Recovering From Sorority Life

It’s been way too long since I’ve written for myself. Blogging slipped down my priority list as work got in the way, and then school got in the way, and then life got in the way of all of it. But I’ve recently undergone some serious dental surgery, and now I’m bedridden with chipmunk cheeks and tons of medicine that makes me a little loopy, and all of a sudden, I got my writing bug back.

In between some major drug-induced naps today, I came across an article that a lot of my sorority friends have been sharing. It’s all about what being in a sorority is really like, and how great it will be forever and ever, and not just for your collegiate years. I think the timing of this article is serendipitous, because I’ve been thinking a lot about my time in Delta Gamma lately.

Yes, I made friends that have been there for me in many a difficult time. Hopefully some of them will stay there even after reading this post.

Yes, I have learned leadership skills that cannot be duplicated anywhere else outside of a real career.

Yes, I have had a great time in college. I came out of my high school shell, and became a social butterfly. I went to fun events and learned how to shotgun a beer and how to talk to complete strangers. 

But, lately, the negative effects of my sorority have been weighing heavily on my mind. I feel like the prodigal son, standing outside of this wonderful, happy bubble of sisterhood and secrets and late night cry fests, and I just feel so jaded. I feel I was prepared for the good of being in a sorority. But nobody ever prepared me for the bad. As I’ve grown up, I’ve grown away from being Greek.

I was that girl. I went to every event, every chapter, did every study hour, every friendship building activity. I loved DG more than anything, and probably more than anyone else loved it either. Suddenly, I woke up one day and I didn’t recognize who I was. I was mean to women in other sororities, I felt ugly all the time, and I wasn’t true to myself.

And so, I’m coming clean. I’m coming clean to myself, and to the women that I was unkind to, and to my future daughter. Because everyone always tells you about the socials, and the beach days, and the happy times. But nobody ever tells you how it changes you fundamentally, how you become unrecognizable to yourself.

This is the ugly side of my time in a sorority:

  1. I became fixated on my own looks.
    I would do my hair to go to the library, terrified to look ugly and give my sorority a bad name.
    I became obsessed with looking a certain way, to the point that if I was having a bad hair day, or if I couldn’t find the right shoes to go with that outfit, I wouldn’t go to campus.
  2. I learned to judge others for their looks.
    When you join a sorority, you learn the nice way to say “don’t look ugly.” You tell girls that “if you care about yourself, it’ll show.” Or “It doesn’t take much to put on jeans and a top instead of gym clothes.”
    My personal favorite to use was “Dress for your body type.”
    To any woman out there that I ever cut down or was made to feel less than because of these asinine lines, I am deeply, deeply sorry. Fat shaming in sororities is alive and well, and it’s nonsense like this that feeds it, and makes us either feel superior or horrible.
  3. I skipped classes to attend functions/craft.
  4. I felt superior to non-Greeks.
    Something I’ve learned a little too late: you are superior to no one. At 18, 19, 20 years old, we are all equal, and some of us know that. Others like myself are too full of ourselves to know that.
  5. I wore things that made me feel uncomfortable.
    Have you ever walked across campus in too-tight jeans and heels because it was the week before rush, and you had to impress new girls? It’s not a good experience at all, and it makes you feel pretty fake.
  6. I let men decide my worth.
    When the Total Frat Move era began in my life, I suddenly found myself constantly trying to live up to what fraternity men boys thought I should be. I baked for them, I dressed up for them, I took them soup when they were sick, I went to stupid intramural events with stupid signs for them. And nothing came out of it. I didn’t feel fulfilled. I felt desperate and empty. Mind you, this wasn’t a hunt for a boyfriend. I had a boyfriend at this time (a story for another day). This was about being a sweetheart, and impressing his fraternity brothers. I wanted so badly to be accepted by a group of men. Why? Years later, none of them are by my side when I’m having a bad day. None of them call to chat. I based my worth on their opinion of me, and that becomes a slippery slope that will never leave you feeling satisfied or equal.
  7. I allowed myself to become shallow, and I used certain terms to justify it.
    See number 2.
  8. My world shrank. 
    I didn’t join any other clubs. I didn’t play on a non-Greek intramural team. I didn’t make non-Greek friends. I usually didn’t make non-Delta Gamma friends.
  9. I broke rules and lost respect.
    I went to a fraternity event when I knew I wasn’t supposed to, because I felt entitled. Another reason basing my worth on men screwed up my priorities. How stupid.
  10. I gossiped.
    To the many women I talked poorly about, I am so so very sorry. I want you all to know that that is not a reflection of who I am anymore, and nobody should ever have to worry about what their sisters say about them when they aren’t around.
  11. I loved hearing my own voice.
    I spoke a lot during chapter because I loved DG the most, I was the smartest, and I knew what was best. Mostly I was just full of myself.
  12. I used others’ lives to judge my own success.
    I am not rich. My parents are not rich. I will probably never drive a Lexus or afford ten pairs of Jack Rogers and a wardrobe full of Lilly Pulitzer. But I knew girls who did, and I felt bad about myself because of it. Between the material things I didn’t have and my looks, I cannot begin to tell you how absolutely awful I felt about myself every single day.
  13. I acted dumb to appeal to a certain type of girl.
    To get dumb, pretty girls to rush DG, I would act dumb to attract them to my sorority. When I really wanted to talk about current events and volunteering and our families, they wanted to talk about frat parties and formal dresses and how lame their classes were. So I did.
  14. I acted dumb to appeal to a certain type of man.
    I thought frat boys wanted silly, crazy girls who did dumb things just because. So that’s who I became.
  15. I spent my money in unwise ways.
    It makes me sick now. I spent hundreds of dollars on material for skirts for a homecoming dance routine. Hundreds of dollars on my paddle. Hundreds on baking supplies for fraternities.
  16. I drank more alcohol than I was sometimes comfortable with.
  17. I felt self-conscious eating in public.
    This is one of those things I look back on now, as I’m sitting on campus wearing an old DG t-shirt, chowing down on peanut butter m&m’s and a cheeseburger from the Boathouse, and I get so angry at myself. I used to starve myself while on campus in the public eye, so that the “fat sorority” wouldn’t maintain that reputation. I AM A HUMAN BEING, and I require food. If I want to eat a doughnut while wearing huge double-stitch DG letters across my chest, it’s OKAY. More than okay.
  18. I restricted what I did in public for fear of “tarnishing DG’s image.”
    Like eat doughnuts on campus in my letters.
  19. I was ashamed of my car.
    I bought my very first car by myself, with $1000 cash, and I was god damned proud of it. I never dreamed I’d be able to afford a working car, so when I was able to, I felt so wonderful and independent! But then, I made the mistake of putting my letters on my piece of crap car, and all of a sudden, I felt ashamed of it all the time. I lost perspective, and judged myself because there were sorority girls driving Range Rovers.
  20. I was ashamed of my past.
    I come from a poor household. I come from a trailer in Middleburg, and I always felt like I didn’t belong.
  21. I judged men in unfair ways.
    “Fraternity gentlemen” are supposed to be rich and confident, but still nice and “Southern gentlemen.” This is bull. Men do not fit a stereotype, just like women don’t. They are all different, and I was very unfair when I judged them by what they looked like or acted like.
  22. I stifled my political and religious beliefs because they aren’t popular with the Greek community. 
    I am a liberal, atheist Democrat. I do not care that being Republican is “cool” or “fratty,” and I cannot tolerate Bible studies when I don’t believe in God. But I was so uncomfortable with myself and who I really was, and I was scared my sisters wouldn’t accept me. And some of them haven’t. And that’s okay, because I accept myself.

This isn’t meant to be sorority slamming. I will never take for granted the friendships and memories I made as a Delta Gamma.

This also does not represent anyone else’s journey but mine. I’d say a majority of people in fraternities and sororities have 100% positive experiences. I am in the minority of jaded sorority girls, who were promised a lot and received not enough.

I’m more happy now than I have ever been. I am comfortable and independent and nice again.
I’m just standing on the outside of the happy sorority bubble, offering a different point of view, and a different kind of happy ending.

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4 thoughts on “Recovering From Sorority Life

    • I love you because… YOU WROTE IN YOUR BLOG AGAIN. I missed reading The 30 Percent.
      I love you because… I knew you before after and during your sorority experience, and you have grown into such a strong beautiful woman, maybe because of these experiences.
      I love you because… Even if we do have different views, it’s never held our friendship back in any way.
      I love you because… Sorority life is not what has kept us in contact, our friendship has!

      I LOVE YOU CHIPMUNK CHEEKS.

      P.S. I really truly love that picture of you, and I was always jealous of your DG looks whether you hated them or not.

      P.S.S. It’s also very cool that at 22 years old, we (including myself) can already look back at mistakes we’ve made and learn from them.

      Thanks for the good read Angela!

  1. Sorority life gave me friends. Best friends and I am very grateful for that! But I hated every other aspect, most of which you pointed out. I hated it so much that after the first year and a half i was bidding my time. I’ve spent the past few years apologizing to some of the younger girls in our chapter who’ve said to me “you were such a bitch to us” and i was, not b/c I thought you should dress better or be more social but b/c i thought you were all stupid to waste your time on the parade called Greek life. I had no respect for the system or the women in it. I judged too harshly, especially b/c some of my close friends are the Jack Rogers wearing, fraternity obsessed, wealthy, republican sorority girls. It takes all of us to make the world go round and it takes women like you sharing your story to change those negative aspects of sorority life. ❤

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