The Other Side of Recruitment: Being a Rho Gamma, Part 2

This is the sixth in a multi-part tale of my experience with Greek life and sororities. This is not meant to offend, put down, or upset anyone about being in a sorority or being Greek (I was one too!). It is just my recount of how I became Greek, what happened once I became Greek, and how I ended my affiliation. Please do not take this offensively in any way.

On the final day of recruitment (before Bid Day), the PNMs go to their last houses for the preference ceremonies. This is an emotional day for all involved, for it is the closest a PNM will get to becoming a sister of the sorority without actually pledging or being initated. Active sisters, alumnae, and PNMs often cry on this day because of all of the emotion involved. This is the last chance that chapters have to “sell” their sorority to the PNMs. By this point, all PNMs that are “preffed” are on that chapter’s bid list. If they actually end up getting a bid depends on how the PNM “ranks” the chapter. If all matches up, basically, their first choice is usually who is on their bid card. In some cases, their second or third choice is on their bid cards, so PNMs are cautioned that just because a chapter is listed as first by them on their final write-in does not mean they’re getting a bid from that chapter, but, there is an extremely high chance that they will.

Over the week of recruitment, I had gotten to know my PNMs that were assigned to me as their Rho Gamma quite well. Whether they liked me or not, they were all individuals who truly deserved the best, whatever that may be for them. One girl in my group absolutely loved me and I loved her–she was smart, gorgeous, funny, athletic–but I knew shortly after recruitment began that there was no way she was going to join my chapter. She told me on the last day that she truly hoped that my sorority was her first choice on her final voting card. It was so, so hard to remain objective as possible during pref day. We were sworn to secrecy to not, under any circumstances, ever tell a PNM what sorority we’re in, give them any clues on what to do, or persuade them to go one way or another. This is why I had to de-tag all of my pictures, why I had to stop talking to my sisters altogether for two months leading up to recruitment, and why my PNMs could not even know my real name. All to have the PNMs chose what they want based on their heart, not anyone else’s.

But, I’m sorry to say, Recruitment Exec members, fellow Rho Gammas, active sisters of all chapters at UCF, and all the PNMS that rushed that year: I broke all of those rules on the final day of recruitment. (Very few people know what I’m about to share, so feel privileged if you’re still reading!)

After all the pref ceremonies were over for that day, I handed the girls their final cards to rank the sororities for the very last time. There were three lines on the paper and that was where they would write each sorority’s name in order according to what was in their heart on what they wanted. Not all girls have three chapters that day, but must of them do. (Imagine if you had one, there’s no decision involved there!) I remember my Rho Gamma group was stationed at my chapter’s house that day. Of all days, we had to be stationed at mine on the hardest, most emotional day of recruitment. The sun was starting to go down and the sky was turning all colors of purple, pink and orange. There was a cool breeze that swept through the front lawn as we stood under the vacant white tent that once sat every last PNM who had participated in recruitment. Some of my girls spent no time at all on their final ranking, others went off into quiet corners and spent up to an hour deliberating on who to put first, second, and third.

One of my girls, who I had grown close to over the week, had told me earlier that day, “Mother Bread, I hope that you’re a sister in one of these houses I’m going to today. I would feel honored to have you be my sister.”

I smiled and said, “Oh, we’ll see,” not realizing the severity of her statement.

After she had spent about 30 minutes deciding who to put as first, second, and third, she handed me her card, but had a strong grip on her end. “I…I don’t know what to do,” she stammered.

“What do you mean?” I asked, letting go of her strong grip on the card.

“I just don’t know if I made the right choice. I really want to do the right thing, but I don’t know if this is right,” she told me.

It was then that I made a decision. All rules I had sworn by aside, I took her over to the steps of the house where my active sisters were just on the other side of the colored-with-paper glass plated windows. We sat on those steps as the sun still continued to go down and the other PNMs cautiously gave me their cards.

She told me again, “I want you to be my sister so bad. I don’t know if this right. I don’t even know if you’re in one of these chapters.”

I looked at the list she had again. I was in the chapter that was ranked “#2”  but I didn’t know what to say.

“I know, I would want you to be my sister too, ” I replied, almost shaking, knowing this conversation was highly illegal.

I don’t remember much of our conversation during the next five or so minutes, but I remember I eventually broke.

“I can’t tell you what to do, but I am going to tell you that I am in one of those chapters.”

She gasped and put both hands over her mouth. “Oh my gosh. I can’t believe it. Now this is even harder because I know it’s one of those three.”

I smiled and said, “Yes, it is, but I can’t tell you. I just can’t tell you…”

My voice probably wasn’t convincing because she looked at me in the eye and told me, “I would want you as my big sister. You’re so much like me, you’d be such a great big sister. I want you to initiate me and guide me through the new member period so badly.”

I held my breath and looked around for a minute which seemed like ten to me. “I would want you as my little sister too. I’ve never had a little sister. Well, I did, but we wound up not initiating her and she wasn’t a good fit for our chapter. But you are a good fit for my chapter. You are so perfect, you belong there.”

She looked me with a “what do I do” look and wanted me to tell her what to do. This is EXACTLY why the rules of Rho Gammas exist, because this is what can happen. And I had fallen directly into it, deep into it at that, and at this point I figured there was nothing else to do.

I looked back at the windows to make sure none of my own sisters were peeping through the small crevices between the paper and the glass plates on the windows. I glanced over to the tent where my fellow Rho Gammas were distracted by stacking and putting away chairs while a large fan blew looseleaf papers around under the tent. All of their PNMs had gone for the night and so had mine. We were the only ones left sitting. I looked at her list again and I held my breath.

“OK, I’m not going to tell you what I’m in, and you can’t tell anyone what I’m about to say, ever, but I’m going to tell you right now, if you want to be my sister, you’re gonna have to switch the first two.”

Her eyes lit up. “I knew it. I knew that was it. I knew I had the wrong choice. Oh my gosh, I knew it!”

I gave her an extra slip where she then wrote her three choices over again. I watched her, with no hesitation, write the three names next to each number. And my sorority was number one on her list.

…to be continued.

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The Other Side of Recruitment: Being A Rho Gamma, Part 1

This is the fifth in a multi-part tale of my experience with Greek life and sororities. This is not meant to offend, put down, or upset anyone about being in a sorority or being Greek (I was one too!). It is just my recount of how I became Greek, what happened once I became Greek, and how I ended my affiliation. Please do not take this offensively in any way.

During formal recruitment, there are three “sides” a girl can be on: a PNM (Potential New Member; those that are rushing), an active inside the house who has already rushed and accepted a bid/pledged/been initiated, and lastly, there’s the girls who have already successfully rushed and been through one formal recruitment in addition to their own and who have applied, interviewed, and chosen to be a Rho Gamma (or, leader of PNMs in recruitment). I had successfully dodged the PNM stage (which you can read about here) and been through one recruitment as an active, and I was now experiencing life on “the other side,” life as a Rho Gamma.

A Rho Gamma is an active sister of any sorority on campus, housed or un-housed, who has disaffiliated from their chapter in hopes to guide along PNMs as an unbiased, but knowledgeable, leader. For those that live and breathe by their sorority, the process of disaffiliation can be difficult. But, we all remind each other that is worth it in the end to be able to be there for the PNMs. We went through months of training in the evenings during the summer and spent days together team-building as Rho Gammas at retreats and getting to know each other. We did a beach clean up, we worked at a blood drive, and we worked at the orientations for the freshmen. We even had Rho Gamma dues, as if our chapter dues for our own sororities weren’t enough!

When June 25 rolled around, the day of freshman move-in on campus, we were then by disaffiliated from our sororities. Disaffiliation meant we weren’t allowed to wear our letters in any fashion (this includes car decals, lavaliere jewelry of any kind, t shirts, sweatshirts, shoes, etc). We weren’t allowed to be seen with any of our active sisters at any time (especially getting in and out of a car with letters on it). We had to de-tag all pictures of ourselves in any sorority pictures whatsoever on Facebook and remove all-things Greek from our profile. And believe me, the head Rho Gammas checked out every last one of our profiles to make sure we were abiding by the rules.

Once the week of recruitment started, we weren’t even allowed to live in our own apartments. We were given hotel rooms (which our dues paid for, none of this was free of course) that we shared with three or four other Rho Gammas. During this week, we were never allowed to be alone, except when physically inside the bathroom or shower. We were to have a buddy with us at all times, and that buddy was not allowed to be a sister from your same sorority.  The PNMs that were each in our group, assigned to us randomly (each RG has about 15 PNMs in their group), were not even allowed to know our real names. We had to think of funny, fake names for ourselves to go by during the week. So, my PNMs knew me as “Mother Bread.” (Clever, right?) Other Rho Gammas were names such as “M.I.A.” or “Turn Tables” or one girl was even, “Boobs.” We were given clothes every day to wear for each day of recruitment and had everything we were going to wear (right down to our shoes and jewelry) pre-approved by the head Rho Gammas. The head Rho Gammas took away our phones and we weren’t allowed to make or receive calls except during supervised times in the evenings.

I was in a hotel room with four other girls and two beds. Luckily there was a fold out couch which I immediately jumped onto when we entered the hotel room. Sharing a bed with a total stranger whom I barely knew was not something I was thrilled about doing for an entire week. I was in a room with an Alpha Xi, ADPi, AEPhi, and PiPhi. It was a pretty diverse mix of girls and most of us seemingly got along for the first few days, but we quickly noticed that one of the girls was prone to outbursts and crying on more than one occasion. I had to sleep in a room with these girls, share one bathroom with all four of these girls, eat all meals with them, and go from house to house every day with the PNMs with these girls. If you didn’t like who was in your group or someone didn’t like you, you were out of luck because there was no getting rid of anyone for that entire week.

The first day of recruitment was the longest. All of the PNMs are required to go to all of the chapters whether they liked it or not. Each “party” lasted about thirty minutes and we were outside for a good five to six hours in the hot Florida sun. After the day ended, the PNMs ranked each chapter from one to ten, one being their first choice and ten being their last. When they come back the second day, they’re given a list of chapters to go to based on their ranking and each sororities’ choosing. Some girls have as many as seven chapters to visit the second day, other girls could have as few as two. It’s all different based on the girl. For days two through five, the Rho Gammas are stationed at one house all day and we, more or less, stand at the front doors and lead the PNMs in the chants before opening the doors.

On my second day, we were stationed at Delta Delta Delta (Tri-Delta). It was philanthropy day and we were given a peach-colored t-shirt with a Helen Keller quote on the back and were to wear khaki skirts along with the shirt. Another Rho Gamma was french-braiding hair that morning before we left and she braided my hair into two braids. I looked like I was in grade school, but it was actually the “coolest” (literally) hair style any of us could think of when it was that hot outside!

The other four Rho Gammas in my group and I decided to get creative with the Tri-Delta symbol (ΔΔΔ) and whenever the Tri-D’s opened the door to let the PNMs exit, we had made their symbol in some way, whether laying down in their shapes or crossing our arms together to form three triangles. The Tri-D’s laughed at our creativity whenever opening the door to “Girls Just Wanna Have Fun,” their exit song. “Oh, Tri-Delts, they wanna have fu-un! Yeah, tri-delts, they wanna have fun!”

…to be continued with part 2, coming soon…

Once I Was Greek, Part 2

This is the fourth in a multi-part tale of my experience with Greek life and sororities. This is not meant to offend, put down, or upset anyone about being in a sorority or being Greek (I was one too!). It is just my recount of how I became Greek, what happened once I became Greek, and how I ended my affiliation. Please do not take this offensively in any way.

After struggling for over a year with trying to find time for my sorority and become closer with the girls, I finally found a group of girls within my sorority that were the most like me that I really “clicked with” instantly. It was all so easy and I had no idea that all it took was for me to make a small effort with our chapter’s President.

It was a Saturday in the spring, close to summer. I was out doing some errands and realized that I had absolutely nothing planned for the rest of the day. I had spoken with our President a few times before regarding taking a trip to Disney World, so I had her phone number in my phone. I called her while I was in the Wal-Mart parking lot and I think she was surprised to hear from me, asking her what she was doing. We soon met up and went shopping for a few hours and had lunch. That small effort that I made with her turned into a deep, close relationship that I hadn’t had with someone so similiar to me in many years.

That one afternoon later turned into sleepovers at each other’s houses, going out to the local college bars during the week and weekends (me as the DD, of course), crying over lost boys together, drinking wine coolers in my brand-new-no-furniture-in-the-living-room townhouse, pretending my new jacuzzi bathtub was a hot-tub in our bathing suits after nights at the bar, trips to Disney World since she worked there and could get us in for free, and even a weekend getaway to West Palm Beach to The Breakers. We shared our deepest secrets with each other and knew so much about each other’s lives. She was raised so similar to me, had the same morals and values in life, and was there for me like no one else. I vividly remember spending a late night in the Underground Blu parking lot in disguise spying on a certain boy that I will not name. It’s those little memories about sorority life that they’re right when they say, you never forget them.

Before I was an official sister in my sorority, I heard time and again from everyone the saying that was proven to be so true in my life as a sorority sister: what you put into it is what you get out of it. I made one leap into the dark essentially, and what I got out of it was a best friend and a group of girls that knew me so well and were so supportive of me in every aspect of my life.

In that same spring semester (2007), during chapter one Sunday evening, an announcement was made about the upcoming formal recruitment. Evidently every chapter on campus is required to have a certain percentage of girls apply to be a “Rho Gamma.” Rho Gammas are essentially the “leaders” of recruitment. Each Rho Gamma is assigned about fifteen girls in their group that they take around to each house during rush. The Rho Gammas are there as support to the girls to answer questions about rush, offer advice to girls, and to guide them along in the process. No matter what Rho Gammas did during recruitment, anything sounded better than being inside the house with the chapter until 5am going through recruitment procedures as a chapter. It is grueling being “on the other side” of recruitment. Chapters tend to form a strong bond during this time because they are together for nearly 24 hours a day during recruitment. Truthfully: I hated it. S0, it an attempt to escape, I decided to apply to be a Rho Gamma. The application was rather extensive and also included an interview. I figured the odds of me being chosen to represent UCF Greek Life as a whole were stacked against me, but since a certain percentage was required to apply, I decided to do it.

My interview wasn’t the best. I didn’t know how to answer a lot of their questions and I was interviewed by two girls representing the “true sorority stereotypes” on campus. I sat at a big conference table of about fifteen chairs–me on one end of the table, and the two of them on the other. They were very hard to read and were good at remaining objective and showing zero emotion during the interview. After asking detailed, thought provoking questions, they each smiled for the first time and said, “Okay. For the last question. If you were a shoe, what kind of shoe would you be?”

I sat there thinking of not only my answer, but what kind of question this was. Obviously, whatever kind of shoe you answered you’d be, was symbolic of a personality trait. Perhaps stiletto meant you were classy and liked to be the center of attention and tennis shoe meant you were low-maintenance and easy-going, or something. My answer? A pink glittery flip flop. Beachy, yet girly.

About a month or two later, the list of accepted 2007 Rho Gammas was read allowed during a Panhellenic meeting at the Kappa Delta house. All of the girls from my sorority who had applied sat so nervously in the folding chairs as, at the end of the meeting, the list was read. We held hands tightly and congratulated each other quietly when we heard another one’s name. They read the list fast and asked girls not to clap until the end. My sister who sat to the right of me was one of the accepted names, but the girl to my left was not. Finally, toward the end, I heard my name. I felt so relieved and I don’t know why; I didn’t even really want to be a Rho Gamma when I thought about it, but again–anything sounded better than staying in the house for 20 hours a day. At the same time as my relief, I felt so terrible for the girl next to me who was one of two girls from our chapter that applied that did not get accepted, who were so genuinely happy for the rest of us.

Little did I know what hell I was getting myself into, very quickly.

Coming up–Recruitment on the other side: My Experience as a Rho Gamma, Part 1.

Once I Was Greek, Part 1

This is the third in a multi-part tale of my experience with Greek life and sororities. This is not meant to offend, put down, or upset anyone about being in a sorority or being Greek (I was one too!). It is just my recount of how I became Greek, what happened once I became Greek, and how I ended my affiliation. Please do not take this offensively in any way.

I accepted my bid from my sorority and had my formal pledging ceremony in my white dress that was sprinkled with green, blue, and pink flowers. I still remember having a zit on my face that was so big and under-the-surface that I could barely smile for the pictures. I was given my “big sister” at this chapter-held ceremony in a lecture hall classroom since our sorority did not have a house. Once I walked out of that first chapter meeting, I was immediately thrown into a social array of activities called “sorority life.”

Our first social was a “white house, black market” theme at a nightclub in the area. I quickly bonded with a girl who also had a love for dancing on stages and high boxes at clubs. We had a sisterhood event where we were given facials and watched movies while eating pizza and bread sticks. My pledge class had a new member retreat where we dove head first into learning about the sorority, its songs, its values, and each other. We all grew so close as a pledge class that night and by the end of the retreat, we were unified as the “eta class.”

My pledge class had the amazing opportunity to be initiated along with another spring pledge class from another university in our state–Florida State University. I had absolutely no idea on this earth what to expect for an initiation and to be perfectly honest–I was freaked out beyond my wildest dreams. You always hear of initiation stories being the ultimate hazing stories–the ones where the already initiated members make the “pledges” do crazy things that can sometimes even jeopardize the pledges’ lives. I didn’t think that this sorority, based on what I already knew about them, was capable of doing anything to hurt me, but I honestly had no idea what was going on the entire ceremony. Some girls in my pledge class may tell you that I was hilarious, asking so many questions and laughing as I was being ushered into the ceremony because I was so scared and feared the unknown. Others may say I ruined the initiation process because I didn’t take it serious enough. Truthfully: I was freaked out and had never been a part of anything like this before. It wasn’t what I was used to and I had no warning what was going to happen as I hadn’t really known a lot of people that were Greek. (Plus, if you can’t tell by my already-present vagueness, initiation is a serious ritual that is not spoken of except through sisters of the same sorority) I left initiation at FSU that weekend feeling like I was finally let in on all of the “secrets.” There was no longer a division between us, the new member class, and the rest of the sisters. We had all become unified and shared secrets that we will have with us until we die. Once initiated, always initiated; once a sister, ALWAYS a sister.

Even through my new member period and once I was initiated, I struggled a lot with “fitting in” with the rest of the girls. I knew that I had a lot of potential to be close with a lot of them, but I just always felt like I wasn’t fully immersing into it all the way and therefore felt like I wasn’t fitting in with everyone else. Looking back on it, I believe there were two major things that contributed to my feeling this way:

  1. Throughout my four years in college, I always worked. I worked at Panera, I worked at Cheesecake Factory, and I worked at Panera again. The last year I was in my sorority, I was promoted to manager at Panera and therefore started working much, much more than my mere fifteen hours a week at Cheesecake. I had to work so I could pay for my living expenses as well as split my dues with my parents. I could no longer participate in everything, couldn’t give “110%” to my sorority, and therefore wasn’t always around at events. Not because I didn’t want to be, but because I couldn’t be.
  2. I was, as previously described, never a true “sorority girl.” I don’t believe I was “destined” to be in a sorority nor do I believe that it was “the thing for me” or “the best decision I’ve ever made in my life.” I do believe, however, without a doubt, that I joined the right one. I just wasn’t the most thrilled girly-girl in the chapter about all-things-Greek, including certain fraternities which I will not name.

Those two issues alone were enough to build up a lot of frustration inside of me. I hardly noticed any other girls who had work for their dues, who couldn’t attend things because they had to work to pay for them, and certainly no one would ever admit they weren’t the girliest-of-all-girls-sorority-girl-gung-ho-about-all-things-Greek. Although, clearly, this was all just my perception. There is “more than meets the eye” and I found this out quicker than I could have ever imagined.

How I Became Greek, Part 2

This is the second in a multi-part tale of my experience with Greek life and sororities. This is not meant to offend, put down, or upset anyone about being in a sorority or being Greek (I was one too!). It is just my recount of how I became Greek and how I ended my affiliation. Please do not take this offensively in any way.

I returned to UCF after Christmas in January to start my second semester of my first year. Having almost regretting the decision not to rush, I decided that this coming fall would be my year to rush. I knew that I’d be one of the few sophomores participating in recruitment, but much to my surprise a girl that was in my SPC1600 (Speech) class who was also in my Bible study group decided that she was going to rush too. She was a little shorter than me, naturally tan skin, beautiful face, and had long, curly black hair I once heard someone refer to as “an entire accessory in itself.” She had a laugh that could be heard and recognized in a lecture class of over 300 people. One day at our weekly Bible study, she overheard me saying that I was going to rush in the fall.

“Omigod, I’m gonna rush too!” she exclaimed. We both stood up and held each other’s hands and jumped up and down saying, “We’re gonna be sisters!”

It was a total exaggeration and pipe dream at the same time–we both knew the odds of both of us rushing and picking the same sorority who in turn would each pick us were slim, but we loved the idea of becoming sisters, even to dream. A few weeks went by and I didn’t see her at our weekly Bible study, but I ran into her campus one day in between classes. It was right outside of the Chick-Fil-A near the Student Union. “Omygoshhey!” she said, hugging me.

I hugged her back, and as I started to ask her, “How are you?” I saw something on her shoulder. A light khaki colored bag with three letters on it sewn in blue.

“Ohmygosh, what is this?! Some kind of joke?” I grabbed the bag from her shoulder. How could she be carrying a sorority bag with authentic sorority letters on it if there was no opportunity to even join the sorority–a small, tiny, easy process known as “formal recruitment?”

She ran her fingers through the top of her big curly hair, parting it to the left and laughed that trademark laugh of hers. “No, haha, it’s real! I just joined!”

I could see my puzzled face in the reflection of her big Jackie O sunglasses. “Wh–wh–wait. How?!” I managed to squeak out.

“Spring recruitment! It’s still going on now. It’s not advertised or anything. All week we’re meeting girls. I’ll invite you to the next event. Gotta go!” she whisked off into the mirage of people as I still stood in the corridor confused. She had become a “we.” She had that sisterhood already. All I knew at that point was that whatever she had, I wanted it. She and I were such similar people that it made so much sense to me for us to be in the same sorority.

I soon found out that this “spring recruitment” is a “hush-hush” term in the Greek world. My friend was right, it’s not advertised and it’s kind of like an “invite only” recruitment, if you can even call it that. It’s formal recruitment off steroids. If a sorority doesn’t make their quota during formal recruitment (determined by how many girls rushed and how many were given bids on the final day–it’s different every year), they can chose to have a spring recruitment. Basically, they hold small events such as pool parties, ice cream socials, dinners out, study sessions in the library, and so fourth, where sisters can invite who they choose to the events. If a current member thinks that “this person” would be great in the sorority, they invite them to an event, and if the girls like them, they’re given a bid. Pretty simple. Much, much easier than going to ten houses in the blistering Florida heat in August and being eliminated/eliminating each chapter one by one over five grueling days.

The first time I ever met the girls from her sorority was when she invited me to a lunch they were having outside on campus. It was a Wednesday I remember, because all the girls were wearing their jerseys. I walked up with my friend-turned-new-sister of this sorority and was introduced to the new member chairman who was sitting at one of the iron tables with an unmovable white “umbrella” overhang. She took down some of my information and I began to ask questions about it and met a few of the girls.

One thing I noticed right away was that each girl was so different. One girl was tall with a short, almost boy-like haircut and aviator sunglasses. Another was wearing a jean skirt with her jersey and had blonde hair and blue eyes. They were all interested in me and wanted to know more about me. The concept was weird, that essentially they were deciding if they liked me enough to join their group, but all I knew was that I had to be myself and nothing more. If they didn’t like me, it was their loss, right? The new member chairman said she would call me if they decided to hold any more events for PNMs (potential new members) to attend. I didn’t receive a call until a few days later when I was sitting at my desk in my dorm room.

“We’re having a study session in the library on the third floor if you’d like to come,” she told me. I looked down at what I was wearing. A tank top and sweatpants. My hair was pulled back into a messy bun and I barely had any make-up on. I figured I needed at least one more time to meet these girls, so I said okay.

“Sure, I’ll walk over in a few minutes,” I responded. I put on some jeans and flip flops and my baby pink Georgetown Hoyas sweatshirt and headed out the door. I met them on the third floor of the library and sat at one of the cubicles next to a few girls. We talked mostly–did absolutely no studying except perhaps a little statistics (my struggling subject). I don’t remember staying long at all because my boyfriend (at the time) came to take me up to the fourth level (the quiet level) to study for statistics some more. I told the girls goodbye and they said that was the last event they had planned for PNMs. I walked away thinking there was no way any of them got to know me enough to want me in their sorority, so I shrugged it off and dug my head in my statistics book for hours.

The following week, I had lunch with my friend from my Bible study who had just become a member. I asked her a bunch of questions about the sorority and everything she told me really impressed me. Sisters weren’t allowed to be seen drinking, smoking, or cussing at any time in their letters. They all had standards and values and they were respected leaders in our campus community. They had a high chapter average GPA and frequently won Greek sponsored events such as Greek Week or Homecoming week. They had themed socials every few weeks, sisterhood events, retreats, and chapter every Sunday night. Everything she said was dead on with what I believed for my own life. The girls were articulate, down-to-earth, and intelligent; not over-done, ditzy, or made up with too much make up. They were all completely the opposite of the stereotype I had in my head of what sorority girls were like.

I was, however, concerned that if I was offered a bid from them that I could not accept it because of the ever-present money issue. Dues for the first semester were the highest you’ll ever pay, they told me, and they were priced at over $1000. I certainly didn’t have an extra $1000 lying around anywhere and neither did my parents. I talked to them about it and they wanted to “cross that bridge when we got to it” but really the correct phrase is, “if we got there.” I told my friend who had just joined, “I just don’t think my parents will say okay to it since obviously they’re going to have to pay.” She looked at me and said something that has still stayed with me today and that was, “Taylor, your parents are going to support you in whatever you decide to do.”

And they did. Because they told me later that if I was offered a bid, I could accept it. Just when I gave up hope that I wasn’t going to receive a bid, I was sitting in my dorm room with my boyfriend on a Saturday around 1:00pm. My phone rang and it was a number I didn’t recognize, so I almost didn’t answer it.

“Answer it! It could be a bid!” he exclaimed, having been through fraternity rush himself years earlier.

I answered, “Hello?”

“Hi Taylor, this is [insert name here] from [sorority]. We’d like to extend to you a bid. Do you accept?” It was all so formal. I stammered trying to process what she just said to me and when I realized that I had been invited at that exact moment to join this sorority that was all-too-perfect for me, with a huge smile on my face, I said, “Yes, I accept.”

…to be continued.

How I Became Greek, Part 1

This is the first in a multi-part tale of my experience with Greek life and sororities. This is not meant to offend, put down, or upset anyone about being in a sorority or being Greek (I was one too!). It is just my recount of how I became Greek and how I ended my affiliation. Please do not take this offensively in any way.

When I attended orientation at UCF in May 2005, I remember walking up to the Panhellenic booth set up in the Pegasus Ballroom. The girls that were standing near the tri-fold board had on black polo shirts and khaki shorts and their hair was down, in perfect, non-frizzy curls. “Hi! Interested in rushing this year?” One girl said to me. I can still remember how strong her perfume smelled, like Clinique Happy.

“Oh, umm, yes. Maybe. I had a question though.” My 17 year old self who had been sitting through orientation since 7:30am had frizzy curly hair and was slow at reacting to such a perky girl.

“Sure!” she bounced.

“Well, I was thinking about rushing this summer, but I’m going to be out of town for the first three days.”

She smiled and said, “Oh! That’s totally fine! When you register, just let them know! And then you can come join us on the last two days!” I guessed that they figured it was better than missing recruitment altogether.

I asked her, “What sorority are you in?” Hoping I could get some sort of inside opinion.

“Aha, I can’t tell you,” she said, smiling big with her blue eyes making full contact with my pale greens which were darting back and fourth, confused. If you’re in a sorority, you can’t tell anyone which one you’re in? Then why does everyone wear shirts and jerseys and bags with their letters on them? I learned a few months later that she was a “Rho Gamma” which is a recruitment leader, which was ironic considering the end of my story (which will be revealed later).

After discussing it with my mother back in the hotel room that night and reading about UCF’s strict anti-hazing policy, I was convinced that I would be rushing in a few months.

Somehow, while I was at UCF for my first summer semester, I decided that Greek life was not for me.  I’m not sure what exactly made me change my mind, but I did, and I was confident that there was no way I was going to rush. Especially since none of my friends from high school were going to rush, either. We’d drive through Greek row making fun of the houses but also were curious as to what went on inside of them. Once recruitment came and went and I didn’t attend, I did not regret my decision not to rush in the slightest. However I still continued to congratulate every girl in my classes and dorm hallway that received bids. The more I walked around campus, the more I kept seeing all these girls bobbing around in heels and their sorority bags with their letters on them with bright blonde curled-with-a-curling-iron-and-sprayed-with-too-much-hair-spray hair on top of a head that was covered in make-up. And this was just to go to class or the gym! I did not want to associate myself with an organization that believed in something that I did not agree with and to me, that was judging someone by their outer appearance. (Or so it appeared to me)

A girl I met my first summer at UCF rushed and joined a sorority and I ran into her on campus in the fall. She was actually a member of the sorority that I am a legacy (my mom’s mom was one at UGA) of and she told me, “Oh my gosh, you should rush! You would definitely fit in with us.” She was beautiful with long brown hair, olive flawless skin, sickeningly straight bleached teeth, and came from a family with lots of money. I didn’t think I’d really fit in with her girls, so I laughed it off and said, “Heh, maybe.”

It wasn’t until Christmas break of 2005 that I remember looking at some of the sororities’ websites at UCF. As I watched the slideshow of pictures whip, dissolve, and spin on and off the screen, I started feeling like maybe this was something I should at least give a chance. All the girls were so pretty and classy. They all looked cute in their matching shirts, shorts, and high heels in their recruitment pictures. They all had a sense of belonging (later I would learn the term more appropriate would be “sisterhood”) that was contagious to me, just through the pictures. I decided that I would take a leap against every stereotype I had associated Greek life with and rush in the fall. At least if I still hated all-things-Greek, I’d have actual reasoning to back up my opinion, right? Part of me also wanted to see what they thought of me. Could I be in the sorority that is classified as “the prettiest?” And would the sorority that I was a legacy of that I honestly thought had nothing in common with me give me a bid? It was one of those decisions in life that I figured I would never find out these answers unless I opened my mind and my heart and gave it all a chance.

…to be continued.

10 Things I Believe In…

This prompt is courtesy of the creativity portal imagination prompt from Google.

Remember, these are just my opinion. I’m not trying to say this is the right way to go or that I’m always right. This is just my opinion that I’ve formed thus far in my life.

Here are ten things I believe in:

  1. “Nothing worth having is easy to get.” ~My Dad, on graduate school. This is by far one of the single most important things my dad has ever said to me. He told me this a few years when I first started considering grad school for myself. Now, almost daily, do I find myself in situations where this is the statement that comes to my mind. This goes for academics, careers, relationships, and love.
  2. A life lived in stress is not worth it in the end. I could write about examples of this for the rest of my life, but I’m going to keep this short. At the end of the day, I truly don’t think anything is worth getting worked up over in any capacity. Stress is so damaging to your quality of life and overall health that it is almost sickening to me how much people get upset over the tiniest things. In the end, how much you get stressed is not going to matter. And getting stressed does absolutely nothing to help the situation whatsoever.
  3. I could not have gotten through my life so far without the help of God. He is ever-present in my life and has never once let me down. I don’t know how people can live their lives without Him, but that’s just my opinion. He is merciful, forgiving, and sovereign.
  4. All relationships take work, all the time. It’s so easy to take someone for granted in life, or even to take a relationship for granted. I’ve learned through my own experiences and watching others that there is not a single relationship in life that does not take extreme amounts of work, constantly. No relationship will survive without maintenance and work from both or all parties involved.
  5. There is no other human that anyone can depend on but themselves. I’ve already done an entire post on this a few weeks ago, but this one of my strongest beliefs in life and also one that I can personally testify in my own life. I wish so badly that everyone could believe this too.
  6. “But the most exciting, fun, significant relationship you have is the one you have with yourself. And if you find someone to love the you you love, well, that’s just fabulous.” ~Carrie Bradshaw The very last line of Sex and the City gives me chills every time I watch it. This may be one of the most true statements of that series.
  7. If there is an earthly body, there is also a spiritual body.” ~1 Corinthians 15:44 Having lost two pets (a dog and a cat) so far in my life, after the last one passed, I truly believe with all of my heart and everything inside of me that I will see my animals again in heaven. This verse proves it so well.
  8. Absolutely no one deserves to be lied to, no matter the situation. I don’t think that anyone, no matter who they are or what they have done, ever deserves to be lied to by anyone else. There is no excuse for lying and at the same time there is no reason anyone should ever settle for it. So many people take disrespect and lying from people all the time and it hurts me greatly to see them settling. It’s not worth it to lie, ever, and it’s never worth it to be lied to either.
  9. “Some people are settling down, some people are settling, and some people refuse to settle for anything less…than butterflies.” ~Carrie Bradshaw This goes with what I said in the previous point. There is that one person out there for everyone that will always, always bring butterflies to you. And I believe in waiting for it, because eventually you will find it. Until then, anything else is “settling.”
  10. Finally–I believe in trying the best I can to not judge others and to keep an open mind as best I can in every situation. I try really hard at this. I don’t think it’s fair to anyone to judge them on anything–everyone is different, has grown up different, and been through different experiences in life that make them who they are today and why they believe what they believe. Just because they don’t agree with me does not mean they’re wrong and I’m right. (And that goes for all 10 of these points too!)

One more I thought was more than necessary in my life (those that know me personally can account to this) as quoted by my favorite and great Tom Petty: “Good love is hard to find.”