I’m no stranger to the recruitment process. Not only did I go through recruitment myself as a scared little freshman, but I stood on the other end of it for two more years, followed by my decision to become the recruitment chair for my senior year. I know all of the ins and outs of the process. I know which girls are too interested, which ones are just there for a signature, and which ones will be sent to standards within their first month. I know the hand signals to tell my sisters which girls are cool and which ones need conversational help, and I can identify the characteristics of a strong pledge within seconds. After completely mastering the recruitment process from beginning to end, I couldn’t believe how nervous I was right before I started it all over from the beginning. I had made the decision to join Junior League, and that meant rushing all over again.
If you don’t know, the Junior League is a group of women starting at age twenty-one that promotes voluntarism in their communities. Basically, it means that a bunch of wealthy bitches get together once a month to drink wine, show off their engagement rings, and pretend they did their service hours. Naturally, I wanted in.
Just like with anything good in life, getting into Junior League doesn’t come easy. Not only do you need letters of recommendation, but you’ll also need to convince the active members that you’re worth joining. Sound familiar? As with sorority recruitment, first impressions are everything, so I spent longer preparing for my first “unofficial” recruitment event than I ever have for a first date or an interview. Even though the event was non-mandatory, as every good Greek should know, that meant you’d better fucking be there, or else. I cancelled all of my obligations the day before to get a manicure, wash my car, and have every stray hair on my body waxed, threaded, or plucked. The day of the open house hit, and I was almost ready to meet my new best friends.
After spending at least an hour deciding how much Lilly was too much (a solid shift proved to be exactly the right amount) and whether wearing pearls would be too try-hard (it was), I was finally ready to begin the rushing process. Again. I walked into the house of a Southern socialite housewife, hoping my rose gold accessories weren’t too trendy, and was met with a sound I haven’t heard in three years — the sound of a hundred women making small talk and pretending to laugh. I was right at home.
I was met with a giant, fake smile by a woman with giant, fake boobs and a giant (but definitely not fake) engagement ring and led to a sign-in table where I was asked to verify every piece of information these women knew about me. Just like in recruitment, I instantly knew that I was being examined under a microscope. Was my joke funny? Should I have brought a friend? Was my Lilly shift too bright or not bright enough? I put on a nametag and was immediately met by a member of the recruitment committee to show me around. As we walked, I could only hope that she was signaling to her friends behind her back that I was one of the cool ones.
I was led into a room packed full of a hundred twenty-something women wearing dresses, heels, and name tags, and I honestly got hit with a wave of recruitment PTSD. Since I’m rushing in the South, the entire room was filled with Lilly prints and Brooks Brothers skirts, and I breathed a sigh of relief when I knew that I had made the right choice with my outfit. One PNM who obviously didn’t get the memo showed up in jeans, but she was wise enough to show herself out after about twenty minutes of conversation.
The first difference between sorority rush and Junior League emerged almost immediately when I was asked “red or white?” by a JL member. That’s right — rushing Junior League involves wine, and when a member thrusts a glass of Pinot into your hand while she talks about philanthropy, unless you’ve got a bun in the oven, you’d better drink the Kool-Aid. If this seems too good to be true, that’s because there’s a catch — the wine is free, but you’d better take your time with it because you’d better believe that certain members have been delegated to watch how much you drink, how quickly you drink it, and whether or not you can remain perfectly upright in your 3” heels. I resisted the urge to down my wine and forced myself to mingle with the women I hoped to become.
Since this event was an unofficial open house, details regarding dues, membership requirements, and service hours were gracefully brushed to the side, although as an experienced recruitment chair myself, I can’t say I expected anything different. Through ensuring I spoke to the tipsiest member of the recruitment committee, I gleaned that instead of being referred to as a PNM, I would undergo a “provisional year,” where my pledge duties would consist of extra dues, volunteer hours, and service on a committee. I would essentially be completely reliving my freshman year as an adult, so I couldn’t help but wonder — will it be worth it?
In asking opinions from current members about what Junior League meant to them, I kept hearing buzz phrases that I knew only too well: “you get out of it what you put into it;” “I’ve met some of my best friends through serving together;” and “it’s such a great way to get plugged into a community and make connections” were way too commonly used. As cliché as they are, as a former RC myself, I know that we say those things for a reason, and that’s because they’re true. At the end of the day, I was here to become a member of an elite society and hopefully, make some classy friends along the way. From a long conversation and a promise to be invited to yoga by another PNM who was wearing the same Lilly shift as me (in another color, thank God), I think I may be well on my way to becoming a Junior Leaguer.
Even though the process is just beginning, I left the open house as giddy and excited as I was as a freshman after being invited by a Junior Leaguer to attend the next round of recruitment events. Will I get in? I’ll keep you updated as I continue the rush process, but so far, things look promising.
P.S., if any of your drunk aunts want to write me an official LOR, I wouldn’t turn it down. I’ll definitely be attending the mandatory event, which at best will define my new role as the ultimate Southern socialite and at worst will give me an excuse to shop the Kate Spade surprise sale. I hope I get a bid..