This is the third in a multi-part tale of my experience with Greek life and sororities. This is not meant to offend, put down, or upset anyone about being in a sorority or being Greek (I was one too!). It is just my recount of how I became Greek, what happened once I became Greek, and how I ended my affiliation. Please do not take this offensively in any way.
I accepted my bid from my sorority and had my formal pledging ceremony in my white dress that was sprinkled with green, blue, and pink flowers. I still remember having a zit on my face that was so big and under-the-surface that I could barely smile for the pictures. I was given my “big sister” at this chapter-held ceremony in a lecture hall classroom since our sorority did not have a house. Once I walked out of that first chapter meeting, I was immediately thrown into a social array of activities called “sorority life.”
Our first social was a “white house, black market” theme at a nightclub in the area. I quickly bonded with a girl who also had a love for dancing on stages and high boxes at clubs. We had a sisterhood event where we were given facials and watched movies while eating pizza and bread sticks. My pledge class had a new member retreat where we dove head first into learning about the sorority, its songs, its values, and each other. We all grew so close as a pledge class that night and by the end of the retreat, we were unified as the “eta class.”
My pledge class had the amazing opportunity to be initiated along with another spring pledge class from another university in our state–Florida State University. I had absolutely no idea on this earth what to expect for an initiation and to be perfectly honest–I was freaked out beyond my wildest dreams. You always hear of initiation stories being the ultimate hazing stories–the ones where the already initiated members make the “pledges” do crazy things that can sometimes even jeopardize the pledges’ lives. I didn’t think that this sorority, based on what I already knew about them, was capable of doing anything to hurt me, but I honestly had no idea what was going on the entire ceremony. Some girls in my pledge class may tell you that I was hilarious, asking so many questions and laughing as I was being ushered into the ceremony because I was so scared and feared the unknown. Others may say I ruined the initiation process because I didn’t take it serious enough. Truthfully: I was freaked out and had never been a part of anything like this before. It wasn’t what I was used to and I had no warning what was going to happen as I hadn’t really known a lot of people that were Greek. (Plus, if you can’t tell by my already-present vagueness, initiation is a serious ritual that is not spoken of except through sisters of the same sorority) I left initiation at FSU that weekend feeling like I was finally let in on all of the “secrets.” There was no longer a division between us, the new member class, and the rest of the sisters. We had all become unified and shared secrets that we will have with us until we die. Once initiated, always initiated; once a sister, ALWAYS a sister.
Even through my new member period and once I was initiated, I struggled a lot with “fitting in” with the rest of the girls. I knew that I had a lot of potential to be close with a lot of them, but I just always felt like I wasn’t fully immersing into it all the way and therefore felt like I wasn’t fitting in with everyone else. Looking back on it, I believe there were two major things that contributed to my feeling this way:
- Throughout my four years in college, I always worked. I worked at Panera, I worked at Cheesecake Factory, and I worked at Panera again. The last year I was in my sorority, I was promoted to manager at Panera and therefore started working much, much more than my mere fifteen hours a week at Cheesecake. I had to work so I could pay for my living expenses as well as split my dues with my parents. I could no longer participate in everything, couldn’t give “110%” to my sorority, and therefore wasn’t always around at events. Not because I didn’t want to be, but because I couldn’t be.
- I was, as previously described, never a true “sorority girl.” I don’t believe I was “destined” to be in a sorority nor do I believe that it was “the thing for me” or “the best decision I’ve ever made in my life.” I do believe, however, without a doubt, that I joined the right one. I just wasn’t the most thrilled girly-girl in the chapter about all-things-Greek, including certain fraternities which I will not name.
Those two issues alone were enough to build up a lot of frustration inside of me. I hardly noticed any other girls who had work for their dues, who couldn’t attend things because they had to work to pay for them, and certainly no one would ever admit they weren’t the girliest-of-all-girls-sorority-girl-gung-ho-about-all-things-Greek. Although, clearly, this was all just my perception. There is “more than meets the eye” and I found this out quicker than I could have ever imagined.