Greek life has a primarily negative connotation. As a student ambassador, parents always ask on tours about the culture of Greek life on campus and if what they see in the movies is really true. The answer, quite honestly, is not at all. There is a huge disconnect between those involved in the Greek system and those who only view it from the outside. And it is understandable why this gap in understanding exists.
Recruitment videos, Instagram photos, matching t-shirts and nightmarish images of girls piled on top of one another singing: all these things are what Greek life portrays itself as to the general public. These things do happen. Recruitment videos are images of real girls in real sororities, but they are not doing real things. All of these videos and photographs are staged and rehearsed and edited. So while this portrayal of Greek life is not entirely inaccurate, it is far from the whole truth.
Here is what you don't see:
A room full of 50 girls being their most open and vulnerable selves with one another, asking for support. The comfort you can find with people that may not even know you well but love you well.
The feeling of freedom that comes with being surrounding by friends that want to laugh with you at midnight about Twitter memes and then cry with you at 1 a.m. because you are overwhelmed and lost. The feeling that comes with spontaneous dance parties and deep conversations about the important things in life, with waking up to notes of encouragement and coffee on your desk and balloons on your birthday.
The people that push you to try new things and be more involved. The ones who help you find internships and encourage you to put yourself out there, even when you don't feel good enough. The individuals who spend afternoons with you exploring coffee shops and studying, who make you posters on the days of big exams. The friends who are always willing to get food and accompany you to Target, who make time for you regardless of how busy they may be. The strangers who turn into future bridesmaids.
So yes, Greek life can look (and sometimes be) very cheesy and fake. There are days I wear matching t-shirts and sing at the top of my lungs to strangers. There truly are never-ending photoshoots and an abundance of awkward posing. However, my sorority is so, so much more to me than the pictures I post. There are real people behind the (possibly) fake smiles, and they are strong and silly and empowering and honest.
When parents ask what Greek life is like, I tell them it is one of many opportunities for involvement on campus. However, I also tell them that the Greek system is a place where individuals are empowered to pursue their passions. It is a place where service and scholarship are valued, where leadership is encouraged, and where authenticity flourishes. Despite what the pictures and movies may portray, Greek life has provided the foundation for the rest of my college experience. It has given me the confidence to pursue whatever I aspire for.
And that's the truth.