I just told you about my baby UDress – the magazine I started from scratch; my triumphant college legacy! But was I always that leading, powerful, publisher-editrix dubbed the Anna Wintour of Delaware? Not a shot in hell. There was a whole very different college chapter that came before. The Sorority chapter, AKA a very nice dose of fuel in the fire…..……..
As an embryonic addition to the student body at the University of Delaware, my first semester freshman year lead me to know one thing for sure: I couldn’t WAIT to be in a sorority.
The ultimate college dream! The matching t-shirts and hair bows, the talent competitions and frat parties, the sisterhood meetings and the date nights, the mysteriously enticing embarrassments of pledging, the automatic older friends and instant new BFFs, the leadership opportunities—I wanted Greek life, and I wanted it all.
Second semester rolled around and my brand new, super-Jewish clique of friends and I braced ourselves for the ONLY thing that mattered: the big Sorority Rush. We pored over outfits, shopped for materials to craft the perfect name tags to embody our personalities, continually reviewed the unspoken politics and rules of rushing passed down from wise older siblings, and swore to each other that no matter what sorority we each ended up in, we’d all stay best friends forever.
That is, unless you ended up in Delta Gamma, Kappa Alpha Theta, Alpha Xi Delta or Alpha Sigma Alpha. I mean, how embarrassing would that be?
We spent our evenings getting trained and prepped by our rush counselors, ripening for the most pivotal two weeks of our college careers. During those two weeks, my friends were all incredibly nervous. One of the unspoken rules of rush is: Do NOT go to the bar. You do not want to bump into the girls you met earlier that day. God forbid you accidentally strike up a conversation with an AEPhi girl over Midori Sours at Ground Floor! Unless you are a 100% shoe-in for a sorority (i.e.: you have an older sister), you should not show your face in any drinking establishment throughout the duration of rush. In fact, you probably shouldn’t even look at a sorority girl in class if you can help it. Keep your head down and RESPECT, frosh.
Well, I thought these rules were rather stupid. Politics, shmolitics. Thursday night came and I was thirsty. I had a few “shoe-in” friends going to the bar that night, and my friend Toby who was flunking a class (and thus not allowed to rush) was sleeping with the bartender at Ground Floor. THIS, my friends, was a night to go out.
I laughed at the thought of cowering in a dorm room with Sex & The City Season Five, wearing Juicy sweatpants and eating tubs of frozen yogurt — not that this wasn’t a lovely activity, but I’d never do that to “hide” from big bad sorority girls. Please, I was looking for people who like me for ME! The thought of going out and being friendly with people just like I did last Thursday night actually hindering my social life – this idea was absurd to me.
I obviously don’t remember much of what happened that night at Ground Floor. There were a lot of free Midori Sours.
Rush was a ridiculous nightmare, but I reveled in it. I enjoy ridiculousness of all varieties! We spent hours and hours sitting around on the floor in our rush groups, and when our big moments came, we’d be lined up and spilled into a rooms bursting with chapter pep.
Handshakes, big smiles, yappy yap yap! Read a fortune, watch a skit, clapppy clap clap! Introduce yourself for the 43d time, yay HI I’m Michelle! I found it fairly un-stressful and overall amusing to talk to people. I like people. Sure, they were openly judging my every word and motion and strand of hair, but it was just talking. I’m clearly the fun, bubbly, creative, party-rocking, sweetheart blonde that EVERY sorority would be lucky to have! No sweat!
There came a point when I started to sweat.
Round one of drops: I was dropped from my two favorite sororities – AND – to add salt to the wound, from two of the sororities I would have never even wanted.
WTF. A pit formed in my stomach. How could this have happened!? There must be a mistake. I was certain I’d get to CHOOSE my destiny, not have it eliminated down for me. I became completely self-conscious. Did I talk too much? Did I say something stupid? Did I make one of my elusive bitchy faces? Am I awkward? Or… was that one night out at Ground Floor really a deal-breaker?
Well, there was also that OTHER unspoken rush rule I accidentally broke: Thou shalt never talk about boys. Unfortunately for me, the weekend rush began, my romantic life had reached an all time high. I had a cute new boyfriend. He was in a frat and he adored me, and I accidentally might have let some of this toxic information leak out during one of my rush bonding sessions. How adorable… he asked me out at King of Prussia Mall and gave me a bracelet to mark the occasion!! Whooooooopsie.
Yup, I’m horrible at politics.
Rush continued. The last round of elimination came, and it got even worse. I was dropped again with gusto – I was down to only ONE sorority. ΦMG. This made no sense at all. Tears flowed down my face as I slipped into a state of humiliation and extreme self-doubt. I reasoned that there could be only one reason this was happening: The one sorority I had left, Alpha Phi, was my destiny. Popped collars, pink and green hair ribbons, Vineyard Vines and Vera Bradley – the Greek Gods had surely directed me exactly here for a reason! Yes, I could see it!
Bid Day came, and I had on my preppiest pink Lacoste and contrasting green ribbons. Yes, this was totally me. I’d live in the house next year and I’d buy lots of fabric whale belts. I’d highlight my hair even blonder. I’d get invited to a fancy summer home in Cape Cod next August.
Minutes before walking out the door to receive my bid and meet my new Alpha Phi pledge sisters/BFFs, I got a phone call. It was my rush counselor.
“Michelle, I have some news. You were dropped from Alpha Phi.”
My heart stopped beating. I did not get into a sorority.
“WHAT!?” I bellowed. “This cannot be true!!” I bargained through hysterics. “Who can I talk to about this?” Try as I might have, there was no twisting and talking my way out of it – the deal was done. I was not wanted. I cried and I cried and I cried.
As all my friends had their rooms showered in candy, balloons, confetti and Greek letters during the coming weeks, a shameful, pitiful, lost little Michelle went on to figure out how to create a new college life from scratch.
Fast forward one year. I had survived. My freshman year clique had dissolved (well, mostly, I dissolved from it), and my new friends were scattered throughout random sororities and groups of friends. I had the support of a wonderful boyfriend and I had HIS greek life events to keep me busy, which honestly probably saved me. Thanks to some very convincing sorority friends and one particular older girl who wanted to be my big, I worked up the courage to do the unthinkable: I rushed again Sophomore year.
Putting my ego aside, I went through the entire process again, starting with the application. I had a renewed sense of enthusiasm as I glued tiny sunglasses and real jewelry to my new name tag; I had just switched my major from Early Childhood Education to the fun new Fashion Merchandising! This was MY journey, I reassured myself – NOW is the right time for sorority life. I wanted it, and I deserved it.
Let me save you painful rush recounting and cut to the chase: I was rejected from every single sorority I wanted. AGAIN.
I cried and I cried and I cried.
Greek life had sizzled me to a crisp. I was not welcome. It hurt and it angered me. It confused my very soul – who would become my college family? Would I ever find one? Who am I if not the absolute perfect sorority sister?
I wish I could go back to hug and kiss my young sobbing, sorority-sucker self and tell her this: “Sweet little Michelle, you will one day thank your lucky stars this happened to you. You do NOT fit in, and that is the best part of all. You do not need these girls, but rather, many of them need you. You are about to change this university – and the course of your life – in ways you never could have dreamed. You, silly girl, haven’t even scratched the surface.”
“And by the way,” I’d add, “You should be embarrassed for wanting to wear matching t-shirts and whale belts.”