I was sitting next to my coworker of two months—someone I like and who I think likes me—when she noticed my water bottle. It’s covered in stickers—a Diet Coke sticker so I can trick my mind into thinking I’m drinking Diet Coke instead of water, a Broad City sticker to keep Abbi and Ilana’s spirit with me at all times, and a sticker displaying my sorority letters so that I never forget about my home base.
Upon reading my water bottle, my coworker turned to me and said,
“You’re in a sorority?”
She knew the answer. She saw the sticker. Yet she still felt the need to ask me the question. To subtly let me know that her prior perception of me had suddenly shifted—in a negative direction.
Why am I so sure it was a negative realization? Because there were no follow-up questions. There was no interest or intrigue in her voice; just a quick question and a silent conclusion.
Because of experiences like this, I’ve learned to not tell new friends, coworkers, humans in general that I’m in a sorority. I’ve learned to joke along with the sorority smack downs and sh*t talk muttered by people who have only ever experienced Greek life through a screen. I’ve learned to be embarrassed of my letters, not allowing myself to wear them past campus lines, to anticipate judgment and stares and assumptions by strangers.
And I’m over it. I’m over the conclusions drawn by the three letters on my shirt. Sororities are bigger and better and so much more than the stereotype.
I, like many other students, went into college very skeptical and very intrigued by the Greek system. The skepticism was a result of movies and tv shows and rumors. The intrigue was in thanks to my cousins and camp counselors and real people in real sororities who loved their houses and their experiences.
At first, of course I was influenced by popular culture and general opinion. Of course I was worried that I would be hazed for three weeks straight, that I wouldn’t be pretty enough to get into a house, that I wouldn’t fit in with the Greek crowd.
But for me—and for thousands of others—my skepticism and fears were erased the second I stepped through the door.
I’m not mad at the people who judge Greek life. It’s really easy to judge something before you join. Or to judge instead of joining. I understand where they’re coming from. I’m just eager to place a positive cloud over conversations about Greek life. Because I think it deserves to be recognized for what it is—a really good thing.*
Welcome To A Real Sorority.
Think Hermione Granger, not Regina George.
We’re smart and committed to our academic futures. Most sororities have a required minimum grade point average that every member must maintain. School is our priority.
Every time I walk into my sorority’s kitchen at 2 a.m. to pop more popcorn for my Netflix binge, I find girls still studying for tests, writing papers, or practicing presentations. My sisters are some of the most determined people I know.
They want to do big things, and they know school is how you get to the big things.
Think an Aerie ad, not a Victoria’s Secret one.
A lot of gals in sororities are blonde and skinny, and that’s cool. A lot of gals in sororities are not blonde or skinny, and that’s cool too.
Looks are just a non-issue in a majority of houses. Sure, there are those horror stories about houses only seeking out a certain body type or whatever, but those instances are far and few between.
My plus-size bod wears cut-off jeans, a flannel, Adidas, and unwashed hair in a bun with a baseball cap most days of the week. My skinny-minny best friend wears a floral dress with metallic sandals, hair perfectly curled most days of the week. She’s one of my favorite people, we look very different, we’re both rockin’ what we’ve got, and she’s in my sorority.
When houses are looking for members, they’re looking for confident, bright, funny, empathetic, weird, ambitious girls. The body that carries those traits is just the package for the good stuff.
Think Orange is the New Black, not The Real Housewives.
If every person in “Orange is the New Black” was a vegan-foodie-yoga-freak like Yoga Jones, that show would be so gosh darn boring. Every family needs a Yoga Jones, but they also need a Piper and a Crazy Eyes and a Red and a Soso. That’s what makes them fun.
I got away with taking one science class in high school and I got a D in pre-calculus senior year. I am physically afraid of calculators. But the number of soon-to-be pharmacists that I love with my whole heart is too big for me to count because I’m really bad at math [please laugh at my jokes writing is all I have]. The words they speak when studying sound foreign to me. Their perspective career sounds terrifying. Yet here we are, being the best of pals, in the same sorority.
There are collegiate lacrosse players and ballerinas and a capella singers and student government executives and newspaper editors and members of dozens of clubs all in my sorority. All under one roof. And it’s perfect. Our diverse little home is perfect.
Think Kate Spade, Sophia Bush, Condoleezza Rice, Erin Andrews, Tory Burch, Elizabeth Banks, and Carrie Underwood.
What a list. Sorority women kick ass, and I’m damn proud to be one of them. ‘Nuff said.
*Most of the time. Not all Greek life organizations are rainbows and butterflies. Many people have less than lovely experiences while in a sorority, and I’m not oblivious to this fact. But this article is about the good and the happy truth that many thousands of gals live as members of sororities. Because why not talk about the positive? This world needs a little positive, I think.