I always had drama with girls, was kind of a tomboy at heart, and a bit of an outcast from moving schools when I was a kid. My mom was in a sorority when she was in college, and I could tell she really wanted me to at least go through recruitment. So I did. I didn’t make it through Fall recruitment, I think the physical resistance to entering a house of screaming clapping blondes in my face was my utter downfall in getting placed that semester. The girl behind me in line had to nudge me into the first house I visited.
I waited to go through recruitment until the spring.
I’m glad I did. I met some really great people I would have never met, I got my grades in a good place, I had a semester under my belt learning the land and the reputations of the sororities on campus. The University of Louisville has a pretty small Greek system for women—there were only six houses. It didn’t take me long to stereotype these housed based on the stories I heard, the things I saw myself, and what my friends thought. I knew who was cool; who all the fraternities loved; who had the most drama; who everyone secretly made fun of. I knew everything going into spring recruitment.
Spring recruitment was so much different than I expected.
It was laid back, usually somewhere other than the sorority house, and consisted of a small group vs. the whole sorority house… singing… in your face. I was invited by Sigma Kappa and Delta Zeta – I had already made up my mind where I was going to go. The parties came and went, I enjoyed my time at both get-togethers. And then I found myself not knowing. I was running out of time and I had to pick. Though I thought I had it figured out, I knew deep down what the right thing was to do. That was the first time I really made a decision for myself. Not for my image, not for my popularity, but for what I really knew was right for me.
I joined the Alpha Theta Chapter of Sigma Kappa at the University of Louisville in spring 2007.
I liked the members. They were interesting, and fun, and sweet, and I felt completely myself with them. I held fun positions in the sorority, like step chair, t-shirt chair, and Greek Sing chair, never expressing an interest in a real leadership role. My junior year, an advisor changed my course forever.
I’ll never forget that night. We were sitting in her car in the parking lot of my dorm complex and she told me that I should run for chapter president. I laughed like it was a joke, but it wasn’t. There were national rules in place that made this impossible for me, but she believed I could petition them. She believed in me in a way I didn’t believe in myself. And in the end, those girls believed in me in a way I didn’t believe in myself. Being president of that chapter is one of the proudest accomplishments of my life.
Then I disappeared.
After graduation, I tried really hard to separate myself from the organization. I was asked to be a leadership consultant, I was asked to come back to help with recruitment, and Greek Sing… and I didn’t want that. I didn’t want to be the girl who never moved on. I found new friendship in my professional circle, I went through countless fall-outs with sisters I had grown far from, I started a new relationship and I moved on. The only tie I had was my roommate. Upon graduation, a sister and I moved in together and shared our toughest adult years together in a tiny two-bedroom apartment that looked like our dorms. And through many friends, and many phases, she is still one of my very best friends. I lost a lot along the way, but we held on.
She was always more excited than me.
She quickly became an advisor at a neighboring chapter. She always volunteered for the chapter after graduation. She really made me look bad. This past summer, she became the recruitment advisor for our chapter – 10 years later. She asked me to come by Work Week to talk to the girls, and I agreed without hesitation, anything for her.
And let me tell me, I’m so glad she asked me. I’m starting to think she did it for me this whole time. That night, surrounded by college girls I didn’t even know, hearing songs I hadn’t heard in half a decade, sitting on the floor inside that house… I was reminded. I was reminded in the sweetest, softest way that this organization is not just a part of who I am, it’s a part of who I have became. I was still a kid when I came to college. Not because I was 18, but because I cared what everyone thought about me. I wanted to be cool. I wanted to be popular. I had no experience with developing my own integrity or responsibility. This organization set the tone for the type of person I am today.
I’m glad I went back after all these years. I’m glad I still have Kenzie in my life. I’m glad my advisor pushed me outside of my comfort zone. I’m glad I chose Sigma Kappa. I’m glad.
And to think, I was never the sorority type.
Guest post contributed by Kara DeLost, former Alpha Theta, University of Louisville, chapter president