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I’m going to put this out there now: a year ago, I would have rather dropped out of college than have joined a sorority.

Yeah, I was that strongly against it; the reputation that Greek organizations had garnered over the years, fueled by my ultra-feminist views against the non-feminist media scandals I had seen, had really turned me off from the whole thing. I had a very specific picture of sororities (preppy, peppy, obnoxious) and sorority girls (shallow, blonde) and I didn’t find myself fitting into this world at all. Was I being unfairly, wrongly judgemental of institutions I really knew nothing about? Yes. But was I confident in my perceptions of them? Yes, very.

But – here I am, a year later, officially a new member of the Zeta Omicron chapter of Alpha Phi. So what changed?

Sororities here operate uniquely. Yes, they still abide by the same international rules and codes of conducts as other chapters do across the world, but something perceptible was different – when I met “sorority girls,” I encountered women who were smart, caring, accomplished, and empowered. They built one another up and helped one another with work, internships, makeup – whatever was needed, really. I detected no measure of cattiness or shallowness, both things I was sure practically accompanied any bid. Instead, I found positive community after positive community of lovely women.

Rush itself was a very tiring process. This year’s process took place over three days, in which we had five-hour long events where we met girls from each of the 5 Panhellenic sororities, eventually narrowing our preferred sororities down to two. Three days of intensive socializing, combined with a regular work-load, made me into essentially a walking zombie. After each event I would collapse onto whatever surface I could, absolutely exhausted. However, I was also somewhat buzzing from all the conversations I had had and the people I had just met. I had conversations about everything, from the more generic things like my major and hometown to stories about arson, Iceland, and the best way to get stains out of shoes. As tiring as it was, rush was a great way to not only bond with the other freshman who rushed with me but also to meet a ton of older girls I would not have ever encountered.

Now that I have pledged a sorority and begun the initiation process, I can’t help but feel a sense of deep contentment. I still have my doubts and worries about what sorority life entails, as well as the usual thoughts of, “Do I actually fit in here?” But the more I meet the people in my sorority, the more I can feel myself growing comfortable. No matter where you may find it, having a group of wonderful people united behind you makes you feel stronger and happier. I have no idea what the rest of the semester will bring, and I’ve heard it’s a lot, but I’m very excited to continue to expose myself to experiences that I would have never imagined myself doing and people I would have never imagined myself meeting. I think the most important thing to keep in mind about sororities is this: keep an open mind. Rushing really isn’t for everybody, so if your gut tells you that it isn’t for you than that’s totally fine, too. But I would wait to make that decision; let yourself become educated about the system, maybe meet a few girls, and then decide. Because, who knows? You may find yourself stumbling into something wonderful.