For me, sororities have been a personal point of contention since middle school. I grew up in Texas, where going greek was basically guaranteed and just as an essential part of “the college experience” as communal bathrooms or a 101 lecture is. My friends and I looked towards our older siblings or girls we knew as they went off to college and rushed, and excitedly waited for our turns by stalking sorority tumblrs or interrogating them on breaks home.
But as I headed into high school and dove deeper into my personality and interests, I started to doubt what I’d previously taken for granted. I was a member of National Charity League, and my particular chapter was essentially a simulated southern sorority experience—I was also in a BBYO chapter, which put on “bid day” and initiation events, had mixers with male chapters, and assigned me a big sister. Though I liked both experiences and met a lot of people, something didn’t feel totally right to me. I came to realize through them that, if I was totally honest with myself, I was kind of introverted. I didn’t love social experiences designed to introduce and bond you with several others. I preferred sticking to the few longtime close friends I have who know me well, and instead have more friendly acquaintances.
Coming to such a conclusion was hard for me. We’re all brought up in highly social environments, encouraged to make friends with everyone and try new things. The people in my life (and thus I) always assumed that I was totally compatible with such an environment. I was the proud sleep-away camper with nine summers under her belt, spent weekends hopping around my friend’s houses and spending the night, loved parties, and even earned the “talkative girl” identity every year in class from teachers. Though I never had explicit issues with being social, there was another, more private side of me that only grew as I got older. Not only did I love spending time alone reading, writing, working, or listening to music, I required it in order to otherwise feel fully functional in social settings. It wasn’t a bad thing at all, it just meant that it was a little bit harder to seem talkative and fun and outgoing all the time.
Nevertheless, I wanted to join a sorority—it was something I practically took for granted, and nearly everyone from high school planned on it. When I arrived to college, I looked forward to recruitment and jealousy eyed older girls in them for having what seems like such great friends and networks. In fact, in those first few months, it seemed like the only way to recreate the close group of girls I had been a part of at home, and I missed that in my new collegiate life. But then I met people and made good friends, and it seemed like less of an absolute. I also found myself opting out of going out and settling on one night a week, preferring more so to stay in and keep it lowkey. I registered for rush in November and shopped around for dresses, but found myself unwilling to fully commit; I just couldn’t envision myself thriving and considered it more and more like something I had to do instead of a choice.
After extensive discussion with my parents and friends over winter break (I had two flights booked back to NOLA: one for rush and one not!), I finally decided against it. I was content with my life at Tulane, and knew that ultimately it just wasn’t for me. I knew that my decision was significant: considering my seemingly fixed notion growing up that sororities were essential and Tulane’s strong greek life, choosing to refrain felt like I was finally truly owning my introvertedness—I was solidifying my satisfaction with being less social and shaping my college experience outside of what I’d previously considered the norm.
Now, nearly halfway through this semester, I’m confident I made the right choice for me. There’s a lot I feel like I’m missing out on: my friends in sororities are making super meaningful connections with their sisters and older girls. Plus, decorated beds are solid Instagram gold. But from their insight, I can tell that such an environment would ultimately take more out of me than give. Fighting to establish your ideal college life, no matter what it may be or how how atypical it may seem, is worth it, and I hope my experience helps illuminate that!
COVER PHOTO: Pinterest