In high school, if you had told me that I was going to join the organization that I am now so proud to represent, I would have laughed in your face. “Like, hello? I’m a legacy to another sorority? I’m going to join my mom’s house, freaking duh,” I would have scoffed. When I was little, I idolized Elle Woods like no other. I wanted to live in a sorority house the way I imagine 14-year-old boys yearn for life in the Playboy mansion. Not just any sorority house, mind you. I was dead set on following in my mother’s footsteps.
I thought their colors were the cutest and that their letters were adorable. What’s more, I had spent my entire life listening to my mother regale me with tales of her collegiate glory days. I wanted to be a permed, tanned, witty sorority girl circa 1985! I wanted to drink beer at the frat house next door and listen to Bruce Springsteen with my windows down as I drove along a tree-lined Greek Row. I wanted to make friends I would still have twenty years later, friends who would laughingly slip me the grip on our annual girls weekend at the lake. But most of all, I wanted to share the secrets, the letters, and the bond with my mom.
Soon enough, I was moving into my dorm, meeting my roommate, and getting dressed for my first day of recruitment. When I stepped into the entryway of my mom’s sorority, it was like stepping into a recruitment video. Everywhere I looked, there were bubbly sorority girls in sundresses of varying colors. As I talked to the girls, I felt nothing. No goosebumps, no tingly this-is-where-I-belong, and no I-finally-found-my-sisters. Instead, all these feelings occurred at the house down the street. In this strange, wasn’t-in-any-of-my-fantasies sorority, I felt something that made me want to come back the next day. I was thrilled to be invited back, and as the week progressed I was surprised to realize that it wasn’t my mom’s house I scanned for in trepidation on the list my Rho Gam would hand me each morning- it was mine.
“My” house was the one with the girls who made me feel like they were as excited to see me again as I was to see them. “My” house was the one that made me feel like I wasn’t in the middle of recruitment at all, but instead just laughing on the floor with a pal. “My” house was the one where mascara-tears ran down my cheeks on Preference Day. And “my” house was the one whose letters I read on my bid card, the one I scuffed my white converse running home to, and the one that has held my heart ever since.
I had thought that joining my mom’s house would make us closer and I had tried to ignore her advice to follow my gut most of the week because I had dreamed of being a second generation in her house for so long. Of course, parents are generally right in a way that eighteen-year-olds seldom are. In the end, I followed my gut and it led me to a piece of me that I had never known was missing. It’s hard not to speak in clichés about this sort of thing, and it’s even harder not to sound like a complete cheese-ball, but clichés are overused because they’re so true. In all honesty, I don’t know how I made it eighteen years without the women I see at chapter each Monday, but it’s terrifying to imagine that if I had chosen my mom’s house instead, I might have gone without them for a lifetime.
If you’re going through recruitment this fall, I urge you to think twice before blindly pledging yourself to the house your mother was in. It’s easy to get caught up in the excitement of thinking “Oh, I’m a shoe-in for so and so, that’s all I want,” before ever having a single conversation. Chances are, the chapter that your mother fell in love with so many years ago is very different from the one you are looking at joining now. Girls don’t join sororities for the colors or the flowers or the letters. They join for other girls. There was one girl specifically who I talked to all week long at my now sorority. She was the one sporting identical mascara tracks on pref day, and she was the one who’s arms I ran into on Bid Day. As I pledged, I met more and more girls who began to mean the world to me. And now, they’re the girls I have laughed with, I have cried with, I have bickered with, and who I now live with. These girls who I proudly stand shoulder to shoulder with during door stacks and songs are the girls who will be in my wedding and be at my baby shower. They have truly become my sisters in the most sacred sense of the word. I love my chapter dearly, and every day I am thankful that the chapter I joined is the one I felt the most at home at, not the one that I had assumed I would join. And even though my mom and I are not sisters, we are still mother and daughter, and it’s a lot of fun trying to convince each other to spill our secrets- although neither of us have caved yet..