The Truth About Sororities

Sooo…there’s something you don’t know about me. Something that….mayyy come as a bit of a surprise.

Which, at this point…given all the highly invasive intel you have on my personal life, really, nothing can come as a shock anymore. AmIright or amIright?

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#NoRegrets

I was the president of my sorority in college.

Not like a coed business/service fraternity. And not a “faith house sisterhood” like they have at many christian colleges.

No. We’re talking a Lilly Pulitzer-obsessed, Sperry-wearing, Starbucks-drinking, toga-party-attending sorority. At a public university.

And I haven’t talked about it much on here because, well, it was not a great experience. And I’m putting that as mildly as possible.

This past weekend, my mom and sister-in-law were visiting me in NYC, and one night, at 1 am, over a bottle of wine in front of my fireplace in my apartment, the topic turned to my experience in Greek life. And specifically, would I do it again?


In order to answer that question, I’m afraid I’m going to have to rewind.

If you know anything about me, then you may be scratching your head, thinking that I don’t really fit the “sorority mold”…at least from what you’d deduce from my writing.

But you’ve got to realize, growing up, I was all about sisterhood. I was part of a singing group of 8 of my best girlfriends, and we sang together – every Monday – from second grade to senior year of high school. Two of which live in NYC with me now… This group was my rock, and I was so looking for a similar foundation at my out-of-state, far-away-by-plane university. So coming from the suburbs of Ohio, you’d better believe that come orientation weekend, little Caralyn heard “sorority sisterhood rush weekend,” and had to sign up! That and roughly 85% of the campus participated in Greek life…

But I loved that this sorority was founded on biblical principles in its “creed,” and I loved  the sisterhood aspect. So much so, that I developed a book club that met once a week and went through the book “Captivating,” and broke down the “creed” line-by-line and linked it to the bible passage it was based on.

So when officer elections came up, the national president said that she wanted to use the materials I had developed as organization-wide “recruitment material,” and that she wanted me to be president…even though I didn’t run.

Anyway…long story short…the behind the scenes process was just…soulless.

The recruitment process…let’s just say that after the “rush open house parties,” the entire chapter would sit in a room where, on a big projection screen, a photo of each potential new member would be projected, and the national president — a 45 year old woman, mind you — would say things like, “Oh this girl’s looks would be a liability for your chapter. NEXT!” Or, “Not thin enough.” Or, “She didn’t dress well.” And just like that, this sweet little incoming freshman girl would get a letter telling her not to come back to the next day’s “round” of recruitment parties.

I could go on and on with other examples, -including that same wonderful national president assigning certain members to “work the kitchen” behind the scenes during the recruitment parties because they would “project a negative chapter image.”

It turned out that my desire to promote the ideals the sorority was founded on, and to serve my chapter by creating an environment that embodied sisterhood, seemed to be falling on deaf and even hostile ears. My time as president rocked the boat for many of the girls who were looking for…say…an experience that mirrored MTV Spring Break. Not all — there were a handful of likeminded girls.

But, looking back now, I can see the valuable lessons I learned from that poisonous environment. I have seen the directional shift my life took as a result, and the relationships (with true friends) it strengthened in its wake.

For you see, after that year, I didn’t return to that university. I moved to New York and finished my degree here. I “dusted off my sandals” and left that toxic environment behind, never looking back.

This experience has so deeply impacted who I am. How I see others – especially girls – and truly, how I approach beauty.

That afternoon during recruitment, watching a grown woman literally pick apart girls behind their back, based on their appearance, clothing, race, intellect, and “slut factor” — I was disgusted.

The outside is merely a shell of the beauty and dignity we have on the inside. Our hearts … that are capable of love, forgiveness, compassion, joy, courage, strength, empathy — that’s what is beautiful. And what’s more, is Who lives inside our hearts.

We have a beauty beyond bones. We have beauty that comes from Christ. And no hair extensions or spray tan can rival that.

Reflecting back, perhaps this blog is an extension of the “sister(-and-brother)hood” that I was so yearning for when I joined that sorority as a wide-eyed college freshman, looking for love and family, so many miles from home.

Because, really, no matter where we are in life, aren’t we all looking for that? Don’t we all need acceptance?

I’ll tell you what, it’s not going to be found at jungle juice ragers and all night toga parties.

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It’s found in relationships where people know the real you, and love you all the same.

So, would I do it again?

That’s a tough question. Because, as a firm believer that God uses every experience – good and bad – to shape and teach us, and to prepare us for His will and His plan for our lives, I know that I endured that for a reason. I know that it has gotten me to where I am today. Learned things. Seen things. Grown to value honestly, loyalty, and authenticity.

But mainly, it has been a solidifying factor in teaching me where to find my self worth. Where to find my value as a human. It’s not in a senior picture projected on a pull-down projector screen. It’s not in my “recruitment score” that only factors in your looks, conversation skills and legacy eligibility.

My worth lies in Him. Just like yours.

So would I do it again? Sure. Only because I’m not going to second guess God. He allowed me to go though it. So I’m not going to doubt His process.

What about you? Did you participate in Greek life? Would you do it again?

**Disclaimer** (( I know not all Greek life experiences are like mine. I have many friends that loved their experience, and that’s awesome! I am not anti-Greek. This was just my sorority. So, please…take this with a grain of salt 🙂 ))

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beautybeyondbones

BBB: Because we're all recovering from something. // For speaking/business inquiries: beautybeyondbones@yahoo.com

188 thoughts on “The Truth About Sororities

  1. I had no idea what I was getting into when my mom talked me into going through Rush in the mid 1980’s. Her recommendation came with the best of intentions; she thought we’d spend our time going to teas, the ballet and an occasional formal dance. Without going into a lot of detail, it was hardly that. I think the worst part of the whole experience was the racism that permeated in the system, which probably impacted me more than others because I had an African American roommate by choice. Girls and guys would not come to my dorm because of this, and nasty comments were whispered within ear shot of me.

    I had worked my tail off that summer at my parent’s business, and it seemed like all the money I earned was funneled into the sorority via dues, fees, fines, t-shirts, accessories and party pics. Even though I spent much of my time attending meetings and parties, I was forming close friendships with many of my neighbors in the dorm – for free!

    And speaking of money, the Greek System is big business. This fact hit me like a lead pipe a few years later. My friend and I were conversing about sororities and fraternities. She told me that her husband decided to go through Rush as a joke. He complete the application, including a question about parental income, which he stated was one million/year. Those Greeks were falling over themselves in an attempt to woo him to their way.

    Upon hearing this, I realized that, I too, completed the same form. My dad didn’t like to talk about how much he made, so I just made up a number, which, now I realize, was on the low side. So, in spite of my grades, and accolades which earned me a full scholarship, I was immediately cut by the top four sororities, which was devastating, to say the least.

    The liquor flowed freely, even though most of us were underage (the legal drinking age in Arkansas is 21). There were girls who bragged about having black outs, and boys who bragged about taking advantage of said girls. It was horrible.

    So after that first year, I decided to get out. Of course, I didn’t hear a peep from my “sisters”, well, with one exception. I had a sticker on my car, and had literally forgotten all about it. I was told sometime during that fall semester that I needed to remove it.

    My son just entered college, and my daughter is not far behind. They know not to even ask to join one of these groups, which, I definitely agree with you, are extremely toxic.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi there! Thank you so much for sharing this reflection. I’m sorry you also had a negative experience. Though not all sororities are toxic environments, sadly, many are, and I’m sorry that you had to find that out first hand. Yeah, I was really discouraged by the disrespect that many of the fraternities showed towards their female coeds as well. Again, not all-but that was definitely there if you looked hard enough. And that just makes me sad about the whole treatment you and your roommate received. That is truly horrible. 😦 thanks again for stopping by and joining the dialogue. Big hugs to you xox

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  2. I wasn’t involved in the Greek Life when I was in college, but I had friends that were. Their experience was not positive and they left the sorrorities they were in complaining of how they partied too much and were too superficial. One of my roommates was in a sorrority and really liked it, because they were more about academics.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Thanks for sharing! I didn’t do sorority, but there are times in my life when I’ve been a part of groups that didn’t really use their moral compass…we live, we learn, and most of us try to be better people as we grow!

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Hi Beautybeyondbones! So you not only had me at Trump and I just had not commented on that post yet, but now you have me at this post! I too voted for Trump and actually used to love watching his show WAY BEFORE he was even eyeballed for politics. I have been in real estate all my life and licensed for 15 years, so I completely get his business ethics in real estate investing! I look at someones heart. I could care less if someone is gay, straight, orange, yellow, atheist, etc… it is their heart I see. If the heart is not pretty and mean, I could care less what the appearance is, where they are from, who they choose to shack up with, or even if they use foul words… I choose to stay away. And in regards to being an old sorority girl… those were some of the best years ever!! To this day…. i still love my cardinal, straw, and pearls! Have a blessed Christmas and thank you for the like of my post.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Susie! Oh thank you so much! That’s so beautiful-looking at the heart is the way to go! And that’s so awesome. I’m glad you had a such a great sorority experience! Yeah, I’m def not anti sorority-I know that my experience was abnormal and that lots of people had really great times. So I’m glad you did:) hugs and thanks for stopping by! Xox

      Liked by 1 person

  5. I tried it, I lasted for 2 weeks and decided it wasn’t for me! I don’t do well if I have to fit into a mold. They didn’t appreciate that I could stand by myself, so, it didn’t work out and the parting of ways was mutual. Gosh, that was 19 years ago! Haven’t even thought about it in a long time. Enjoyed your post.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Candice! Thanks for sharing this. I’m glad you figured out quickly that it wasn’t for you and could move forward! Yeah, I think being able to stand by yourself is a great and admirable trait to have 🙂 thanks for stopping by! Hugs and love xox

      Liked by 1 person

  6. I was president of my fraternity and some of my closest friends to this day (25 years later) are still fraternity brothers.

    My experience was exceptional. We were an extremely small house at a large Land Grant University. We were not exclusive, just small — We were a diverse group of guys (White, African-American, Asian Christian, Jewish, Muslim, etc..). Whereas many of the other houses had in excess of 100 brothers, my house only had 20 members. Our size became our downfall when our numbers couldn’t sustain the rent.

    The rush process in the fraternities was far different from the sororities at my school — I’ve heard stories like you’ve described from sorority women who went to my school. I also have not doubts that if I’d joined a larger house, my experience would be different.

    There is no doubt in my mind that the seeds of my problems with alcohol were sewn in the fraternity, and for that one might think I’d regret it, but I have had far more good come out of it. I learned a lot about life in that house. I learned how to fix things like toilets and windows in that house. I learned a lot about how to keep things going in lean times in that house. I learned a lot about organizational leadership in that house. All of those lessons have come in handy in my personal and professional life after college.

    And, as I said, I have many great friends from that time in my life. Nope, I wouldn’t change it, but I might do some things differently.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Damien, thank you so much for sharing your story. I’m so glad you had a great experience with Greek Life. You’re right-not all Greek experiences are the same and there are a lot of terrific houses, like yours, out there! I appreciate you offering this perspective. Hugs and love xox

      Liked by 1 person

  7. It’ s great to see how you’ve risen above all that, it has allowed you to grow but some people with little support or faith, might not be in the same headspace as you are in right now. I think more people like you should speak up, shake and rattle some people in leadership roles. That’s what Jesus did, He was no meek and mild leader, He was the raging tempest who shook the pharisees to their very core. God bless ❤

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh my gosh what a kind note of encouragement. Thank you so much. Jesus is definitely the #1 example of how we should live our lives! I’m so glad that we have His footsteps to guide us. Hugs and love xox

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  8. I was also in a sorority in college… and it was also very poisonous. But… it got me where I am today – married with a beautiful baby girl – living & loving in a small little town in my sweet Louisiana. I, too, am not anti-Greek now, just not so sure I would do it all over again, or maybe just a few things a tad differently. 😉

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi friend, thank you so much for sharing your story. I’m sorry it was a less than lovely experience but that’s so great that you’ve got such a beautiful and fulfilling life now! So happy for you! Big hugs xox

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      1. Well, everything wasn’t less than lovely. I guess I should’ve clarified. But looking back now, I should’ve just looked past Rush. I probably would’ve made better grades & not partied quite as hard, but hey, ya live & ya learn, right? I was a little Catholic school girl getting her much-needed taste of freedom. I just needed to live a little. ☺️

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  9. Another great post! Keep shining girl! I enjoy your authenticity. You are in my sisterhood. Daughters of the King. Royalty. I just wanted to stop in and encourage you to keep writing. Your wit & grit in telling your story is making a difference in the lives of others. Keep on!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks friend! Aw, I so appreciate the encouragement. truly! Yes! that is the best sisterhood to be in 🙂 thanks for stopping by and making me smile 🙂 ((Truth be told, I’m sick in bed with a fever of 102, so I’m just feeling so uplifted by your kindness.)) big big hugs xox

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  10. The more light you carry within your own Soul, the more you can see the light within others. The essence of the Way of Christ is for me: to see the Light of Jesus in everyone and everything. Seeing Christ in the Eucharist enables us to see him in the streets. Everything is the Body of Christ. When we live with the vision of Christ, every day is like Christmas.

    Christ is risen! Truly he is risen… here and now within us 🙂
    Mark

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Such a great reflection! I’ve been amazed at the body shaming that occurs by grown adults as well as late teens and young adults. I’m glad to see an honest reflection on GL. I see so many people pull the “oh mine was just perfect” card and being a child of God, I know perfect isn’t attainable for us.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. You described my exact experience with Greek life. I’m repulsed as I look back and would never encourage young women to pledge a sorority. I have friends who speak of very different (and certainly more positive) experiences, but Greek life was not for me.

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  13. I really liked reading this (wayyy after you posted it haha). I was president of my sorority and I didn’t enjoy it most of the time either. I can’t believe the kind of things you had to go through. My frustraton was not due to our nationals at all. They were (are) so great! But you’re so right, there are so many good things that can come out of not so great situations.

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  14. I had some similar experiences as you when I become my sorority’s president! Us sorority presidents have been put through the most testing of situations. Good to know it wasn’t just me! Thanks for sharing! Xoxo

    Like

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