The Sisterhood Struggle: I Joined A Sorority, But I Don’t Belong
When I got to college in 2007, I had a list of things that I knew I wanted to complete before I graduated. I wanted to be active on my campus, and I was. I was a sprinter for the girls’ track and field team and worked my way up to vice president of the Black student union my senior year. I was involved all right, but I was missing one thing that meant a lot to me, and that was inclusion into a Greek-letter organization. A sorority. I thought that it would complete my college experience, to be able to take part in sorority life on a very diverse campus. I wanted in for the sisterhood, the community service, as well as the promise of great networking opportunities.
I knew a lot about Black Greek-letter organizations by the time I started college, but I didn’t know that Greek life was so much broader than just Black Greeks: I discovered fraternities and sororities that were Latina based; ones that were culturally based; some that were ‘historically white”; some in the form of honor societies; some alternative ones that focused on LGBT life; and even some faith-based organizations. I remember wondering how one figured out which one is the right fit when there are so many options, so I started doing lots of research on the ones that did interest me. I also started attending informational sessions and meetings to interact with sisters from these organizations and to meet other girls who were also looking for some answers.
By my senior year, my life began to transition so much. I ended up deciding on an organization I believed would offer me the sisterhood I wanted, as well as some clarity on the direction my life was heading in. I joined a faith-based sorority. I pledged in the spring of 2012 and was immediately eager to be involved. I came into my chapter wearing many hats and thought that I was getting the best of both worlds. I had the opportunity to make a difference in my community while at the same time cultivate my own spiritual life. But I was soon faced with disappointment when things didn’t quite work out like that.
Struggling with my own faith and identity, I found it difficult to be “branded” or affiliated with a faith-based organization after a while. My line sisters and I received the occasional church jokes from our peers, but while they shrugged them off, I found myself torn. “I really want to go to this campus party, but people know I’m in a Christian sorority and it would look bad,” I found myself saying. As well as “I would love to have a drink at this party, but then I would get, ‘Aren’t you in a Christian sorority?'” I found myself getting tired of explaining myself to people. I grew weary of teaching people about my sorority because no one seemed to know about anything other than Black Greeks on campus.
Still, I tried to make it work. Wanting desperately to be a voice in my community and campus through service, I found myself at odds with my sorority sisters when it came to addressing the needs of the people we were meant to target. As someone who lives life as a learning experience and tries to be relatable in order to reach people, I found myself frustrated. My ideas were unheard because they often didn’t have a Bible-backing or didn’t relate directly to Biblical ministry. My idea of meeting the needs of people was completely different from the majority of my chapter. It was disappointing.
This wasn’t the Greek experience I planned on getting when I first entered college. I asked myself, where was the sorority pride? The networking experiences I thought I would get?
I soon realized that I wasn’t having the experience I hoped for because I joined my organization for the wrong reasons. I joined a Christian sorority because, at the time, I found myself struggling with my faith and Christianity as a whole. I believed that if I had support, I would find my way back. Not to mention that I was hellbent on making connections that could help me in the future. But through my many frustrations I began to question my choice. I started feel the pressure of living up to a certain standard that resulted in me not being true to who I am and what I believe.
I wanted sisterhood, but I found that I didn’t relate to many of my sorority sisters. I wanted to have genuine conversations about life, hang out, and build bonds and friendship, but I felt as though I didn’t fit in. Not only that, I felt I was judged harshly. So instead of being drawn closer to my faith, during my spiritual journey, I found that I had to learn to start accepting myself and stop trying to conform to what others said and did. As someone who is extremely independent and who hates labels, it’s hard for me to find my place within my sorority to this day, an organization that operates in ways that I don’t agree with. I joined because I was searching for answers, searching for myself even. But when I learned to just be myself, I felt so much better.
I appreciate and respect the work my sorority does for the community, but I have to admit that I now realize, it’s not for me…