“After all, if growing up is war, then the friends who grew up with you deserve a special respect. The ones who stuck by you shoulder to shoulder, in a time when nothing was certain, all life lay ahead, and every road led home.” –Kevin Arnold
Most of the decisions we make when we are 18, fall apart. When I was 18, the Registrars office at my University knew me by first name since I filed a “change of major” form once a week. And the day I decided to go get an ink stain on my wrist and piercing through my lip, I walked out of the tattoo parlor with nothing more than a temporary tattoo on my elbow.
6 years later, the only decision I made back then that has not fallen apart was when I decided to join a sorority.
Just the other day, I was in the middle of a conversation with a man who was not from this country when he shot me a look into my tea cup eyes and asked me sternly, “What is a sorority?”
Where, oh where in the this world, was I supposed to start.
I told him it started in the most simplistic chaotic way. Six years ago, I went to college and a girl named Heather who I knew from my hometown, told me about a thing called sororities and this crazy little thing called “RUSH”, which at first sounded like a heard of freshman trying to navigate their way around campus continuously crashing into each other, but turned out to be a term for speed dating sorority women. This girl, looked my bun-head, punk rock style, freshie self and said, “Jen, you really should come see what it’s all about.”
And my skeptical, “this is SO not for me” rebellious mindset started kicking through my bones but I went through sorority recruitment anyway and I found these girls who learned all about who I was and instead of laughing at my weirdo ways, took me by the hand and ran with me, making me feel like it was okay to be a little different, and 6 years after joining, they never made me change who I was. They only made me grow up, just enough.
Today, the sorority that I joined turns 103.
Living in this 9-(whenever I get out of work) real world, I only ever hear about sororities, unfortunately, when they are in the news for bad, unthinkable, things. And whenever I introduce the fun-fact that underneath these black slacks and 9pm bed time ways, I am a “sorority girl”, people always ask me about the hypothetical terrible things they assume I endured. But they, and you, will learn that like anything else in this world (boyfriends, jobs, hobbies), you get whatever it is you put into it and you must only stand beside people and things you believe in, or else you will fail miserably.
There are many different sororities, with many different women who join them and dance with them for different reasons. I can only fairly speak on behalf of my experience, so I won’t generalize or stereotype the whole sorority experience as being “rainbows and butterflies”, but ill tell you this.
When you ask me about the crazy parties or rumors of nasty, degrading hazing, I’ll tell you that at the age of 18, I was the newsletter chair of my sorority because I loved to write. At 20, I was the Vice President of Philanthropy, raising tens of thousands of dollars for two causes that were founded or influenced by sisters. At 21, I was the President, but more importantly the role model of 150 impressionable and resilient women
It does not just matter why you joined things or why you started something, we start new things every day. Job positions, inseparable relationships, lines outside of Jamba Juice, goals to finally hit up the gym. It’s about what keeps us, if we stay. And you will learn, that if you stay for the long-haul, the marathon sprint, you’ll stay for the right reasons. Because the wrong reasons exhaust us, make our faces wrinkle and our hair gray. Leave us with upset stomachs and indigestion.
Some things in life stay together, but most things will fall apart. Hold on real tightly and celebrate the nouns that keep you from falling apart. [To the seven women, wh0 103 years ago today, acknowledged the beauty in being a little different and decided to put life into an idea they came up with on their dorm room floor, I say to you in the most undiluted way and with every ounce of my heart, thank you]