There's a lot of ways to tell someone he/she is not good enough. You're not the right size, you don't have a high enough GPA, you're not cut out for the job, you're too shy, etc. There's also a lot of ways to interpret those comments. So I don't deserve to take up space? I'm stupid? I'm lazy? No one likes me? There's too many ways to be told you're not good enough. I know because I've been told a lot of them.
We've all been a part of this society for a while now, so I'm going to assume we all are aware of the general concept that the male "should be" the more dominant/ larger figure than the female. Now imagine that expectation amplified times ten (Imagine a small, fragile daisy and a large rock). This is the image all ice dance teams are supposed to fit. I was eleven and my partner was 12, and somehow my body was more similar to the sturdy rock and his, the gentle daisy. We worked around it and I lifted him at a competition. We were a brand new team, didn't understand any rules, and basically still thought this whole skating thing was all play. It was the most fun thing I'd ever done, until my partner and I became a joke. "Oh my gosh! You're the girl who lifts the boy! That's hilarious". But what wasn't hilarious about the situation is that it caused me to spiral down into self loathing and then an eating disorder that consumed 4 years of my life. I wanted to be "small enough" because that was my attempt at being good enough.
As a competitive athlete, it is hard to do enough. Everyone can always work harder, do more, be better. I was told I was lazy and would never go anywhere. I take words to heart and those stuck with me. These were the types of words that caused me to continue to harm myself because I took them so close to heart and I believed them. I not only believed them, I also thought about them constantly. Words are powerful, but actions hurt too. The first boy I ever loved left me because of my scars and my suffering. This wasn't meant to hurt me, and I could never blame him, but it reinforced that idea that I didn't matter enough. My next boyfriend claimed to love me more than he'd ever loved anyone, yet, stopped talking to me out of nowhere one day. Was it because I wasn't good enough? And the last guy I was with had too many things going on to be there for me. I figured I wasn't important enough.
I went into Sorority Recruitment weekend with the fear that none of the 10 sororities would want me. So many people have told me in so many different ways that I wasn't worthy, I expected the same with this process. Then I stepped foot into Alpha Phi on first datebook. I was met by this unbelievably radiant girl with the bluest eyes and the most stunning long red hair. I was even more scared now. I had heard things about this sorority that made me think I wouldn't like it or make any deep connections. Then I started talking to this girl and, in less than 10 minutes, my whole story spilled out of me. I talked about my blog, and my history of an eating disorder, and my love for wellness and supporting girls. She absolutely lit up and shared her love for the same topics, and told me she thought what I'm doing is amazing and I felt so appreciated in that moment that it did not even seem real. I left that house the first day feeling good enough, something I had not felt in a long time.
The second night at Alpha Phi they introduced their philanthropy: improving women's heart health. This topic is really prevalent to my family. My grandma had a stroke before I met her and lost her ability to walk and form words. My grandpa has been the healthiest, happiest guy my whole life until a couple years ago when he was diagnosed with parkinsons. In the last few months, my grandpa has had multiple strokes, has had stents put in his heart and has had carotid artery surgery; and last weekend he was put into a nursing home. After learning about their philanthropy, the girl I was partnered up with came to me and I told her about my grandpa and his sickness. I told her how my grandpa was an english teacher and a writer and how writing is my passion now too and that's why I have this blog. I poured my heart out and she caught it in her hands and held it so tightly for me. She listened with tears in her eyes, and I felt so insanely cared for and loved. We bonded over our love for wellness and all things building up strong girls. She told me she had chills and I am an inspiration to her. This kind, beautiful, genuine girl saw me as an inspiration and someone she wants to be close to. I have never in my life felt like I mattered so much. The girls in Alpha Phi showed me I deserve to take up space.
I went into sorority recruitment full of nerves. I had no idea what to expect. My brain was full of preconceived notions and a whole lot of self doubt. I was afraid I would only have surface level conversations and not be able to be myself. But most of all, I was afraid of not being good enough. Of course, I got dropped from some great houses and it did hurt a little. I did have some meaningless conversations. But I also met some incredible girls while waiting in line in the 100 degree heat. I made tons of friends who ended up in different sororities and loved cheering them on throughout their journeys. I laughed a lot. I felt like I was going to throw up a lot. I cried a lot. And I finally learned that just by being myself, I am good enough.
To my Alpha Phi sisters, thank you for letting me be me. You know who you are. I love you an insane amount already, and I can not wait to be sisters for life.