Thursday, September 4, 2014

Why I Went Greek {Ali}


Ever since I found out what a sorority was, I wanted to join one.

My love for all things Greek started in about 2001, when I was first introduced to a character named Elle Woods.  She was smart, beautiful, sassy, and looked smashing while wearing pink.  Then in 2002, my love was confirmed when I watched the show "Sorority Life" on MTV.  Does anyone remember that show?  It completely intrigued me.  What was being in a sorority all about?  Who were these people, and more importantly-- what sorority were they in?!  It boggled my mind that the Greek letters were blurred out during the entire show, and I Googled relentlessly until I could find out which organization this show was all about.  There was so much drama, there were so many twists, and I spent so many hours glued to the screen.

But that was the movies.  That was made for TV.

As I left high school, I chose to stay in-state and attend Arizona State University.  The campus looked beautiful, there were many great shops and restaurants nearby, and Mom wasn't too far of a drive either when I wanted a home-cooked meal.  Plus they had an excellent Journalism & Communication program, so I was sold.  Even though I stayed in-state, a funny thing happened... NONE of my friends from high school chose to go to ASU.  They all either chose the rival college in Arizona, or to go out of state.  Big gulp... I was a lone ranger.  I was on my own to find a new circle of friends.  There was no question; I was going through sorority recruitment.  I signed up, and went shopping for outfits to wear to recruitment immediately.

Once Bid Day rolled around, I had lunch with my Mom by campus just before the big event.  As I sat there talking to her about my experience over the past weekend, I started crying.  I fell in love with the chapter I wanted to be in, and the connections I made meant so much to me... I cried just thinking about it.  The women in this chapter were ones that I identified with, looked up to, and were in alignment with my values.  Tears of happiness, I found my home.  And a few hours later, I found out that my wish came true.

As my first few years of college flew by, I was swept away in Greek pride.  I was so proud, that I painted our sorority name in neon pink spray paint on the wall of the spare bedroom where 3 of my sisters and I lived together.  Oh, and my car had a 3 foot wide decal on the back window too (in pink, with hearts).  I got involved.  I held positions, and they forced me to take action to improve my leadership skills... and get out of my comfort zone.  As one who liked to do things typically all on their own, I learned how to delegate and trust in my sisters to help me get the job done while I was recruitment chair.  One late night while living in the house, I bonded with a new friend in my pledge class.  We laughed, we cried, and we were inseparable from that day forward.  I was there the night she met her future husband at a fraternity house.  And, she stood beside me as my Matron of Honor at my wedding 3 months ago.

And then there was that one time I got in trouble... oh boy.  Now I could leave this story out, but I'm keeping it real... this humbling event was key to my experience.  While I thought I was having an innocent party one night, it didn't exactly play out that way when I got called in the following week.  Some of the new members were at the party, and our advisors weren't too happy with me.  I was so upset with myself, I cried for days.  But you know what?  It taught me a lesson.  I learned how to better look out for my friends, my chapter... my sisters.  How, you might ask?  Because it was up to people like me to ensure the chapter I loved stayed that way; it's the older members' responsibility to guide the new members in the right direction.  Sure, we had fun.  But sisterhood to me wasn't about a party.  Often times, it was the nights hanging out on the couch that meant the most.  Suddenly, I saw the bigger picture & a lightbulb went off... it all made sense.  Once things calmed down, I realized that my sisters cared enough about me to call me out when I was doing something wrong.  I respected them for doing that.  That's exactly what happens while you're in your early 20's; you grow up.  Now I'm not suggesting to go out there and be reckless, but it's ok to make mistakes too.  Being Greek holds you accountable, and reminds you to respect the values that made you fall in love with your chapter in the first place.  Thank goodness I had my sisters by my side to experience the growing pains together.  Those 4 years wouldn't have been close to the same without them, and I can't imagine it happening any other way.  And as I continue to grow for the rest of my life, I know that they'll be right there with me for the ride.

Today, the pride I take in being Greek has taken on a new meaning... beyond any massive sticker I could place on the back of my car window.  I can say with my whole heart that choosing to go Greek is one of the most important decisions I've made in my life.  I met my bridesmaids, it challenged me as a person (and made me a better one), and I've built a career for myself out of something that I hold so dear to my heart.  It taught me to be a better friend, a better leader, and a better woman.  I even attribute my decision of going Greek to meeting my husband; if it wasn't for the people I met in my sorority, I might not have ever met him.  After graduation, being Greek takes on a whole new meaning... when you meet another woman who is also a Greek alum, it's instant common ground (same organization as you or not, it doesn't matter).  I'm fortunate that I get to stay connected to Greek life through both The Sorority Secrets, and through my company 224 Apparel as well.  Even after I've graduated, I'm able to give back to something that has given so much to me... and it gives me true joy.  I believe in sorority women.  They are among the most powerful, influential, and caring people I know.  It's an honor to be a part of such an organization, and part of a legacy of remarkable women.  I'll be forever proud to be a Greek woman, and grateful for my decision to Go Greek.

{P.S.} no TV show can capture the magic of what it's really like.  Not even close :)

Xoxo,
Ali

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