Sunday, November 04, 2012

Sorority Girl

Anytime someone finds out that I was in a sorority in college, they usually have the same reaction, "Oh really?? You don't strike me as the 'sorority type' (whatever that means)." I guess because of what people see in movies and on television, there's an image that comes to mind of sorority girls. Usually the girl is super pretty, thin, super popular, and is on the ditzy side. Elle Woods from Legally Blonde is a typical example of what many think of.

Don't get me wrong, I've seen the sororities with Elle Woods clones. I think most people would be surprised to know that most people who join a sorority, do it with the purpose of making friends. Everyone wants to have someone in their corner, and regardless of how we meet our friends, it's important to feel connected. 

Just like there was more to meet the eye with Elle Woods (she wasn't as dumb as everyone thought she was), for a lot of women, there's more to being in a sorority than what meets the eye. 

When I decided to look at joining a sorority, it wasn't because I didn't have friends. In fact, I was a proud member of Phi Sigma Pi Coed National Honor Fraternity and had MANY friends. I was the president of the Alpha Phi chapter, when I decided to pursue joining a sorority.

I decided to pursue joining a sorority because I wanted to know what it was like to belong to a group of just women. I joined Phi Sigma Pi in 1996 when I first started at EMU. I KNEW it was a group that I wanted to join, because my suitemate at MSU, Mandy, was a member of the Beta Sigma chapter at State. She loved it and I thought it was an awesome organization. So when I transferred to EMU, the first group that I wanted to join was PSP. 

I loved being in an honors fraternity. I didn't enjoy having to explain that while yes, it was a fraternity, women were allowed in (thank you, Title IX). Trying to explain that I had brothers who were women was confusing for most people. My PSP brothers were my heart and soul. They "got" me and I loved that our tripod was founded on Scholarship, Fellowship, and Leadership. All three were so important to me.

But something was still missing. I went to an open recruitment event with my fellow PSP brother, Kate (she was an Alpha Gam from Central Michigan and had transferred back to EMU and rejoined our chapter of PSP). Kate and I went and I wasn't sure what to expect.

In fact, what I expected didn't happen.

I expected not to like anyone. I expected to feel judged, and I expected to feel like an outsider and like I could never fit in.

But none of that happened. In fact, I felt totally at home. I walked away and couldn't wait to go back. I prayed that they liked me as much as I liked them, and to my delight, they did.

My grandbig in PSP, Denise, her sister Brenda, was the president of AGD when I went through open recruitment. We shared a connection and I immediately liked her. I liked everyone that I met, and that same week when I was at the bar, Brenda came up to me and basically told me that I was "in." My whole night was made!

Being a member of a sorority was fun. I got to establish friendships with women who have become so very important to who I am today. 

Sure, we had a few members who liked to party with the fraternity boys more than others. We had some drama queens, and we had some members who I never got to know because they were not always warm and welcoming. But you'll have that with any organization. What I did have were women who looked like me, had similar likes and interests, thought that academics were important (I think there were more women in my sorority with 4.0s than in my honors fraternity!).

I loved the philanthropic portion of AGD. I loved doing things for others and I liked coming together with my sisters, to help others in need. I liked telling people about AGD and what we stood for, and why we were awesome. 

One of the greatest parts of joining a sorority was the connections I was able to make because of it. I made friends on campus who were in other sororities. I even (GASP) made friends with some fraternity boys who helped me see that I had a narrow view of fraternities and that I was guilty of putting them into the box that I was desperate to tell others NOT to put sororities into!

If I ever have a daughter, I would for sure encourage her to join a sorority when she goes to college. Maybe not right away, but at some point in her time there, I would want her to see if Greek life is for her. 

It's not for everyone. Committing to other people isn't easy. Maintaining good grades and being involved in various activities isn't something that everyone CAN or SHOULD do. It's hard work to dedicate your time to something that doesn't always benefit just you. However, there are so many great things that can come from joining a sorority. Things that I've taken into my adult life, and things that I used when I became a teacher.

I think more than anything, being a member of a women-only organization helped prepare me to work in a field that's 99% women. Knowing how to communicate with others, share opinions, and work together on a common project are things that I did in AGD, and things I did all the time with my female coworkers.

I guess my point in writing this is just to share that there's a lot more to a sorority than just parties. I was never hazed, and honestly, if someone had tried to haze me, I would have turned them in. I joined at a time when I was more mature, and had solid experience with PSP under my belt. I knew what a kick-ass organization PSP was, and I had nothing to lose by joining AGD. I wasn't desperate for anything other than a different experience.

When my ex-husband (we were engaged at the time that I joined AGD) found out that I wanted to join a sorority, he FLIPPED out. He was very much against it, and just knew that I'd turn into a cheating slut and only go to fraternity parties. 

He had the same negative stereotypes in his head that most of the general public has (thanks to all those who've made dumb choices and have given sororities a bad name). When he and I went through our divorce, it was my very dear friends from AGD who were there to help me through the most difficult part of my life thus far.

And I always defended why I, "bought my friends" to him, but every penny I paid for dues to belong to my sorority were worth it. The people that I am closest to today, were in my sorority.

This is not to discredit the friends from PSP. It's apples and oranges. The friendships through PSP are rock-solid and DEEP. So very deep. I have four people from PSP whom I still talk to regularly and still mean the world to me-- they always will. 

However, when I say I was in an honors fraternity, people usually think it's awesome and have a positive reaction. If I say I was in a sorority, it's usually not so positive. Both were awesome and both made me into the person I am today. And I think I'm pretty awesome. :-)

"How I love those Alpha Gams, so deep deep, so down down in my heart!"


Kate said... Best Blogger Tips[Reply to comment]Best Blogger Templates

Love this and love my brother/sister that is you!

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