During formal recruitment, a lot of new members asked me what Gamma Phi has meant to be in the year I've been a part of it. At the time, I struggled to find the words, feeling tears well up in the back of my eyes, as I give the lame response of "Gamma Phi has given me so much love and happiness over the past year." In the time since recruitment has ended and we've welcomed so many incredible new members into our chapter, I've begun to find the words I wish I could have shared with the new members during recruitment.
I knew two things for sure when I started my freshman year: I wasn't going to be the girl that was in a relationship all through college, and Greek life wasn't for me. Those two things were both proved wrong by November, and they ended up being two of the best decisions I ever made.
Formal recruitment was hell. First of all, who does recruitment in January??? I have a lot of cute clothes for FALL recruitment, not this "it's negative 10 degrees with freezing rain, good luck trying to find an outfit that is both snappy casual and warm!" weather. Also, what is snappy casual? Regardless, with the weather and the long walks in heels, recruitment was emotionally draining. I went through recruitment because my roommate didn't want to do it alone, and I thought I had nothing to lose. I was an awkward, uncomfortable and self-conscious 18-year-old who had literally no knowledge of Greek life other than overdone stereotypes. You can imagine how the system ripped me to pieces from day one, but overall, I went into preference round loving the choices I had.
I can bring myself back to bid day in a heartbeat - squirming in my chair, holding my bid in my hand, desperate to open it, nervously texting all my friends about where they thought they ended up. Kim Kardashian ugly crying when I ripped it open, the words "Gamma Phi Beta" written in huge letters across it. Running to our house, I wrapped my arms around my best friend (who had by some stroke of fate, ended up in the same house as me). I can put myself back to dancing on the furniture in the MY new house, ignoring the freezing rain outside, and meeting what felt like a thousand people who were my sisters now. I can remember it all like it was yesterday, and I would do anything to relive those memories again. I finally felt at home at Ohio State.
My chapter has given me so much more than just a home away from home at Ohio State. It has given me a family away from my "real" family - my big is always there for me when I need her, getting dinner and laying on her couch and complaining. I have learned so much from her, and I strive to be more like her with each day - confident, optimistic and driven. My twin is my other half, the person I go to for everything, good and bad. She is the person I always wish I could be - outspoken, smart as a whip, more loyal than any family pet. I took a little this spring, and she truly is like a little sister to me. I want so desperately to show my little the loving family she has joined, and for her to know that I'm always there for her (as is the rest of her kind of crazy family). I want so desperately for her to have the same experience in this chapter as I have, to love this group of 207 women as much as I have.
My chapter has given me so much more than sisters. It has given me a group of strong, passionate, and confident women who strive to surround themselves with other strong, passionate and confident women. When I joined my chapter, I was quiet, shy, anxious about even thinking of talking to someone I didn't know. The women of this chapter have nudged in all the right ways and taken me under their wing; the me of last year wouldn't recognize the me now. I am so much more confident (there's still some work to do, but no sorority is claiming to be performing miracles), and I am self-assured. I even have a leadership position, something I would have never imagined a year ago. I get emotional when I think of how much this chapter has helped me to grow, to become the type of woman I could only dream of.
More than anything else, my chapter has given me so much more than life long friends. This fall semester, I was having a really hard time. I was desperately homesick, battling health issues, and generally not doing great. My sisters would text me every day to make sure I was feeling alright, check in continually, help me with my school work that I was perpetually falling behind in, and laying in bed with me, watching Netflix and crying. Without the love and support of my sisters, I would have transferred home to be closer to my mom and given up on my dream school. Without my sisters, I wouldn't be where I am today, not quite thriving but certainly surviving.
I truly believe that everyone can find their home in Greek life, and I hope that everyone who does can get everything I got out of my chapter.