I consider myself many things. A writer. A sports fan. A ball of stress. A second-semester college senior. A nuisance who quotes Vines way too often (to some people, I’m sure). Finally, a sorority girl in Alpha Delta Pi at Tulane University. Before I started to stress about job applications and where I would move after school ended, I stressed in my tiny closet of a freshman dorm worrying about winter rush with my 20 other floor-mates.
Now, trying to give advice might make me come across as a little hypocritical. After all, Tulane only has eight sororities; I don’t think that I could slog through the absolute monster 25-sorority extravaganza that other southern schools like the University of Alabama put on yearly (and I salute those who do). But hey; I’d like to think that if I can make a freshman a little less stressed, then I should go for it.
Rush can seem daunting, terrifying and unconquerable. Coming from my own experience, these three tidbits I learned might help you get through it a little easier.
1. Go easy on yourself—your screw-ups will not cause the end of the world.
This specific example has a bit more of a literal meaning. On the first day of my sorority recruitment, I felt fresh and confident (honestly, more confident than I had any right to feel). I woke up, did my hair and makeup and threw on my cutest open house outfit. Then, I went to Tulane’s student center to meet up with my recruitment group, and promptly threw up all over the floor.
I got sent back to my dorm with a stomach bug and slept it off for eight hours, basically hearing that if any sorority wanted to invite me back they would, but I shouldn’t get disappointed if I woke up house-less. I laid in bed honestly expecting to get dropped from every single house that very day, assuming my rush career had officially gotten cut short. Yet, I still received invites back to two houses the following day. Yes, I literally got sick in front of 300 freshmen, and apparently sorority girls found that totally okay. I walked into the next day of rush not having not met a single girl in a single chapter. Imagine what else you could get away with?
In all seriousness, if something like this can happen to me, then it can happen to you. The inescapable parts of rush will always include the fear of making mistakes. They can keep you up at night—I know mine did. However, nothing you do will ever cause your world to come crashing down. What really matters? Pushing through. I promise you, we won’t hold it against you. Me especially; after all, you might step on my ankle, but at least you didn’t pass out in a cold sweat while everyone else participated in open house day.
2. Relax—sorority girls won’t judge you like 1920’s swimsuit models.
Before I left on the plane to go back to school for rush, my mom told me that before I entered each of the houses on the first day, I should take a shot to “loosen myself up”; not necessarily sound advice to give to your recently-turned-nineteen-two-weeks-ago daughter. Needless to say, I had issues concerning my potential lack of social graces. You see, if you could believe it, freshman me lacked, um, refined social skills. In other words, my list of assumed mutual interests basically boiled down to “I’ve had a Frappuccino once and I own three different lipsticks.”
Yeah, not exactly the pinnacle of charm and sophistication. As the first in my immediate family to participate in Greek life, my image of sorority girls at that point included the first 15 minutes of Legally Blonde.
But I found that as I went through my own rush process, conversations became less stilted and felt more natural. I once had a conversation with a girl, who would eventually become my sorority sister, about how she ate an entire watermelon in two days—a refreshing break from repeating my major and hometown five times a night. Honestly, coming from other people’s experience, we find you guys just as scary. We all really want you to join our sisterhoods and put our best foot forward in doing so. It might not seem like it, but you and my sisters all occupy this same awkward boat.
If we seem scary, we don’t mean it. Most of us just want to get to know you and see if you make a good fit for us. Relax a little. I guarantee that we feel just as nervous about talking to you as you feel about talking to us.
3. Stay open to the process—you’ll find your home here.
More than anything at my school, I see girls of all sorts drop out of rush. Houses make the most cuts around the end of the second day; naturally, girls who get cut from their first-choice house tend to drop out of the process altogether. It can end up becoming a mixed bag sometimes. Several girls on my floor dropped out of the process and others dropped out on bid day, having preferred one of two options and instead getting the less desirable choice. When I’d just finished the rush process and entered the initiation period, I ran into girls from my rush class that had dropped and regretted it. Not all of them did, but some wished that they’d stuck with it, even if that meant ending up somewhere they didn’t enjoy at first.
This could happen to you. You could fall in love with some girls and their sisters. You could adore their house and what they do for their philanthropy. You could feel like you want to give your right arm to your rush-crush if they asked you for it. If you get cut from that house, it can all come crashing down as soon as it got built up.
However, believe me when I say that you should stick with the process. That one house that you thought seemed so-so could have two or three amazing girls that you just haven’t met yet. Maybe their sisterhood vibe clicked with you more in the latter rounds than on open house day. Maybe some girl has a discussion with you about how much watermelon she can eat in two days and you just go “Yeah, I feel that.”
You won’t lose your friends if you drop out. You won’t lose your social status if you drop out. But you might just lose a valuable experience and a great group of girls. Stick with it; you might just end up pleasantly surprised.