Why I Didn't Join Greek Life
"Fake." "Too preppy." "Always partying." "Sleeps around." "Pays for friends." "Loud and obnoxious."
These stereotypes, among others, are some of the reasons why I did not want to join one of the many Greek organizations on my college campus.
Growing up, I was always "too" something; I was too girly, too preppy, too happy, too "sparkly," too spunky… too much. According to my friends, I was cookie cutter "sorority girl" material. As captain of the cheer squad, everyone always told me that I would grow up and be a sorority girl; that I would be wild in college because my sheltered private school upbringing would make that lifestyle easy for me. When I arrived at college my freshman year, amidst all the excited and nervous girls who were anxious to receive their bids, I swore up and down I would never be one of them. I would never pay to be a part of a group of fake girls who only cared about the next frat party. I did not want to be a part of an organization plagued with negative publicity, rape culture, and hazing. I refused to become a Greek woman.
My first party that I ever attended was a frat party. One of the first things that the homeowner told me was that he wanted me to feel safe, and that if had any problems, he would handle them. Later that evening, another brother—who had remained sober the entire party—gave my friends and me a ride home. He explained to us the importance of risk managers—members of the fraternity who hold positions intended to keep others safe—and sober monitors—like himself—at parties. He too took it upon himself to make sure that everyone was safe and taken care of. I have since been to many more parties—both fraternity and otherwise—and it has never been at the fraternity parties where I felt unsafe. I only felt unsafe at the parties that were unaffiliated with Greek life.
As the year went on, I remained skeptical of Greek life. All of the negative things that the media had told me remained ingrained in my mind. One afternoon, all of my thoughts on sororities—and Greek life as an institution—were turned upside down. A friend of mine convinced me to attend a sorority event with her. At this event, I met many great women; women who were diverse and intelligent. One girl (I'll call her Ashley) and I really hit it off. She invited me to lunch with her. Ashley and I had so much fun on our short little lunch date to our school's dining hall. We talked about classes and our friends. She told me stories about her sisters and how much time they spent together aside from parties. I learned that everyone in her organization was different, but each individual had something to contribute to the whole and without each sister the chapter would be incomplete. I realized after my lunch with Ashley that my preconceived notions about Greek life were completely inaccurate. Not all sorority women were tall and blonde. Not all of them wore Lilly Pulitzer dresses and pearls. I learned that the members of Greek organizations on my campus shared a bond of sisterhood that was so much stronger than any normal friendship. Each organization held different values and its members shared different interests and ideals.
Fall came and went, and before I knew it, it was the beginning January and I was curling my hair for the first day of formal recruitment. Through excitement, anxiety, and a little bit of remaining skepticism, I began a three-day journey that would ultimately change my life for the better. Finally, after a tiresome and emotional weekend, and the placing of all of my skepticism and doubts behind me, I ran home to an organization that would soon become more to me than I ever imagined it could.
My sisters became my family and my best friends. They welcomed me in. All of a sudden, I was never without a lunch date, or someone to read over my English papers at two in the morning. There was always someone to shop with or someone to wipe my tears when my boyfriend broke up with me. Yes, I had friends to party with—I had those before I joined Greek life too—but this time, those friends that I went out with were also my sisters. I knew that they would take care of me no matter what, and that they always had my back when that drunk guy or girl at the party made me feel uncomfortable. (Side note: those creepy people were almost never fraternity men or sorority women). Most importantly, there was someone there to hold me accountable. There were people who had my best interest in mind and whenever I seemed to be struggling, someone was there to notice and ask me how I was doing. I had become a part of something much bigger than myself—an organization that gave back to the community and produced strong leaders and independent thinkers.
Greek life is not about alcohol, partying, or gossip. It isn't about how many likes we can get on Instagram when we post pictures of our sisters "throwing what we know." It doesn't revolve around "being elite on campus" or getting our "MRS Degree." It's about family and sisterhood. It's about building each other up and being there for one another. It is about sharing a bond and values that we hold dear to our hearts. We, as sorority women, are encouraged to lift each other up—regardless of organization. Greek life has taught me leadership skills and how to branch out of my comfort zone. Because of Greek life I am a more confident individual, and I have learned priceless people skills. My sisters push me to do my best in whatever I undertake and through living my creed I realize that I can do anything I put my mind to.
While the negative stereotypes associated with Greek life will always put a damper on the reputation of Greek affiliation, it is important to remember that these few chapters and individuals with poor intentions do not make up the whole of Greek life. The movies and media almost never give an accurate depiction of what we do—they are generally only concerned with the negatives because they make for the best ratings. I made the mistake of judging sororities and fraternities based on preconceived notions, and I am so glad that I was wrong. Greek organizations have the ability to change the lives of millions through their positive and encouraging members, high educational standards, and strong moral beliefs. When looking into Greek life, it is important to remember to look at the bigger picture; and, with a little research, it can be made clear that Greek organizations are not negative like the media tries to make them out to be.
Greek life has encouraged me to embrace my "too's." Because of Greek life, I have learned that all of the things about myself that I grew up thinking were negative, are actually some of my best traits and biggest assets. Because of Greek life I have become the best version of myself that I can be, and I will continue to become a better person because of my sisters and the organization that backs me up in everything I undertake.
I am a leader. I am an achiever. I am a thinker; a worker; an encourager. I am a competitor; a supporter; and a team player. I am a woman; and I am proud to be a member of Greek life.