Why I Wish I'd Been More Serious About My Sorority

Follow me down my path of misbehavior.

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Rush: A Necessity

At first I rushed because I felt I had no other choice. When I showed up on move-in day my first year, my roommate introduced herself to me by saying, "Hello. I didn't come here to make friends"—like we were contestants on a reality show. Then she told me she had a 42-year-old boyfriend, and could he come to the room sometimes? I knew I had to quickly build a social calendar so full I'd never run into her.

There is something absurd, of course, about a group of young women singing Simon & Garfunkel's "Cecilia" with the lyrics rewritten to be about their sorority.

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I spent the next week preparing all the outfits required for each rush event (black cocktail dress and heels one night; jeans, the 2005 rush T-shirt, and flats on another). A couple of family friends made recommendations on my behalf to Chi Omega. Every night for five days I marched into the sorority houses with my rush group and was caught up in a choreographed whirlwind of meet-and-greets. And a funny thing happened: I loved rush.

That's me on the left. I thought I looked chill AF.
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Oh, Maybe I'm Actually Into This!

There is something absurd, of course, about a group of young women singing Simon & Garfunkel's "Cecilia" with the lyrics rewritten to be about their sorority (there was also an accompanying dance) to recruit new members. But Chi Omegas knew it was absurd, and they leaned in. I wanted a role in this absurdity. I wanted to be with other women who approached this kind of surreal hive mind with heart and a wink.

Sorority Delinquent: A Cautionary Tale


I skipped so many meetings when I was a junior that the chapter president had me polish antique candlesticks for a few hours.

But then, I was kind of a shitty sorority sister. I shirked any leadership responsibilities, I didn't come to study groups. Chi Omega's national philanthropy partner is the Make-A-Wish Foundation, and wish presentations are huge events involving rehearsals and costumes. They culminate in a pageant that announces to the child that their wish had been granted. I missed one of those. I straight-up did not go to a sick child's Make-A-Wish presentation.

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These Chi Omegas at Colorado State University in 1978 look like they're having the best time ever. And the Getty caption says they're just meeting for lunch! Photograph courtesy of Duane Howell/Getty Images

I also didn't attend a mixer whose theme was "joutfit," which, from where I sit now in a chambray top and jeans, seems like the greatest mixer ever. Finally, I skipped so many meetings when I was a junior that technically I was supposed to be banned from the last big formal of the year. Instead, the chapter president had me polish antique candlesticks for a few hours, which was incredibly nice of her, no sarcasm.

Technically, we're a fraternity—a piece of trivia that was probably explained at an initiation lecture that I didn't attend.

I don't know why I did this. I actually really admired my Chi Omega sisters. They were funny and weird and exceptionally bright. They were all stylish. They loved one another. But I had a lot of social anxieties. I was a good rushee because I could easily perform the most interesting version of myself for 15-, 20-, or 30-minute rush events. But when it came to working closely with these women and being vulnerable in a real way, performing myself became really exhausting.

We made a chi and an omega with our arms! Spirit!

I Missed Out. You Should Not.

I missed out on a lot by being the laziest Chi Omega in the history of the fraternity. (Technically, yes, we're a fraternity—a piece of trivia that was probably explained at an initiation lecture that I didn't attend.)

Women who hold leadership positions in their sororities essentially learn how to run a small business. Sisters handled the finances of our chapter, they led meetings of a hundred people, they established partnerships with the city's cultural institutions. At 19, 20, 21, these sisters were having profound experiences and building legitimate life skills. The more involved in a sorority a girl at my college was, the more confident she seemed—among her peers, among authority figures, among strangers.

Made it to that formal, y'all.

All was not lost, though. I still keep the following line from the Chi Omega Symphony as a personal life guideline: "[T]o work earnestly, to speak kindly, to act sincerely, to choose thoughtfully that course which occasion and conscience demand."

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