First, a little note: This article is going to be more candid than some of my previous, and is less about addressing some central issue than it is talking about my feelings. Me, being emotional? What's new, right? Now to begin…
At the start of each semester, I enter school excited to explore all the organizations available to students. This past month, I've spent hours and hours going through USC's Registered Student Orgs and came up with a list of just 120 orgs. Don't worry, I've since narrowed it down to 21 and, yes, I'm still working on it.
On that mile-long list was the Greek life system. Sorority life has appealed to me since I was exposed to college (and actually had some understanding of college extracurricular life). I love the idea of sisterhood, I definitely enjoy community service, and I like to think that I can call myself a scholar.
Entertaining the thought of actually rushing scared the hell out of me, though. So I decided to go for it. I knew if I didn't try the rush process, I would dwell on the "what-ifs" for a long time, if not forever.
I paid the registration fee, which was 120 dollars since I waited till the last minute. The registration process was pretty simple, and I've honestly forgotten what most of it entailed, other than having to submit a resume and headshot.
Recruitment was different this year since there are now two formal rush processes (one during fall and one during spring) since first-semester freshmen are no longer allowed to apply. This semester, there were five total days, each requiring its own type of outfit.
The week leading up to rush, I psyched myself out worrying and proceeded to spend an absurd amount of money revamping my wardrobe in order to fit in. I don't think I bought the clothes solely to fit in, as I love them all. But pressure to conform did exist, for sure. I still refused to wear makeup, though, because that's just me at the time being.
My nerves were acting up so much I nearly threw up on the morning of Day One. Around 600 girls and I met in a big ballroom on campus early Saturday morning. The first girl I introduced myself to was so uninvolved in the already awkward conversation that when she spotted her friend, she didn't even turn around to say bye. I tried to dismiss that and started talking to people in my group, a few of whom were really sweet.
The ballroom was split into several groups and my group soon set out to The Row and walked up to Pi Beta Phi, our first house. We were instructed to line up alphabetically, in three or four rows, and stand up straight while putting on beautiful smiles. I was doing alright but our recruitment counselors' urgent tones while telling us to line up was nerve-wracking.
Soon enough, the door to the house opened and two ladies stepped out; I believe they were the chapter president and vice president of recruitment. They walked up to us, hand-in-hand with big smiles, introduced themselves, and said, "We are so excited to have you today. Please follow us inside." They proceeded to swivel around and we followed suit while staying in our line order.
The girls inside the house were swaying back and forth, chanting their mantra a bit ominously, and darted out one by one as each Prospective New Member (PNM) entered the house. I was greeted by a girl and she guided me to spot on the back patio and we started talking about why Greek life, my major, our interests, traveling, and the like. Every so often, one of her sisters would come up and replace the previous sister, and we'd start the conversation as appropriate.
Writing all of this out makes the whole process sound incredibly dorky to me but it was terrifying in person, and I stumbled on my words so many times trying to figure out what to talk about. I also have trouble projecting my voice so I was struggling to speak loud enough.
This scenario played out for the remaining nine houses, with several breaks in between. I genuinely did enjoy some conversations, but there were several shallow, meaningless conversations that just naturally come with having to talk to someone you've never met for five uninterrupted minutes.
Our day finally ended around seven at night, and Day Two rolled around. New outfit, same prepared smile, continued anticipation.
The Panhellenic Council released our schedules via email and everyone was chattering excitedly about the houses they were asked back to. I checked my schedule and I was invited back to…one. One house. Out of ten.
It stung. I could feel the tears tugging at my eyes but I just acted alright and kept a cool demeanor on the outside. I saw a couple of girls crying and my heart went out to them. Side note: if you are driven to tears over not being accepted by an org, please know that there was a reason for it. Your acceptance or rejection does not define your worth; maybe it wasn't the right time or maybe that org just isn't for you – be with those who make you feel welcome.
I felt very discouraged in that moment and wanted to just give up but forced myself to go the one house that gave me a chance, Gamma Phi Beta. I couldn't help but wonder what it was. My lack of makeup? General failure to look like a "sorority girl"? Personality clashes? Being a junior?
I attended GPhi's Day Two and did not vibe with the girls I had conversations with and, as such, was dropped or, as they phrased it in the voicemail the following week, "released." Of course I was disappointed and upset. Of course I shed a few tears. No one likes to be rejected. But everyone has to experience it.
I'm proud of myself for deciding to rush Greek life. It was scary and I wanted to go back on my word so many times but I did it. I didn't make the cut and my experience wasn't revolutionary, but it's still something for me. I now know that a sorority isn't something for me, and I will go on to try all those other orgs on my list.
Greek life is not for everyone and that is absolutely okay. If it appeals to you, go for it and don't let anyone stop you. Honestly, let me hit peak cheesiness and say, just do what makes you happy. This is your college experience.