cancer, all around the same time. I can tell them how I grew from my sorority, and how my sorority grew from me.
I’m proud to be a girl who never wanted to join a sorority. I’m even more proud to be a member of one.