Hear from one of our summer interns and new alumna, Katie, about how she found belonging in her sorority these past four years:
I never thought I’d be in a sorority.
In high school, I wasn’t what I’d consider popular. Even though I had friends and I enjoyed spending time with them, I wasn’t considered to be part of the popular group. I wasn’t bullied (after my braces were off) and I was fairly quiet. There were things I wanted to change about myself, but couldn’t, and there were also things I did that I felt weren’t “me,” but I did them because they were trendy and the popular girls did them too. I was trying to “fit in” with everyone around me.
Upon joining my sorority in 2020, I felt differently than I had with any other group of people. I belonged. I was constantly hyped up and reassured that I was where I was supposed to be, even when I had doubts.
Over the past eight years, I have experienced many things. These experiences have taught me the significance of belonging somewhere, rather than merely attempting to fit in. This concept applies to both our academic and personal lives.
Belonging feels completely different. When I knew I belonged, I didn’t have to hold in a joke. I could freely express myself through my humor or movie quotes I thought were funny. I didn’t have to second guess my outfit choices to look like someone else. Being myself was not only acceptable but it was encouraged. I felt as if I truly was meant to be there.
Fitting in (or attempting to do so) adds a layer of stress to any individual or organization. Fitting in is trying to belong. When you’re attempting to fit in, you often go out of your way to do things you wouldn’t normally do. You have the ability to make choices about your clothing, communication style, and other characteristics that shape who you are as a person. All for the facade of “fitting in.”
From the outside, sororities may look like people just trying to fit in. Thankfully, in my experience, I can confidently say that’s not the case. As a potential new member going through recruitment, I didn’t feel the need to change anything about myself to fit in. I stayed true to myself and wrote down how I felt about each chapter after each party. Even as a new member, my experience did not involve changing myself, my beliefs, or anything about me. I was able to fully embrace and express my authentic self during recruitment, which allowed me to feel a deep sense of comfort within my chapter.
My chapter selected me for just being me. Everyone going through sorority recruitment is unique and special. Everyone has the potential to add to a chapter and make it a better place. By not trying to fit in and remaining true to yourself, you will certainly find your own home- where you truly belong.
My values also spoke to who I am and why I would eventually become a fully developed member of our chapter. I am driven in what I take on and search for happiness in everything I do; so I was able to take these values and eventually become Vice President of our organization and now I am working for my organization’s National Headquarters as a traveling consultant.
After attending our organization’s Emerging Leaders Conference in 2022, I took away the quote “Belonging is an organization that engages the full potential of the individual, where innovation thrives, and views, beliefs, and values are integrated… Belonging is an outcome.” This experience helped me understand that a chapter is not just the combination of its individual components, but something greater than that- it encompasses the entirety of its members. Belonging in a chapter is the creation of a home while making sure everyone has the potential to grow, thrive, and be who they truly are.
Remember to always stay true to who you are. Sometimes it can be challenging to express ourselves uniquely since we often learn to follow the crowd. However, staying true to who you are, and loving yourself where you belong, is more important than trying to fit in.