Growing up, I always pictured Greek life as an integral part of my college experience. I had always heard my mom talk about her sorority. I had all their songs memorized before I even set foot on campus. When I made the decision to participate in recruitment my freshman year, the weeks leading up to it were a whirlwind of nerves and anticipation. Despite the Southern heat and rain, I looked forward to the six days of walking from house to house in high heels. I was excited to find the new home and the sisters that I had always believed to be a defining aspect of my college years.
Looking back, it's possible that the first sign that Greek life wasn't for me came when my mom received a message from her sister. "You should tell your daughter to take down some of her Facebook posts," she wrote, "some sororities might not like her political views." When my mom relayed this to me, I declined the suggestion — not only because I found the notion that sororities would monitor the social media of thousands of potential members absurd, but also because I was not about to censor myself just to be accepted. Much to my relief, my refusal to edit my public persona did not affect my ability to join a sorority. I ended up with a bid from a house at which I had felt comfortable since the beginning of recruitment. Throughout the orientation period leading up to initiation, I felt more and more confident in my decision, and I knew I would be at home there.
And I was, for a while.
At first, sorority life was exactly what the recruitment videos made it out to be: endless love and sisterhood. I had girlfriends with whom I'd go out on weekends, I had a Big I adored, and I had letters I was proud to wear. But the novelty of the experience eventually faded into the rules and expectations. I was glad that I didn't have to lose my sense of self in order to get into a sorority, but I quickly found that staying in one demanded a degree of conformity. As I learned the ropes of the organization, I was coached on what I was allowed to say and do in certain circumstances; what I should and should not wear; and what I could and could not post online or write in a message.
I understood that they didn't want my singular opinion reflecting poorly upon the organization, but at the same time, I hated feeling the need to water myself down. Meanwhile, as I did my best to avoid affecting how people viewed my sorority, my sorority continued to affect how I was seen. I found it bothersome that the stereotypes associated with Greek life and my house now applied to me, and even went as far as to alter my interactions with others on campus. I was automatically associated with some girls I wasn't even friends with. I didn't want people to see my letters before they saw me.
The next indication that I didn't belong in a sorority came when I found out that there were only 4 other girls in my major who were involved in Greek life. Studying music and joining a sorority were, it seemed, mutually exclusive. My chapter offered plenty of academic help in a variety of disciplines... but not mine. It wasn't a purposeful decision; they simply didn't have members that could provide resources for my field of study, and after several years in college, I understand why. As time went on, my class workload increased, along with opportunities for further involvement in my field.
On many occasions, this meant choosing between my sorority and my major. I'd have to skip social events to practice music and attend rehearsals. I'd miss opportunities to build my resume in favor of chapter meetings and workshops. Any focus on my future career necessitated absence from sorority activities, and I resented the fact that I was hardly participating in an organization to which I was paying substantial amounts of money for membership.
The decision to drop out of my sorority wasn't an easy one to make, but I don't regret it for a minute. I was initially worried about losing the friends I have made, but I knew that if my former sisters cut me off once I stopped wearing the letters, they were never really my friends in the first place. When I consider the work I need to put in in order to succeed in my career, I realize that there's no way I could have kept Greek life in the mix without making a much more substantial sacrifice. It wasn't fair to myself or to my sisters to try to participate in both my major and the sorority and end up doing both halfway.
While Greek life can offer the opportunity for a lifelong sisterhood, promote academic success, and provide some individuals with various connections for later in life; however, at the end of the day, sorority life just wasn't right for me.