When I was a first year college student, I joined a sorority. I pledged the next four years of my life to Kappa Alpha Theta, and it was one of the best decisions I have ever made.
Many people cannot get past all the negative (sometimes well-deserved) attention sororities and fraternities get in the media. I do not blame them. Someone once told me that no one gives these organizations praise for doing the right thing, because that’s what is expected of them, and my experience has proven this to be true.
There is a lot to be said about an organization dedicated supporting college aged women in their journey. It’s an organization that holds women to a higher standard – one that lets young women develop into strong, independent women. The support doesn’t stop after graduation, but rather, it continues for as long as you need.
Feminists do not have the greatest view on sororities. I have spent more than a year working in the Women’s Center on my college campus, and I often find myself defending my sorority and my decision to pledge. Most of these discussions stem from misunderstanding.
“Don’t you all have to dress the same? Did they make you lose weight? They tell you what to do, right? Oh, you must be dating a frat boy.”
These things are the images people see in movies and television. They’re easy to see, and they make sororities easy to hate. What’s hard to see is the sisterhood and empowerment that happens on the inside of the beautiful walls.
Many people have this notion that women hate each other. They have these ideas that women cannot stand to be around other women, and sometimes this is the truth. I hear women share the idea of only having male friends because men understand in a different way. They add a different viewpoint. Women just cannot understand and support them in the way they need. While those friendships may hold true in those people’s lives, that has not been the case for me.
Connecting with female friends can unlock so much power. When women are powered by other women, it is one of the most incredible feelings. I am surrounded by women who are ambitious and motivated. They endure all my ups and downs and never think twice about my sanity. When I cry or I’m frustrated beyond belief, I am backed by 90 women who would do anything to help me.
I have learned so much from living with these women. I have learned how to respectfully communicate my feelings and thoughts to others in times of conflict. I learned how to work with difficult people who do not care about anyone but themselves. I learned how to interact with people who are too invested in one thing to even think about the bigger picture.
I have been able to expand my leadership style, and the most exciting part about that is I model my leadership after feminism; I want to empower the women to expand their own leadership style. I want to serve as a support and resource instead of micromanaging and making decisions for them. This organization is powerful. It is philanthropic. It is selfless. It is a nonhierarchical organization of female leaders, empowering one another to achieve their goals.
I have learned compassion and understanding. I have gained patience – lots of patience. But the most important quality I have gained since joining this organization is unconditional love.
I love the women who stand by my side on bid day when we gain a whole new group of women to call our sisters. I love the women who bring men into the facility when they’re not supposed to. I love the women who throw up in the bathrooms after a night of drinking to forget. I love the women who keep me up for hours giggling and talking about our families and our dreams. I love the women who gave up their membership because it just wasn’t for them. They are all perfectly imperfect. And they love all my imperfections in return.
These women have made me better. They see me for who I am, and they accept it. We all share similar values and goals – even though those get lost every now and again. They motivate me and encourage me to not sell myself short. They know what I deserve, and they are a constant reminder of who I aspire to become.
These women are the reason why joining a sorority was one of the best decisions I have ever made.