If I hear another person describe sorority women as “catty,” “materialistic” or “shallow” I may scream. When I typed “sorority women catty” into Google, I got 4,510,000 results. Words like “materialistic” and “shallow” were not far behind.
Television shows and movies often portray sorority women as all these things, instead of the kind, gracious, and generous women they actually are. The movies do not show that sororities are based upon traditions, creeds and rituals dedicated to values like sincerity, friendship, good citizenship, service, character, inclusiveness, loyalty and personal development.
When sorority presidents came together in 1902 to form the National Panhellenic Conference, they realized that the exclusionary advancement of their own sorority would not be sufficient. In order to succeed against the adversities they faced from universities and government legislatures, they would have to come together. If you’re considering, but hesitant, about joining a sorority, I hope my story changes your mind.
My Sorority Story
One of my own secrets is that I was not actually 100 percent committed to joining my sorority up until just one week before initiation day. I had gone to all the meetings, participated in all the events, and had even been matched with the perfect Big. I made friends, and suddenly my social calendar was packed. Even though I was happy, I let my preconceived notions hold me back from fully making my decision. Instead of basing my decisions on my own experiences and intuition, I allowed it to be diluted by the stereotypes I had heard. The tipping point for me was a letter I received from Ashley, a member of my sorority family who I had never actually met, but had heard about my trepidation. She explained the impact that joining our sorority had on her collegiate experience and on her life after college — when she graduated, sisters continued to be her closest friends and were her bridesmaids at her wedding.
As a freshman, it is hard to think one week ahead much less four years ahead, but when I read her letter, I realized for the first time that sisterhood means that you have a support network that is everlasting. My sorority sisters and the Panhellenic community impacted my college experience and continue to impact on my life today. I developed mentors, tutors, role models, therapists, life coaches, friends and confidants.
At a recent LocalLEVO New York event, I met a Levo Leaguer who told me that she joined a sorority after she read my articles on the benefits of Greek life. Like many people, she initially thought that sorority women were competitive and catty but the articles showed her that sorority women are not what she had expected. She explained that she “met women who realized that a sense of fraternity extends beyond letters and beyond Greek life. They took care of their own by nurturing healthy relationships and ensuring that other women have the resources they need to succeed and break glass ceilings.”
I have often heard sorority women say, “From the outside looking in, you can never understand it. From the inside looking out, you can never explain it.”
Perhaps that is the best-kept secret.