I don’t have regrets about joining a sorority. In fact, I am very grateful that I went through this experience. I was able to meet women who I formed a life lasting friendship with. I had the chance to engage in leadership opportunities, which I probably would not have had the same chance otherwise. There’s much to say about every experience: the good, the bad, and the ugly. But, I’m not here to talk about that. I’m not here to out the drama that happens when 150 woman come together to have a discussion about dramatic events. I’m not here to share personal issues that every chapter experiences individually. I just want to clear the air and tell you what it’s NOT. This is an honest “yelp review” of what it means to be in a sorority.
The marketing for sorority life is filled with women who are happy and whole. Stories are often shared about how joining a sorority changed someone’s life and made them into the person they are today. But, the reality of the situation is that joining a sorority is not finding the Lord, Jesus Christ. It’s not some freeing experience and it’s most certainly not sisterhood of the traveling pants. This is what is advertised. The marketing for sorority life is exceptional and I applaud the marketing crew. They are truly successful and their skills should be rewarded with high financial compensation. They truly are great at what they do. At this point in my life, I found myself wanting to fit in somewhere. I thought that in a sorority, I would find a sisterhood filled with genuine friendships, which I had craved for so long.
I was the perfect sorority candidate. I was bubbly, happy, and stylish. But, this version of me faded as I spiraled into a depression. Like a domino effect, it all happened so fast, and it hit me like a ton of bricks. I had a death in the family that effected me a great deal. During the time that he was ill, the surgery and rehabilitation took place nearly 600 miles away for two reasons: 1) insurance and 2) because we really believed it was the best hospital. Having a close family member in a life or death situation 600 miles away leaves you in a state of heightened fear constantly. The only way you know any information is by calling. Every call was either going to be positive or negative. He was either going to get better or get worse. It was rarely ever the case that he was doing the same. In this state of worry, you’re only way of surviving is by holding up the fort. You don’t let yourself break, no matter how much you’re cracking. The same thing happened when my baby girl, Luna Mia, was poisoned by a toad. I arrived to the animal hospital faster than speeding bullet. I was concerned, but poised. As soon as the vet took her in her arms, that’s when I broke down. I think we intuitively are aware of when we need strength and when we can give into our emotions. His illness was not a time to give into my emotions. It was in my best interest to be a rock to everyone around me.
But after he passed away, that’s when the cracks finally broke. The pain in my chest grew rapidly, but I had no time to care for myself. I dealt with this while working a full time job, a second part-time job, taking a full time load of classes, and meeting the requirements of being in the sorority. I started spiraling slowly, but surely. The bags under my eyes were reaching the floor. My hair was always in a messy bun. I was so incredibly tired. I ran on about 5 hours of sleep a night. I was driving home from my second job around 7pm and I had to pull over because I legitimately thought I was having a heart attack at the age of 22. I opened the car door and started throwing up. My vision was blurred. My fingers were purple. If you would have seen me, you would have thought I was dying. Low and behold the effects of chronic stress (http://www.mindbodygreen.com/0-9527/10-signs-you-have-way-too-much-cortisol.html) . This is what happens when a person has reached their limits. Since that day, I have never been the same. I don’t discourage challenge, but, try to remember that there are only 24 hours in a day. I had quite a few friends stick by me at my worse. People who saw past the messy bun and the dark circles. People who saw my life for what it truly was: a grieving person trying to hold it all together: her job, her school, her life. But, to the chapter as a whole, I was invisible. I only held value when I was the epitome of what was advertised at every recruitment event.
To make matters even more offensive, during recruitment, I was told by someone not to share with the potential new members that I was adopted. The topic came up because someone asked me about heritage. I am no stranger to this occurrence. It happens all the time! People are always asking me if I’m Irish or Russian, especially people who are not from Miami. Then they say… where did you get your accent? I love being the unique individual that I am. I don’t find myself “weird” because I deviate from the “norm” in this respect. It just makes me unique. I can understand how some things are inappropriate to share at an event. You wouldn’t share that you are a recovered drug addict. The point of recruitment is to mimic a professional environment. You become keenly aware of how to talk to people, how to hold positive conversation. Thus, it’s not the appropriate time to to delve into emotional or controversial topics. But, this is not controversial. This is a fact. This is a legal process that occurred. It is documented and notarized. I am not interested in anyone’s opinions. The purpose of sharing was not to engage in a debate, but rather, to answer the question: where did I get my accent from? What would they have preferred? For me to lie? How convenient that must be, huh? To erase yourself and conform to something that fits into a nice, neat box with a bow and not have to share something about yourself that makes you different. Adoption doesn’t change race or ethnicity. If you can’t accept that, then you should just purchase a doll and save everybody the anguish. Don’t adopt children and raise another generation of people as dumb as you.
This is discrimination and unfortunately, discrimination does happen in Greek Life. You recruit based off of your preferences, without any type of real, solid qualifications in place. You’re recruiting people for a clique but sugar-coating it with words such as “sisterhood,” “home,” and “baby *insert mascot here*.” I was enamored during my recruitment process because I would hear girls introduce each other as “my sister.” People’s social media was always filled with cute pictures that usually contained matching shirts and a quote about sisterhood. But, this is part of the marketing process. It’s not to say that you won’t meet genuine people. I did. But, the marketing for sororities portrays that you will find a home away from home, when in reality, that’s not what this is. Being in a sorority can be compared to a part-time job or any other campus involvement. There’s a standards committee in place to hold people accountable. There is no alcohol served at events. In fact, active members cannot be caught drinking alcohol or holding a red cup while wearing sorority memorabilia. There’s a dress code for chapter meetings, which is strictly outlined in the handbook. If you are not dressed appropriately, which can mean that you’re shirt was sleeveless, for instance, you will not be allowed into the chapter meeting. If for any reason, you’re grades were to drop, you would be suspended. There is absolutely nothing wrong with these standards. I applaud the fact that this is not an open invitation to be wild. The issue is that it is presented as a community of friends who gather together to drink tea and have mixers. It’s advertised as a community where you could let your guard down and be yourself. And this is precisely what it is NOT! If you get too comfortable, if the smile comes off, if you’re falling apart, you will be held accountable and penalized. At the very least, you will be looked at differently. It’s a professional atmosphere cloaked in superficial friendship.
I reiterate that I DO NOT have a problem with this. This is how every organization on campus works. But, sororities primarily do not draw in crowds that are interested in that, because that part of the story is never advertised. People come for the sisterhood, the friendships, and to be part of a “family.” I think that people are vastly disappointed when they discover what it really is… not because it’s “bad,” but because it’s deceiving. I think a lot would be solved if there was honesty in the marketing. If it were presented as an opportunity to grow and develop leadership skills and give back to the community, it would be honest. But then again… just like in adoption… honesty means a great loss of money. If you can gain the same in the Pre-Health Club that you would in a Greek organization, why would you join the one where you have to pay? Trying to turn in the invaluable into a monetary figure has become the trend. If you want to join because you want the experience and you want to break out your shell, by all means! But, join for the honest reason. Don’t be coerced into joining for something that these types of organizations cannot provide you.