I used to wear my sorority’s letters everywhere; they were a part of my identity and I even allowed them to morph my personality for a time. My sisters were a reflection of me and I was a reflection of my sisters and I took this very seriously.
When someone made an argument against sororities, and Greek Life in general, I myself began to question my life in my sorority. Eventually, I stopped wearing my letters altogether – cold turkey.
I joined, initially, because I had felt invisible after suffering a loss and was miserable after enduring personal heartache. The sorority provided companionship and organization, a list of tasks and activities that needed to be done monthly and even weekly that I felt would give me the push I needed. It did. I started to get back into campus life, joining clubs, my academics started to improve and I was getting back on track to achieving the goals I had for the future. I made some amazing friends in my sorority, even in other chapters on campus. I had the opportunity to collaborate with different thinkers and to aid in the growth of organizations that extended beyond the sorority. I was happy; I felt safe there.
What started out as an unintentional style change turned into the pushing of sorority “memorabilia” to the back of my closet. Maybe it had something to do with my mandated business casual classes that had popped up in my last couple of years, or my desire to reflect my personality through my style and separate myself from the “herd” of sorority girls on campus.
I’m a passionate person. I dedicated myself to the things I cared about, I still do.
The sorority was great with providing a support system when I needed it closer to the beginning of my university career and when I joined. I really devoted myself to it, expressing my ideas, opinions and desires for what it would become in the future.
Eventually I reorganized my priorities, and I couldn’t afford the sorority to be at the top of my list anymore. When I was taking risks for my future and trying to figure out what was ahead of me after graduation, when I started to question my place in a society that existed beyond my little university bubble, my problems and priorities were not relatable to my sorority anymore. While my sorority introduced me to some of my closest friends, I desired deeper conversation, more inclusive and accepting of differences in the opinions I was hearing, and just different conversations altogether.
Toward the end my undergraduate years, my sorority stopped feeling like part of my identity and more just like something I did and was happy to be a part of. I had tried to make the conscious decision to become more passively involved. The person I was at the beginning of my sorority life and the person I had grown into by graduation just weren’t the same.
I felt at odds, worn out, and torn apart.
Academia attempts to teach us to separate arguments from personal feelings, to deal with disagreements appropriately and handle situations with dignity and mutual respect. Academia doesn’t force you to be best friends. That is the difference between classmates and sorority sisters. We had lost our ability to be objective in that room, to look at the many point of views and to not take opinions of a subject matter so personally, because a sorority doesn’t mirror academia in every way. We weren’t just colleagues, we were sisters; it made things feel more intense and serious.
I felt guilty for branching out from my sisters, for sharing my opinions and staying close to people who were consistently there for me regardless of whether or not we had the same perspective, and that’s not how friendships should work. I worked to cultivate those positive relationships; those are the people who stay. I needed people who didn’t point fingers or ostracize you for seeing something in a different way; the ones that wouldn’t just ask the difficult questions but would help you try to find the solution to them.
I needed conversations and relationships that extended beyond the confines of the sorority, because I was trying to make decisions for my future.
I needed space to grow without my sorority for a while. I am thankful for the experiences that I had with my sisters, and I acknowledge that I was able to do some of what I did because of their support and sometimes their guidance. But it made me lose myself a little.
I respect my sisters. I wouldn’t discourage anyone from joining Greek Life. Instead, to the people who ask, I would advise them to give it a try but branch out beyond it while in university. Everyone gets something different out of this experience, at one point in time I really needed the sorority to help provide structure and pick up the pieces of what had been my life. I grew and got to put myself back together there, in the safety of what had been my sisterhood. It just wasn’t what I needed at the end. It is okay to outgrow your sorority, it is okay to want to move on from it, and it is okay to keep your post-grad life to yourself and your loved ones.
There are incredible people everywhere; it would be such a shame to deny that they exist in any kind of social circle and my experience does not overshadow that. In anything, you have to learn to keep an eye out for yourself, to remember that you matter and deserve to be there as much as anyone else, make room for uncomfortable conversations and understand the existence of opinion, even when others forget. Academia, and the sorority, taught me that those open to differences in opinion and disagreement could make us stronger because they are open to hearing you before condemning you.
Featured Image via Allureable.