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What Being A “Good” Big Sister Really Means

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In the simplest terms, a big is an older sorority sister meant to guide you through the incredibly overwhelming beginning of your college and sorority experiences. But she is so much more than just that.

With the right pairing, a big becomes your school mom or the person you call when you’re sad. She puts you to bed when you can’t do it yourself, she drives you to the doctor when you’re sick, and she checks in to make sure you’re doing okay. She’s your therapist: always there to listen, to give advice, and to sometimes tell you the harsh truth that you may not want to hear. She’s your biggest fan, the one campaigning for you when you run for a council position, the one talking you up to the cute guy at the bar, and the one telling you she knows you can do it when you think you can’t. You feel better knowing that even on the days when your life is a mess, she’s there to tell you she’s been there, too, and that it’ll all get better with time. She’s there to celebrate with you and buy the champagne when you win, just like she’s there to dry your tears and put a bendy straw in your huge tumbler of wine when you lose. She’s your adviser, telling you which classes are easy and which are well worth the hard work. She’s your link to the older pledge classes, and a great opportunity to make friends beyond your own. She’ll not only outlast every single crush, boyfriend, breakup, and hookup, but she’ll coach you through each one. She makes you excited to have a little of your own, because she made being a big seem like the world’s most exciting job. She understands when you have to put your head down and hustle through a tough week or two of school, and she’s still there for lunch dates and Thirsty Thursdays when you have time again.

A big is not a human social ladder. While it’s great to have a big who can introduce you to people and show you around, she’s not your personal social chair. She’s over walking from house party to house party, so don’t get tiffy if she can’t tell you where the best parties are on any given night. If she’s not into going out often, that makes her the perfect person to snuggle up with for a movie night, or the ideal study buddy when you need to focus. She doesn’t have to be your “perfect match” or absolute, number one best friend. I’ve overheard so many littles around campus talking about how “different” their big is from themselves as if it’s the end of the world. I always want to lean over and say, “Welcome to college, sweetheart. We’re all different, and that’s the best part.” We learn the most from the people who are most unlike us.

Your big may match you in every aspect, or she may fill a totally new part of your life that you didn’t even know you were missing. The two of you may hit it off immediately, or you may need a little more time to become close. You can never tell at the beginning how the two of you will end up. If your big isn’t the kind of big you’d hoped for, make sure to be the best big possible to your little. Like biological families, sorority families may not match your idea of the “perfect family,” but that doesn’t mean they aren’t perfect for you. You will fight sometimes, but you will love and forgive more. The big/little relationship can be one of the most meaningful aspects of the sorority experience if you let go of preconceived notions and keep in mind what a big really is.

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