I always wanted to be considered “one of the girls”. Growing up, I hung out with the boys in my neighborhood. I befriended girls at school, but I wasn’t close to them. I saw my older sisters with their friends and thought, “If I just wait until I get older, I’ll be feminine enough to get friends of the female variety.” Until that happened, I watched television and movies involving Greek life. I quickly found myself wanting to grow up faster so I could attend college and find my Greek sisters.
After starting college last fall, I became dead-set on joining a sorority. I didn’t care which one, just as long as they wanted me as much as I wanted them. Honestly, I was willing to join the House Bunny sorority. My adrenaline pumped when the Panhellenic sororities started sending me invites to apply.
My adrenaline plummeted after re-reading the emails saying rush week started during Halloween. My friends and I already made plans to visit one of my best friends that lived in San Diego. We graduated from high school two years ago, and I hadn’t seen her since—how could I pass up on a visit? I felt bummed, but I figured I could rush next semester.
The Friday before Halloween, I wanted to enjoy a nice evening with my friends. I asked them to tag along to a “Night at the MU” event—a night where students can come to the student union for fun and entertainment. I thought the event included free food, so they agreed to join.
Beyond the entrance, girls dressed in cocktail dresses and heels stood in a long line. I thought it was a chill event, so I stuck with an Awolnation t-shirt, shorts and Supras. That’s what I get for thinking. Somehow, I overlooked the “Greek Life Takeover” bit written on the flyers. More girls lined up behind us and my social anxiety refused to let me book it out of the union. I shook my nerves and disregarded the red flag to get the hell out of there.
While a girl in front of me signed in, I noticed a few current members on the side whispering to one another. I examined their body language and came to the conclusion that they were secretly bidding. My heart hammered in my chest and I felt a big lump in my throat making it difficult for me to swallow. I never did well in situations where people outright judged me. I struggled, but I took a few deep breaths anyway.
After signing in, the two members I saw earlier gave me a second glance before turning to each other and shaking their heads. No words were spoken from either party, but the way they glared at me immediately made me feel small. I finally came face to face with people I wanted to be close with, only to discover that I wasn’t what they wanted. Strike one for Greek life.
At the tail end of the semester, I met with my academic success coach to talk about getting involved on campus. I mentioned my interest in Greek life. She quickly gave me a few emails in order to contact multicultural sororities. I felt instant gratification. I thought, “Maybe this is more my style.” I got in contact and made plans to attend a soiree.
Like previous life events, this one didn’t end any better. I was late to the soiree, making my social anxiety worsen. Then dues became a topic of conversation. Other topics included being professionally dressed for most meetings. I didn’t have a problem with this, but I only had a few professional outfits with me that I brought to school. Attending soirees downtown would be another must, but I didn’t have the knowledge of Phoenix to make use of public transportation or the money to frequently use the light rail. I figured I should wait to join a sorority. Strike two for Greek life.
During the spring semester, I heard that my school had one of the first LGBT sororities. I immediately wanted to join. Rush week began with zero problems and I passed the interview process with flying colors. The initiation process had me silently screaming with excitement. The sorority held an obscure ceremony with lanterns, followed by introductions to our big sisters. A week of rest came and went, then came the first member class, which isn’t meant to be difficult or anxiety inducing, but I found a way to have a panic attack regardless. Every requirement that my almost sisters listed felt like a nail in the proverbial coffin that was my relationship with Greek life.
We may have been initiated, but we weren’t considered sisters just yet. Spring break arrived and my mom had brain surgery; there was no way I wasn’t going home to visit her. So the sorority gave me a free pass for spring break, but I needed to make myself available most weekends. I visited home once, maybe twice a month. I couldn’t become unavailable to my family solely because of a sorority. I needed to choose between my family and almost-sorority—Greek like officially struck out.
I chose myself. The entire time I wanted to belong to a large group in order to define myself, but I failed to realize that I don’t need a large organization to showcase who I am. I found female friends thanks to a women’s empowerment club that I joined. I have a lot of Greek friends that I made from a few of my classes and I attend their events to support them. Unfortunately, I won’t be in “the know,” but I enjoy being the wallflower for Greek life. I still have yet to completely discover who I am; college is about exploration and I’m still on that odyssey.