The Big-Little Relationship: It's For A Lifetime, Not A Little Time

The Big-Little Relationship: It's For A Lifetime, Not A Little Time

I’m not saying you have to be best friends. Just be the best you can be for another person.
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Type ‘sorority, big and little’ in the search tab on Pinterest – pages upon pages, upon pages of gifts, crafts, articles on ways to budget, and reveal pictures, pop up. Picturesque young ladies with a cute tank top that says ‘big’ on it, with her little on her shoulders, their letters gleaming in the background. In every picture, the girls look so thrilled, so enthralled with their new sister; so grateful to have that other person in their life.

For anybody that is new to a sorority or is not in Greek Life at all, the idea of big and little is hard to comprehend. You join a sorority, you get a big; that big also has a big whom they received when they first joined. That big – aka your grandbig – could also have another little; your big’s twin. That twin could have a little of her own, making her your cousin. It’s a family tree with branches and connections, severed ties, and leaves sprouting with every new semester. And it’s no wonder people get confused at the mention of it.

The idea of big and little, however, is very simple. If you are the little, you are not required to be attached at the hip of the big. If you are the big, you are not required to be the best friend of your little. When you take a little, you are signing up to be so much more. It should not be taking someone as a little just to say you have a little. The big is supposed to be the mentor, the best of both a friend and a mother; the definition of a sister. Someone who looks out for their mentee, makes sure their transition from high school to college, teenager to adult (perhaps one of the hardest things a person, especially a young woman, can go through) is as seamless and as enjoyable as can be. Someone who puts their little’s happiness and comfort above all else, within reason. Someone their little can call in the dead of night and count on for something as small as a tampon, or as significant as a broken heart. Someone they know is going to love them no matter what.

Amid this ‘contract,’ the little is bound to some conditions as well. No, they are not required to agree with everything their big does; they are not required to listen to every word they say, for we know deep down, just like a mother to a child, they aren’t going to always listen. But they, too, are agreeing to love their big no matter what. They are agreeing to be trustworthy, patient and understanding, and there for their big whenever they need it. (And trust me, big’s will need it.)

Once you have signed up for this, you’ve signed up for life. This doesn’t mean necessarily being in one another’s wedding or the godmother of their children – although it is a special and revered circumstance when it does happen. This means that, that person knows forever that there is someone out there who cares for them endlessly, even after all else have faded away.

Somewhere along the way, we lose sight of those blissfully happy girls in the photographs; we lose sight of one another. Don’t be ashamed: it happens to all of us. Big or little, it doesn’t matter, sooner or later one begins to take the other for granted. If that’s never happened to you, you’re either A) lying or B) a much better person than the rest of us.

In any journey, there reaches a point in which the roads turn from pavement to gravel, from gravel to the bumpy sod of the earth. We ride along, thinking everything is fine – convincing ourselves of it – firm in believing that the rough patch will end, that we will find pavement once again. We push through, laying our foot harder on the pedal, thinking the more gas we give it, the gentler the ride will be. All the while, thinking, ‘I should have just turned back when I hit gravel.’ But, there is no turning back; we’ve already given it everything we’ve got, and depleted our fuel in doing so. Now, we have two choices: we can either abandon our efforts and turn back, knowing the costs if we do, or we can forge ahead on foot, persistent and true.

Even though the pictures are lovely, some of them aren’t real. (Remember, people, stock photos exist.) Even if they are, they are not true to you and your own situation with your big or little. They are not a portrait to live up to, and you should not enter a relationship with the intention of looking like the girls in the pictures on Pinterest. This relationship is not a show; not a social media goal. We put too much emphasis on what people think of us, whether it’s on social media or the generalized others out in the world – and I’ll be the first to admit I do it too. But the big-little relationship is not founded in the basis of how many cute pictures you can take, how many likes you get, or how many people in your chapter tell you that you and your big/little are #goals. I’d like to think it is worth so much more than that. Just because there’s a problem – or because it strays too far from the photo online – does not mean it’s over. Once you’ve committed – whether you are a big or a little – you do not get to pick and choose who to replace the other because you’re angry. It is a lifelong relationship, and a meaningful one at that. A relationship that you can look back on after your college years and be ultimately thankful for.

So, when you hit the dirt road on your journey – and we all do some time or another – remember what you fought for, what you are still fighting for. Keep going, and don’t let it just be a picture on social media.

Cover Image Credit: https://www.etsy.com/listing/238085298/big-little-shirt-comfort-colors-top?ref=related-1

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22 New Things That I Want To Try Now That I'm 22

A bucket list for my 22nd year.

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"I don't know about you but I'm feelin' 22," I have waited 6 long years to sing that and actually be 22! Now 22 doesn't seem like a big deal to people because you can't do anything that you couldn't do before and you're still super young. But I'm determined to make my 22nd year a year filled with new adventures and new experiences. So here's to 22.

1. Go sky diving.

What's crazier than jumping out of a plane? (Although I'll probably try indoor skydiving first.)

2. Go cliff jumping/diving.

I must be the only Rhode Islander who hasn't gone to Jamestown and jumped off a cliff.

3. Ride in a hor air balloon.

Up, up and away.

4. Try out skiing.

Cash me in the next Olympics, how bout dat.

5. Try out snow boarding.

Shawn White, I'm coming for you.

6. Go bungee jumping.

Because at least this time I'll be attached to something.

7. Go to Portugal.

I mean I'm Portuguese so I have to go at some point, right?

8. Go to Cape Verde.

Once again, I'm Cape Verdean so I have to go.

9. Vist one of the seven wonders of the world.

I mean hey, Egypt's on, my bucket list.

10. Try out surfing.

It's only natural that somebody from the Ocean State knows how to surf.

11. Learn a new langauge.

Because my little bit of Portuguese, Spanish and Latin isn't cutting it anymore.

12. Travel to a state that I've never been to before.

Fun fact: I've only been to 17 of the 50 states.

13. Go paddle boarding.

Pretty boring but I've never done it.

14. Go scuba diving.

I'm from the Ocean State so I guess I should see the ocean up close and personal.

15. Learn how to line dance.

There's actually a barn in my state that does line dancing, so this one will definitely get crossed off.

16. Go kayaking.

All this water around me and I haven't done a lot of the water activites.

17. Stay the night in a haunted hotel room.

I bet if I got my friends to come with me, it would be like the Suite Life of Zach and Cody episode, minus the ghost coming out of the wall but you never know.

18. Get my palms read.

Because who doesn't want to know their future.

19. Go to a medium.

Like a medium that can communicate with people that have died.

20. Take a helicopter ride.

Air plane: check Helicopter:....

21. Sleep under the stars.

Because sleeping in a tent is more like glamping than camping

22. Just to try new things in my everyday life.

Whether it's trying a new restaurant, getting something different at my usual restaurants, changing my usual style, going on the scary rides at amusement parks, and bringing things I used to do back into my life now.

Cover Image Credit:

Author's illustration

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I Have No Label

Labels aren't for everyone, and I'm one of them.

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There's a huge pressure from society for people to know things about themselves—what they want to do with their life, what career they want to be tethered to, where they plan on being five years from now—that we really shouldn't add more pressure by requiring people to know their sexual orientation and gender identity.

I've always been pretty comfortable with my gender, but my sexuality? I'm still figuring that one out. I grew up in a fairly conservative home, so I was never exposed to the LGBT+ community or anything similar to it. Straight was the only way to go, and I grew up completely fine with that. It's only now that I know I'm not, that I'm realizing some of the things I did, probably should have told me I wasn't sooner.

Thankfully, it was never a huge source of stress for me because I was OK with being straight. I was fine with the idea of only being into men because I mostly still am. It's just that "mostly" bit that has me thrown off.

If I'm not fully into just guys, does that make me bisexual? What's the full difference between them, anyway? What does "bi" really imply, anyway? Two? Which two? Does the "bi" aspect of the word "bisexual" even really matter?

Do people identify as "pansexual" because the distinction of "bi" is misleading since there are more than just two genders?

Speaking of genders, would I date someone whose gender identity doesn't conform to the binary? How about a transgender person? How can I really know this for a fact without dating someone like that?

All of these thoughts gave me countless headaches, and they still do if I think too hard about it. Since I'm still discovering myself, I'm not fully comfortable labeling my sexuality as anything other than "not straight."

That should be totally fine.

If anything, I think this should be encouraged. It puts way less stress on people who are already stressed beyond belief. It shouldn't be something that a person has to know immediately, and they shouldn't have to ever label themselves if they aren't comfortable with it.

Let people explore their sexuality and gender. If they find a label early, let them. They may change it later. They may not. As long as they're happy with it, what does it matter? Why tell them "no?" Even if you're their parent or caregiver, you should at least be fine with them exploring their own identity and figuring their life out.

It's healthy, and ultimately, it will make them a happier person to know they had support for the whole wild ride.

Respect people if they find nothing and choose to stay label-less.

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c1.staticflickr.com

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