That time I was in a sorority, Part 3

25 May

You can read Part 1 here and Part 2 here. Also– thank you guys so much for your comments on my last post. I certainly don’t see myself as inspirational. To be totally honest, I’m terrified. But thank you for your support!

On bid day, as we all milled around the front of the sorority house, I felt sorely out of place as everyone got together for pictures and did a lot of jumping up and down and squealing. It was like all of these girls already knew each other and I just can’t muster up that kind of fake excitement for people I don’t know. I have never been the kind of person who is good at striking up a conversation with a stranger and I kind of suck at small talk. So what I remember about that day is standing around fake smiling and waiting for someone to come up to me and talk to me. I remember being relieved when I got to go back to my dorm room.

That feeling would only get worse as the weeks wore on.

As an official pledge, there would be a “training” period in which I would slowly be introduced to the sorority’s “rituals” (which are basically their secrets- secret handshake, secret songs, secret ceremonies, blah blah blah). At the end of this time, we would be initiated in a secret ceremony at a secret location at a secret time. More on that later.

We were also quickly told what was expected of us, which included, but was not limited to:

-Money. They would be needing lots and lots of money.

-Weekly attendance at chapter meetings. We were only allowed to miss a couple a semester.

-Attendance at new member classes, in addition to meeting my pledge class for lunch like once a week.

-Participation in homecoming crap which included working on a float. Which meant that I spent hours stuffing tissue paper into the side of a trailer.

-Attendance at a variety of events such as a retreat, intramural games, etc.

-Visits to the sorority house to spend time with our sisters.

I really wish I could remember more of the specifics to tell you. But that whole time period is murky, as I was dealing with being a freshman in college and being away from home for the first time, in addition to missing my boyfriend. I remember dreading almost every meeting, but at the same time wanting to connect with someone and find a friend.

And here I will foray into the One Good Thing I Got Out of Being in a Sorority. Her name is Lori. She is one of my best friends. If I hadn’t joined, I probably wouldn’t have met her and if I had, it would have been under very different circumstances. As I sat at a table at one of our pledge class lunches, I overheard her mention what high school she went to. It was the same high school Hubs attended (for those of you playing  along at home, Hubs was not my boyfriend then, but was simply a guy I’d had a crush on for my whole life), so I asked her if she knew him. She said “Oh yeah, I’m Lori, Lisa’s sister.”

Huh.

She was the sister of the girl Hubs dated all through high school. I had met Lisa a few times at some various get-togethers my family and Hubs’ family attended together. Small freakin’ world. So we hit it off and the rest is history. Now ten years later (TEN!) we’re still friends and that will always be worth everything I endured after joining a sorority. (And if you’re interested, Hubs and I are friends with Lisa and have actually hung out with her and her husband. It’s not at all awkward and as far as ex-girlfriends-of-my-husbands go, she’s awesome!)

Anyway, my experience improved significantly after I met Lori. Now I had a friend at meetings and she knew some of the other girls so I was kind of adopted into their group. Lori is outgoing and funny and likeable and I was lucky to have her by my side.

We started learning more about what it meant to be in a sorority, including the structure of the national organization and our chapter, about the expectations of members, and ways that participation enhances your college experience and your future. (This also included learning about the history of fraternities and sororities, and we had to memorize the Greek alphabet. I can still sing it perfectly.) In their defense, it really is more than buying your friends or partying. For those people who love it, it is a family and something to be proud of. There is a rich history there, full of ideals and goals and pride.

Having said that, can I tell you how ridiculous it feels to learn a secret handshake? Or how hard it is to keep a straight face as you are forced to get on your knees and stay in that position for what feels like hours in a room full of candles and pictures of the founding mothers? Or how it feels as your “sisters” tease you about initiation, making not-so-vague references to a goat and some secret part of initiation that involves a goat? Or how it feels to have to wait for someone to pick you as a sorority “mom”?  It feels pretty ridiculous. And as I was exposed to more and more of the “secret” side of sorority life, while part of me was kind of intrigued and felt like I was “in” on something, most of me was thinking two things 1) This is silly; and 2) This feels dangerously close to church.

I stuck to it though, because as we can all tell by now, I refused to see that I needed to GET.OUT.

As initiation drew closer, the time we were expected to spend on sorority activities increased. I still felt out of place and I still felt silly, but I did want to fit in. And that is how I got suckered into the ring ceremony.

Right around this time, my boyfriend gave me a promise ring. The sorority had a tradition that every time someone got pinned, got a promise ring, or got engaged, they had a little informal singing ceremony. We would all stand in a circle and sing a song (and I REALLY wish I remembered the words, because it was ridiculous) and pass around a candle. If the candle went around once and someone blew it out, they had been pinned. Twice for a promise ring and three times for an engagement.

So there I stood, in a group of girls I didn’t really know, who were all thinking that one of the seniors had gotten engaged, waiting to blow out a stupid candle while they sang a stupid song. When it was over and everyone mustered up excitement for me, the quiet girl that no one really knew, I felt so stupid. Yet still, I STAYED. Let’s all take a moment and ask past Kristina WHY??? (Also, I tell you this story not to embarrass myself (which I have) but to showcase some of the ridiculous activities I took part in).

And now I’ve gone on for over 1,200 words and I’ve probably lost some of you. I’ll continue this soon. So you know what that means, right? FIVE parts. FIVE parts of this crap.

Are you all incredibly bored??

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5 Responses to “That time I was in a sorority, Part 3”

  1. Life of a Doctor's Wife May 26, 2011 at 6:51 am #

    Not bored – fascinated! This sounds like such a unique experience, and it’s totally foreign to me. Can’t wait for the next installment!

  2. Heather May 26, 2011 at 9:36 am #

    I echo ‘Life of a Doctor’s Wife’ and am the complete opposite of bored! You’re also sparking memories of my sorority days, which is fascinating to me in its own way.

    Anxiously awaiting Part 4…

  3. nwgirl May 26, 2011 at 12:17 pm #

    No! Although I am starting to have scary flashbacks! 🙂

  4. Corinne May 26, 2011 at 2:39 pm #

    I joined a sorority during college and was in it for 2 years…then realized I couldn’t financially keep up – sad thing was that it didn’t matter that I was working 2 jobs to still be a member – if I couldn’t cover the cost. But instead of “sisterly love” I was restricted from attending events until my dues were paid.

    Umm..yeah…awesome. I was working 40+ hours so I could pay my entire monthly bill along with school bills. Needless to say, I quit after moving out of the house.

    Hope you and your family is staying safe during this crazy weather! I basically caused myself an ulcer yesterday from all the worrying!

  5. Jenn May 30, 2011 at 7:10 pm #

    I’m not bored, quite the opposite! 🙂

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