I was an active member in a sorority.
Honestly, I cant believe it either. What’s even more shocking is I’m sharing my experience rather than taking my little secret to my grave as I initially intended. But before I delve in offer an explanation to those of you who are still recovering from shock, let me explain how it all started.
My college journey has been unconventional at best. However, it started like many other college stories begin. The year was 2009. I was a freshman at University of Central Florida, fresh out of high school, and ready to experience all things college. I packed all my belongings and borrowed stories from my friends, moved to Orlando, and set out to have the perfect college experience. My first weekend in O-Town, I arranged my room and perched each handmade picture frame of my best high school friends just above my bed. I met my roommates and bonded over our shared nerves and quesadillas. I scouted the campus and determined which building my first class was in (to avoid my worst nightmare; arriving late for class on the first day). I loaded my student card with the $400 I had saved from my summer job and bought a UCF keychain at the school bookstore just to make sure it worked. I checked everything off my list; I was ready for college.
Now what everyone neglected to prepare me for was how lonely college can be the first couple of months. My transition from being a seasoned high school senior to a novice college freshman stretching my newly found freedom was intimidating. So, by the gentle nudging of one of my friends from high school, I decided to pledge a sorority; more specifically, a Christian sorority.
As soon as I decided to take the plunge, and also resign myself to being the only token black girl in every picture, my social life blossomed. That first semester, life revolved around rush week, chapter meetings, service projects, pledge meetings, and other soror related events. Our pledge class became quickly obsessed with the three greek letters that represented our squad and splurged on any and every monogrammed good we could find. This shopping addiction was only encouraged by our elder sisters and perpetuated by the cute handbags we would see other sororities parade around campus. It was almost silly. There was some drama, though I never found myself in the middle of it. There was quite a bit of crying and a lot of late night movies with sweet treats. Social events included tailgating with our brother fraternity, mixers, and formals. We celebrated each sister that got engaged or married during meetings and participated in a pledge ceremony that can only have looked like a seance to those peeking through the chapel windows. But no matter superficial it may have seemed to everyone on the outside, it became the place where my dearest friends and I found belonging.
Life as a sister to dozens of girls I had not even known a year before, pushed me to lean into my friendships; I like to say they helped me grow feelings. Prior to sorority life, I kept all relationships at an arms length distance, even my “close” friends. Crying in the presence of anyone other than my immediate family was nonexistent. Those girls, from my closest friends to the acquaintances I called “sister”, taught me the strength in vulnerability and the safety of relationship. As much as I am hesitant to share I that I belong to a sorority because of the stigma attached to it, I cannot deny that it was exactly what I needed at exactly the right time.
To this day I keep in touch with my sisters whether it be face to face or via social media stalking. Their pictures now tell the story of their lives beyond the sorority; they have little humans of their own, new last names that are difficult to pronounce, they have moved across the globe, and their college boyfriends have new titles (some are ex’s, some are husbands). And in those moments, I remember the giddy naiveté of young college girls admiring our new lavaliers and how those moments birthed the deep long lasting connection. I guess what I’m saying is, it was all worth it.