In honor of the new member education process beginning across Union’s campus this week, I’ve spent a great deal of time thinking about my own experiences joining a sorority last fall. I consider joining Alpha Delta Lambda to be one of the best decisions I’ve ever made as this group of strong, intelligent, and kind women have become my greatest support network.
I became close with the sisters rather quickly and there are several factors which I would attribute to our speedy transition from strangers to close confidants. Chiefly, there was a necessity via the new member education process– each week, I had to sister date current sisters until I had met with everyone in a more intimate and personal setting. The sisters themselves were happy to have the other new members and I join them. They made themselves very approachable to us. There were many occasions where we would run into one another at meal times or while studying and just randomly sit together. At first nothing united us except ADL, but I soon found the temperaments and ideals of the sisters matched my own. However, the biggest contributing factor I would give to the deep level of sisterhood I was able to obtain with the sisters came from my own attitude. I think most people’s first impression of me is that I’m either very shy and awkward or aggressive and intimidating. Truthfully, I’m not shy just typically not very outspoken and the acute social anxiety I feel in most social situations leaves me with a bad case of RBF. However, I did not let that hold me back when joining ADL. With them I was eccentric and loud and often found myself trying very hard to make everyone laugh with my sarcastic and mocking sense of humor. This is how I undoubtedly knew I was with the right people as I am only that vocal and goofy around people I truly trust. It is a wonderful feeling to look about the room and see several dozen faces looking back at you with the feeling of complete safety and warmth spreading throughout your whole body. It’s that feeling that told me I was home.
Of course, the true test of any relationship comes not during times of laughter and leisure, but during times of conflict and hardship. In the months that followed my initiation to ADL, I experienced several immense hardships. Loss in a variety of forms became a theme in my life. Not wanting to deal with the emotional baggage that typically comes with loss, I ignored it all. As this is not healthy or helpful it eventually bubbled over until I was irrationally moody and anxiously clingy. Yet, the sisters were there for me in every way imaginable.
I can still recall the day I got some particularly difficult news. In a shocked and dissociated state I went to a couple of the sisters and explained what happened. It was the kind of news that left me feeling weird. In the big picture I knew I would be ok but in that moment (and in the weeks to follow) I felt like the world had ended. The sisters were receptive of that and for the rest of day I floated amongst them in a silent stupor. A couple sisters asked me to come to dinner with them, another invited me to watch a movie, several more had me over to their house to bake cookies and so on so that my day was filled with activity and not lonesome contemplation of the events that had past. Each sister gave me a hug and offered condolences. That night, as a couple of the sisters walked me back to my room, we discovered someone had vandalized my door. The sisters helped me clean up the mess and by the time I was inside my room I was shaking from the pot of emotions finally boiling over. “It’s ok,” one sister said sympathetically, “you can cry”. And in that moment I burst into huge sobs that shook my whole body. My sisters sat with me until the sobs subsided. This was just one instance where my sister have been there for me in a time of need. And no matter how much I try to communicate to them how significant it was that they were there for me when I truly needed them most, I doubt they really grasp the amount of gratitude in my heart. To them, it’s the standard of sisterhood.
For many of us, it is not until college that we leave the refuge of our families and childhood communities to live in a new place with people who barely know us. To replace the part our families and loved ones played in our lives at home, it is integral that we find groups of friends and mentors. We all go through times of strife where we need a little extra support–especially while navigating the changes and difficulties of college. If you don’t have a pseudo family at college yet, do not worry. It took me about a year until I finally found my nest at school. Keep seeking out those with a common interest and I’m sure you will find those people that give you the room to be a silly goofball at your best and an emotional bag of tears at your worst. For me, I found that support with the sisters of Alpha Delta Lambda. They love and support me unconditionally and all they ask in return is that I keep them always in my heart.