If I’m being totally honest, I’ve been writing this post since October 2019. So, it’s gone through quite a few iterations. But after about 3,000 drafts, I’ve finally concluded how I want to tell this story.
A couple disclaimers: I understand everyone has different experiences being in a sorority, but as with most things on this blog, this is just my opinion. Also, this is not going to be about my experiences with fraternities. Fraternities are icky, their floors are covered in old beer and empty vape pods. For the remainder of this post, we’re talking about my sister-folk.
I’m writing this in hope of answering a few questions:
And in answering all these questions, this is going to be a long one. So, strap in:
I joined a sorority in my first year of university. Right out the gate. My biological older sister was in a sorority and she wanted me to go through recruitment so badly. And if I’m being honest, I thought the whole thing was a pretty stupid. I had this picture of Sydney White, House Bunny, white girls in tennis skirts and polo shirts which didn’t really seem to fit the life I wanted in university. But I love my big sister and I thought going through recruitment would put her at ease.
Even though I caved to my sister’s wishes and signed up, I was still more than hesitant to join a sorority. However, with every passing day at UBC it seemed like a better idea. UBC is big and I was feeling lonely. The girls I had met through my sister seemed a-okay, and I was having some extreme difficulties meeting people on my own. So, I drank the Kool-Aid and joined a sorority.
During my time in recruitment, I was this timid 17-year-old with self-esteem and confidence issues. I hated everyone but I hated myself more. I was depressed and anxious and had convinced myself I had made all the wrong choices in my life up until that point. But I sat in what would be my chapter room and looked around at women who were leaders in their community. They were confident and gave life their all and had no shame in who they were. I looked around the room and I wanted to be them. And looking back, that’s why I joined a sorority. I didn’t like who I was, and I wanted to be something more.
But why did I stay? We’ll get into that more later, but a lot of people join and drop. And there are a multitude of reasons to leave (as there are a multitude of reasons to stay): it’s expensive, it’s a time commitment, they just don’t feel like it, they dropped out of school. But I stuck with it. For four years I attended chapter meetings every week and put my best foot forward to be a part of this organisation. I will admit, part of it was self-competitive-ness and I didn’t want to feel like I was giving up. But also, a lot of me wanted to stick with it. I had made a promise, I had committed myself to these women come hell or high water and I intended to see that promise through.
2. What did I love?
I loved the leadership opportunities. At 19 years old I raised nearly $30,000 for my sorority’s charity as the philanthropy chair. I was given the chance to create my own fundraiser; people will continue to run it year after year and I can look back and say, “that was me”. I was able to go to international leadership conferences and speak to women making serious impacts in their respective communities. I was learning to delegate and manage a team. I learned to live in a democracy and navigate the challenges of working with personalities different from my own. I learned to connect based on values and ideals. I learned from those women and I can only hope at least one of them learned anything from me.
I loved ritual. I can’t tell you what we did or why we did it (shhhhhhh, it’s a secret). But I loved knowing that I share these secrets with tens of thousands of women around the world.
I loved the structure it provided my life. For my first year of university, being in a sorority got me out of the house and gave me things to do with my day. Mandatory events and chapter meetings and social gatherings all seemed frustrating at times, but they kept me sane. My sorority kept me connected to the real world when everything else was a blur.
And all in all, I loved the women. They are badass. I got to cheer them on as they ran marathons, started their own businesses, and applied for med school. I got to see people grow and change over the course of my sorority experience. Yes, we butted heads and not everything was rainbows and unicorns, but I love those women.
3. What leaves…room for improvement?
As I said, not all rainbows and unicorns.
Being in a sorority made me want to pull my hair out sometimes. There were days where I woke up and thought “Holy fuck, I can’t deal with this.” I mean, stick a bunch of girls in a room and we are bound to create drama, you’ve seen Mean Girls, right?
There was no burn book, no Gossip Girl website, no pillaging through the village and making people wear red “A’s” on their chest, but 20-year-old girls can definitely stir shit if you ask them to. About what you ask? Anything. About semi, about t-shirts, about parties, about something that really (if I’m being honest) didn’t matter. But it’s hard to see that when you’re in the thick of it. During my time I got upset about stupid things and when I look back, I think, “You dumb bitch, why did you lose sleep over a [insert inane topic here]?”
But you do, because at times being in a sorority was all-consuming. Your social life, your leadership activities, your academics can all get tangled up into Greek-life in the blink of an eye and sometimes it was too much.
The last thing I want to say on room for improvement is managing expectations. I joined my sorority and expected this instant feeling of “home”, an unrivaled connection among women sharing the same values. But that was so unrealistic, I was meeting strangers. There is no way we could immediately be best friends. Although I went on to make close friends in my sorority, it took me a really long time to feel comfortable. And still, as a senior there were times I felt out of touch with the girls in my sorority, I just learned to manage it better with time as I had such a strong network outside of the sorority as well.
4. Would I do it again?
Fuck. Yes. Did I want to pull my hair out? Uh-huh. Would I do it again? Yep.
I said earlier that I joined my sorority because I wanted to be something more. And I am now. I cannot give full credit to being in a sorority, but I would be daft to ignore the role they played. I don’t shit daisies made up of my sorority colours, and I don’t wake up going “Holy gee, my sorority sisters and the sun and the moon”. But I’m happy. I’ve met girls that will love me to the ends of the earth, and they’ve proved that time and time again. They come to my shows and talk to me when I have panic attacks and love me even when I’m a goddamn nightmare. Some of them proofread this post.
I became confident. I was constantly in a room full of 100 women with 100 different personalities and a million things to say. So, I needed to know how to be confident in myself to match the caliber of women I was with. It wasn’t sink or swim, but if I wanted someone to hear me, it was on me to make sure I was being heard.
I met bookers and photographers and musicians through being in a sorority. The reason I have this website is because I am a sorority girl. I have my career solely because of being in a sorority and I will never be able to repay that debt.
And yes, it was frustrating and yes, it wasn’t perfect, and yes there are days where I woke and couldn’t remember why I was supposed to love the organisation I was committed too. But isn’t that the way life goes? Nothing is only good or only bad. And all in all, being in a sorority was far more amazing than it was anything else. If I had to go back…actually if I got to go back, I don’t think I would change anything because it all made me who I am, and I’m a damn treat.
There are some words of wisdom I would like to leave behind for people in sororities or people who are looking back on their experience. Firstly, there will be times where being in a sorority will take more than it gives. I felt that in my last year, but you need to remember to feed the organisation that fed you, otherwise it can’t go on to support anyone else. Secondly, please, please, remember to be kind to one another. People have this preconceived notion that you need to be best friends with all 100 women in your sorority, that’s a lie. You can’t have 100 best friends, nobody has that social capacity. But be kind. Just ask how her day is going. Reach out. Tell her a funny story. Just be kind. And finally, buy at least one size up in recruitment t-shirts. At least.
And in spite of all this, I still know that being in a sorority is not for everyone. Frankly, I’m not even sure I’m a fan of the Greek System in spite of being a fan of sororities. I just wouldn’t be so quick to shit on the idea of sororities. I almost did but thank goodness I had an older sister who dragged me into recruitment. So, if you don’t have an older sister, the thing I would say to you is to go through recruitment and try it. Have an open mind and just see what happens. If you hate it, then you know, and you will probably meet people in recruitment who also hate it and then you have a new friend and a funny story. And if you love it, maybe in four years you’ll be telling your friend about how that crazy girl from that tiny blog got you to make a really amazing decision.
From me, with love, to you,