I preface this by saying we're all going to have different opinions and that's more than okay! We all have our own opinions and the great thing about that is that we're diverse and unique. This is my story, this may not, and maybe should not apply to you. That being said, I think this opens the door to have a conversation about the way that we see people, the way that we judge people on a daily basis and specifically how we judge people during the rushing and recruitment processes.
When I first drove onto my college campus I was greeted with several buses all labeled "RUSH", or with something along those lines. When the bus came to a stop, a plethora of girls piled out, wearing platform sandals, dresses and a full face of makeup. Considering it was the beginning of August and it was probably 80 something degrees outside, I was bewildered. How were they not sweating off their makeup? How were they not getting burned standing out in the sun for so long?
Recruitment seemed like an absolute nightmare. A walk down a Milan runway on fire: the heat's on, but you aren't allowed to sweat.
After I had settled into my dorm, I went ahead and starting meeting others. From there I met a girl, let's call her Ashley. She told me she was rushing and trying to get into a sorority. I knew a little about the rushing process, through my cousins who rushed and joined sororities at their colleges, but I was pretty much clueless about the process. Here's what I learned:
You wake up at 4 a.m. to do your roommate's hair and makeup because she doesn't know how then you do your own. You don't have time for breakfast because the bus comes at 6 and the dining hall isn't open yet. They're not feeding you until lunch, so you grab a snack beforehand… let's say a protein shake, or maybe a low-cal yogurt, true to the model. Then, it's chaos. You get onto the bus and travel to the different houses. You're debriefed like a sorority girl in a movie about a frat house, and then it's time for small talk. This is your time to shine. Shine, baby, but remember, you aren't allowed to sweat.
This is when the anxiety really starts to peak. If you don't have a good enough conversation, they won't like you, and then you won't get a callback, which means that you can't join their sorority. They don't WANT you, is what they're telling you. And as you get deeper and deeper into greek life natural selection, the outfits get more elaborate, by the end of the week your feet have blisters from uncomfortable heels. When you get back to the dorm after a long day, you're hunched over your phone, waiting for that phone call. You're hoping---wait, you're not hoping--for a call, because if they call, that means it's over. They don't want you. They don't see you there.
On the last days, you're sprinting in those heels as you run from one sorority house to the next. Now your choices are getting narrower, and, you have to make sure they want you. You have to make better impressions, you just have to, because today, they're not just talking to you, about your major and why you wanted to rush. How do you see yourself fitting in? Why us? Why should we have the privilege of choosing YOU?
To me, that sounds like the worst version of the college girl American nightmare. You're paying a lot of money for what I see as a week of self-torture. You're paying money for people to judge you, to look at you under a microscope and tell you that you're not good enough to be in their sorority, tell you that you can't sit with them at lunch and wear pink on Wednesdays. I was so confused.
They tell you that your appearance doesn't matter, anyone is welcome in the sorority. But then why would you have to wake up so early, and apply layers of makeup and hairspray? Don't get me wrong, I love makeup. I love wearing it and it makes me feel amazing, but at the same time, if they aren't judging you based off of your looks, why does everyone feel the pressure to put on a mask?
Why should your clothes matter either? If they care more about your interest in community service and your kindness towards others, why on earth would you have to dress nicer every single day? What's the point? To see if your clothes are as nice as your attitude, if they're as good a fit for you as you are for the sorority?
I didn't understand, and honestly, I still don't understand.
It hurt me to see someone unable to sleep because they were so anxious about getting a call. To see someone with heavy bags under their eyes because they were running around on limited food, probably dehydrated to make it on time to these houses.
Why did these girls have the right to judge them? What kind of entitlement allows these girls to choose if you fit the sorority mold? How does it make them feel, to know that they're making these girls feel judged, upset, tired? Aren't they supposed to be supportive and kind? Then why are they telling these girls, mostly freshman, that they don't belong?
It's still something that bothers me to this day. The culture of sororities is founded on the principle of exclusion, and I don't understand it at all. They're the reality tv of college: looks promising, filled with beautiful people, but something about them isn't quite authentic.
You're paying for people to accept you, but before that, you're paying for people to judge you. You're paying for people to look you up and down and decide your fate. To promise they'll be your "big" when they make the rest who didn't make it feel small.
People say you're not paying for friends, but what if you're too busy to make chapter? Then you're seen as disrespectful. What if you can't make it to a social? Then you're seen as not wanting to be apart of the sorority. And what if you want to quit? Then all of the 'sisters' that were right alongside you, being your friend, no longer look at you. If you quit your sorority, those friends that you made go right back to not knowing you, like it was your first day of rush and they're judging you up and down.
I'm sure this isn't always true, but hearing things from Ashley, from other girls who have wanted to drop out but were afraid of the social repercussions, it's true some of the time.
So, why would I, a girl who was never seen as pretty enough, as kind enough, as worth it, go through that week to join a group of girls who judged me? If I don't fit the mold of the perfect girl, am I even welcome?
I really don't understand.
When I look at the sorority girls that walk down the sidewalk, I see a people who are completely different than myself. I see girls who have name brand clothing, wear makeup, have their nails done. I see girls that use a lot of filters on their Instagram photos as they throw up their greek symbols. "Theta Chai Tea!" I see girls with perfect bodies. They aren't diverse, there's nothing different about one girl to the next. Look at them standing next to each other, they're all mirror-images of one another...
I don't look like them. So no, I don't feel welcome there.
Another girl--let's call her Caroline--told me this: "Once I graduated college, the girls I thought were my best friends weren't. Sorority friends, they're not the type of friends you invest everything into because they won't give you the same effort back. They're the type of friends you go shopping, drink wine, and watch reality TV with."
What's the point then?
To go to parties? Enjoy the typical "college experience"? Because your parents wanted you to? Because you wouldn't make friends any other way? Because you had thousands of dollars burning a hole in the pocket of your designer jeans?
If you think you can't make friends any other way then you're really selling yourself short.
I didn't join a sorority because I didn't want to be judged... They can preach all they want about the acceptance, and love, and care, and time, but it doesn't matter because I know who I am and I know who they are. I don't fit in with the people I know who joined a sorority. They know that I don't fit the "sorority type".
But, what is the "sorority type"? If everyone is welcomed, if everyone is encouraged to rush, doesn't that mean everyone is fit to be in a sorority?
I didn't join a sorority, and honestly, I'm glad. I'm glad that I'm not being judged for who I am, and whether you fully agree with me or not, you can't say I'm 100% wrong. I'm glad that I know for a fact the people I talk to and hang out with want me there. They aren't obligated to spend time with me.
I'm sure those who join sororities have the time of their lives, and they join for their own reasons. They join for their own reasons just like I didn't join for my own reasons. We all have different perspectives, and that's fine.
Maybe if I had gone to a different school, maybe if I had been born into a different environment, maybe this maybe that. The world is filled with maybes, and there's no way for us to know everything.
But something I do know is my decision to not join a sorority was right for me. It was the right choice for me to make in order to be who I was without any fear of judgment.
I didn't join a sorority, and honestly, I'm so happy I didn't.