The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.
I am not a spontaneous person. I am the type of person who needs a plan, and when I have a plan I like to stick to it perfectly. In February of 2020, I was enjoying my senior year and following my plan. I was intending to go to college at Chapman University. which was 25 minutes away from my home in southern California. I was going to be safe. I was going to do what made me feel comfortable. And I was not going to join a sorority.
Then, March happened.
My perfect plan slipped away as every day went on, but I could not get St. Louis out of my head. I had visited Saint Louis University (SLU) in November, and while I loved the school and the city, there was no way that I was going to move 2,000 miles away from my home. I wouldn’t be able to. It was too far, and I knew no one. I was so convinced that I was going to stay close to home that I actually started to tell people that I was going to Chapman. But I hadn’t actually committed. I would go on the commitment website and just stare at it, unable to bring myself to make it official. Around the last week of March, something shifted. I was staying up until 3 a.m. stalking the SLU Instagram or staring at pictures of the arch. One night I sat with my parents and made the oh-so-common pros and cons list. SLU had double the pros and only one con: it was far. Somehow that night—and maybe it was due to fleeting confidence—that con didn’t seem so scary. The next day I committed to SLU. The minute I pressed submit, I burst into tears. That confidence had worn off immediately.
Over the next few months, I would flip from being excited to terrified. I would talk about SLU for hours with so much excitement in my voice and then later would have a panic attack. I cried in my mom’s arms the night before I left. I remember thinking, “I can’t do this.” After I had moved in, I sobbed on my parent’s hotel bed and begged them to take me home. I cried in the Chick-fil-A drive-thru line on the way back to campus before I said goodbye to my dad. When I hugged my dad goodbye, he told me how proud he was of me. I cried more into his shirt. My mom left the next day, and I cried in the car while my mom held about 15 Target bags. I honestly believe that the only reason I was able to walk away from my mom that day is that I had to pee so badly. The homesickness slowly got better, and I suddenly felt like I was going to be okay.
Of the friends that I had met, two of them were going through sorority recruitment. When they asked me why I wasn’t going through recruitment, I couldn’t really give them an answer. It just wasn’t “me.” In my head, a sorority was a group of snooty girls with bad spray tans who thought they were better than everyone else. But when I looked at my friends, that wasn’t who I saw. In fact, I didn’t see that in any of the sororities at SLU. I saw people who looked like they were having the absolute time of their lives. At this point, I still could have joined. I honestly don’t know why I didn’t. I just never thought that I would. It wasn’t in my plan. So, I let the opportunity pass. On Bid Day, I saw people running around campus laughing, covered in glitter, wearing dorky costumes with feather boas and cowboy hats. This time, I took the snooty approach and rolled my eyes, acting like I was the better one. But that was a front. I was jealous, and I knew it. I saw their community and regretted that I hadn’t joined it.
My regret started to fade and for a while, I was actually doing really well. But just like I wasn’t able to get SLU out of my head, I couldn’t get Greek life out of my head. A little part of me still wanted it, even if I pretended that it didn’t exist. Sometime at the end of the semester, I was on Instagram and someone had posted a poll asking if anyone was interested in going through informal recruitment in the spring. Something in me that day made me hit yes. And then I forgot about it. I mean, I completely forgot about it.
Second semester started out better than the first but fell apart very quickly. It felt like I had taken several steps back and was back in the first week. This time, it was less homesickness and more isolation. Not only was I 2,000 miles away from home, I was 2,000 miles away from home in the middle of a pandemic. Everything was closed. There weren’t many social events. All of my classes were online. And to make it so much worse, the group of friends that I had made the first week crumbled. I went from having about 10 friends to three. I was miserable.
Then one day, I was sitting in class when I got a direct message from a girl I didn’t know named Dani. The message said, “hey girly so someone gave me your name for interest in recruitment and I’m in Kappa Delta [KD] and was wondering if you would want to grab a coffee or lunch sometime in the next few days and we could talk more about it if you’re interested.” To make this so much better, Dani was actually sitting in the same class as me when she sent the message. It was just a little bit creepy. But clearly, it was a good creepy because I was intrigued. I agreed to get coffee with her, still convinced that there was no way I was actually going to join. I remember thinking that I was only going to hear her out.
Dani and I ended up talking for three hours. I left that coffee date and was sold. I wanted to be a KD. These people believed in everything that I did. They were kind and confident and beyond wonderful. When I got my bid I jumped up and down screaming. On Bid Day, I felt for the first time that I was truly at home. Kappa Delta became my home, and I didn’t feel alone anymore.
Over the past eleven months of sorority membership, I have seen myself grow in so many ways. I have become kinder, stronger, more accepting, and more loving. Most of all, I have become so much more confident. For the first 18 years of my life, I felt like I was never enough. I wasn’t pretty enough, skinny enough, smart enough, or funny enough. For the first time in my life, I can actually look in the mirror and smile at the woman I see growing in front of me. I never thought that a group of people could love me as unconditionally as these people do. I am still not perfect in my journey towards self-love but I am better than I ever thought I could be. I will forever be thankful for each and every one of them. I joined Kappa Delta on a complete leap of faith, and it has been the greatest experience of my college years so far. I have met the most incredible women who fill my heart with so much joy. Every single person I have met in KD has been wonderful and has exceeded my highest expectations. I look forward to chapter every week and enjoy every minute of it. Even the simplest things like spotting someone on West Pine make my day, week, or month.
I am not going to write this and pretend that there are no problems with the Greek life system. I actually spent most of high school believing that the entire system should be abolished. Greek life has a horrible history of white supremacy and overall exclusion of diverse identities. There has been an immeasurable amount of damage done, but I do genuinely believe that Greek life at SLU is taking the necessary steps to undo as much of that damage as possible.
That being said, I believe that I am an example of just some of the good that Greek life can do. I genuinely believe that if I hadn’t gotten involved in Greek life that I would not have come back to SLU. If you would have asked my high-school year self if I would join a sorority, I would have laughed in your face. In reality, joining a sorority has been the best decision I have made in college. In the hardest moments, knowing that I had those friends to fall back on made all the difference.