Home.

It’s taken me a year but I think I’m finally understanding why I stayed in my sorority. Like most things, the benefits of a decision don’t usually reveal themselves until the end. Since I’m at the halfway point – I go alum in Spring- I’ve been weirdly sentimental lately. All this talk at recruitment practice has reminded me of the way I felt before I joined. It reminded me of all the reasons I was seeking strong female bonds.

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People will say that it’s all fake and that we’re paying for friendships. On some level, there’s truth to that. But I guess it’s kind of like being in college and then paying to go to an all girl’s school at the same time. There are events, sports, uniforms, rules, bitchy people, drama. But there’s also a deep understanding that everyone is there for the same reason: to be a part of something. Even if that something doesn’t really mean that much in the grand scheme of things, embracing the present is no less valuable than working towards something bigger.

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My sorority has taught me what I stand for, who I am. Most of the time, I feel like I only discover these things when I’m being pulled against my core beliefs. I’ve learned that I am kinder than I thought. I only saw this when people weren’t kind to me. I have learned that I am trustworthy and a pretty damn good secret-keeper. I saw this when people talked shit, or revealed things about themselves. I didn’t reciprocate. I learned that I am capable of being overwhelmed by other peoples’ emotions. I learned this when I became consumed by negativity because of the chatter of complaints around me. I learned that I have more courage than most people. I’ve only ever witnessed this in terms of male relationships and once I saw this in a group setting, I realized I do speak up for what I believe in. I learned that I won’t speak up when it’s something petty and will be sorted by someone else. I learned that I naturally delegate tasks through subtle suggestion, not coercion. I learned that I do not naturally give trust easily. I knew this before, but even after a year of being surrounded by these women, I am only just beginning to feel like I can let go of some of my defenses.

Let-Go

I needed to write this so that one day when I look back and think, ‘damn that was a waste of time’ or ‘thank god it’s over’, I will also remember all the good stuff that came out of it. I am no longer afraid of women. I am no longer afraid to paint. I am worthy of meaningful relationships and I am worthy because I have witnessed those who I deem unfit, receive the gift of friendship even when they shouldn’t. I am no better and no worse.

The human condition dictates that humans crave comfort and love. The fear of being alone is so strong, we work to find peace so that we don’t have to feel that way. I know these are random thoughts, but I can feel time slipping by so quickly and I’m a senior this year and totally terrified of graduation so I can say without a doubt, I made the right choice. I picked the right house. I found my home.

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I traded cigarettes for friends

Last weekend I discovered a major dissatisfaction within my life: the inability to understand women both globally and individually. I’ve been missing out on a fundamental aspect of most girls’ lives. Growing up, my mother did not have any healthy relationships with women. I’m beginning to understand that even the few girlfriends she did have did not like her very much.

I’ve always felt like there was something missing in my life. I’ve tried filling the hole with a ton of different solutions and while they may work out temporarily, often times they fail and leave me with even more confusing questions than when I began.

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I’ve been going through this sort of reinvention phase of my life. I ended a failed relationship with my ex-boyfriend, moved into my own apartment, went pescatarian, quit smoking (finally!), changed my wardrobe, deleted all my social media (I’m back on it now), and really took stock of what my life contained. When classes started I knew I needed to join something, some sort of club or sports team or anything really that would get me involved with a bunch of people who enjoyed the same things I did. Only problem: I have a broken toe (the most annoying injury ever that’s likely going to take about 6 months to heal) and a torn rotator cuff. Suffice to say, my dreams of sports and activities were put on the back burner right around the same time I officially started classes at my new, four year university. Goodbye community college, hello student loans! Except, here I was completely stranded and totally alone. Although I wasn’t far from home, I wanted to taste that independence I’d dreamt about.

I think I called a few people crying during my latest meltdown. I spent the days questioning my decisions, terrified of the idea of failure and total loneliness. In the back of my mind I think I knew it would get better but it kind of felt like everything was falling down and all the hopes I’d prepared were doomed from the get go.

Part of my list of activities I’d wanted to investigate were the campus sororities. My brother was in a fraternity and loved it. The morning after my meltdown I figured, fuck it, why not just see what it was all about. I did the online training (anti hazing, anti drugs/drinking information), paid the $60 and headed off to the info seminar Friday afternoon. I think by the end of the info session I was pretty much sold. I saw how all the girls on the council flowed together.

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The most intriguing part was by far the organization itself. As I came to discover over the recruitment weekend, there were so many traditions, rituals, and rules set down to make the experience as unbiased as possible. I had no idea what any of the house reputations were, what the rumors were, anything. I just knew the women in lines around me. For those few days of uncertainty, before we received our bids and decided our chapters, we all timidly decided to be friendly to one another. We marveled at the decorations and each other’s outfits. We discussed make up and shoes and our nerves whenever we heard the clapping and chanting coming from behind the closed party doors. We lined up in alphabetical order and speculated what the reasons for it were. Come to find, the recruitment process had been so detail oriented, the chapters researched us in depth before we even entered the room. Our online applications had been thoroughly examined and pairs pre-made.

The first day I left and walked home, I felt so insanely connected with the mass of women I’d spent the previous hours with. I knew that I didn’t like all of them and yet it didn’t really matter because we were all experiencing similar thoughts and feelings. We all wanted the same thing: a place to belong, a home.

We weren’t allowed to talk to one another as all 400 of us waited in line to put our final bids into the computers; but we did. We weren’t allowed to call our parents and ask their opinions; but we did. We weren’t supposed to check our facebooks or anything; but we did. And we all rolled our eyes when we got yelled at and we all laughed when the group leaders walked away. We stood nervously, anticipating the end of the weekend and the ensuing festivities. 

When I walked to get my bid the next day, I forced myself to wait an hour before getting my final answer. I cried when I opened up my manila envelope. I cried when I ran down the aisle of screaming students, hoping I didn’t face plant. I cried as I hugged everyone. 

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Growing into myself

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    I’ve realized today how much my family loves me. I used to think of myself as the black sheep of the household but now I don’t really think I believe that. It’s funny that it took a screaming battle between us to make me see it. To be honest, it’s not just about my family loving me that makes me happy. Part of me hates to say it but I know I need them to need me. And really I’m not very happy at the moment considering we just went through a huge shouting match which ended with me in tears and my sister traipsing off defiantly. She’s so young but she can be so callous sometimes. And I know it’s the age but I really wish there was a way to step outside yourself and watch the way you appear and sound to people. When I was younger I thought the only way to be okay was to be around people all the time. I wanted to be surrounded by a huge family that never really let me sleep or be by myself like all those movies with half a dozen kids running around the house, throwing things and demanding food all the time.

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I think what I’ve got is big enough. I’ve got my cousins, brothers, neighbors, and friends in and out of the house so much that I really couldn’t handle much more than that. Now that I’ve gotten older and learned to enjoy my private time, there are moments where the thought of hanging out with anyone but myself makes me a little crazy. But after this showdown, I’m torn. I want to be by myself but I also just want everything to be back to fine and sit on my couch and watch Greys Anatomy with my sister. I was talking and my dad didn’t hear me and my sister didn’t hear me and I thought I was done and I was going to move out but really I don’t want to do that. I don’t want to be on my own yet. I want to embrace my youth for as long as is respectable. I want to chase my dreams. I don’t want to chase phone bills and grocery lists and electricity bills like I would have to do if I lived on my own. I’m not ready to sacrifice yet. Because I need people. I need my family. I need to know they love me and want me around. But it’s hard when my dad tells me I should move out and my sister shuts down when I try to talk to her. I know it’s all going to be fine tomorrow and everything works out as it should but it was still bittersweet when they both texted me telling me to come home and rewind. Because I’m starting to feel my roots growing bigger than the ground I’m planted in. And I feel like it’s almost time to start a new chapter. But the thought of leaving home scares the crap out of me. And I’m transferring out of the state soon and I’d really like it if I did’t move out before then because I know I will look back on this time somewhere down the line and think back to when I was surrounded by the people who raised me and knew me best. And one day my dad will be gone and my sister will have a family and there will only be a few holidays a year where we get together.

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