Paying for Friends: Stigmas Behind Sororities

Before entering college, I knew I wanted to be an involved student. Clubs where I could have a creative outlet intrigued me, and I needed to dive into activities that included social interaction. Throughout my soon-to-be college experience, I knew involvement would be the key to my success. While this all was true, I also knew one thing: I would never in a million years rush to join a sorority.

Participating in Greek life was never an option for me. I, along with many others, kept the prominent stigmas at the forefront of our brains:

  • Being in a sorority would distract me from my academics.
  • All people do in Greek life is party.
  • Sorority women are superficial.
  • And the most popular: Sorority women are merely paying for friends.

With every preconceived notion harvested in my thoughts, I entered my freshman year knowing that sorority life would never be an option for me.

I’ll never forget my move-in day on campus. As I crept through the doorway of my new home, I heard my suitemates on Zoom interviews. They arrived on campus nearly a week before my set move-in date. This was because of their rush process through the Panhellenic Council.

As I tip-toed past my suitemates, avoiding causing any interruptions, I also listened in on their interviews. Calls included conversations about shared interests, fears, aspirations and opinions—nothing out of the ordinary. However, what surprised me was how authentic the women on the other side of the screen sounded. They seemed friendly and approachable, which was an unexpected aspect considering my preconceived notions.

After settling in that day, I remember speaking with my suitemates about their experiences. They were jittery, on edge and hopeful all at once. Those aspects consumed them in the best way possible. They raved about their excitement and desires for their future. Within those discussions with them, I felt apprehensive about my decision to neglect the attempt to be in a sorority.

Days passed and bid day arrived. They immediately had friends, a social life, events to look forward to and a support system. Seeing this made me instantly regret not rushing during my freshman fall.

I navigated through my first semester of college, rarely seeing daylight, unmotivated, lonely and utterly depressed. And I’m not pinning this all on not joining a sorority, nor am I suggesting that you’ll be unhappy if you’re in the same predicament I was settled with. This is just my experience.

Adjusting to a new environment was difficult for me. I didn’t have a group of supportive friends, and I felt that COVID-19 restrictions hindered my ability to meet people. I don’t say this all to start a personal pity party, but I genuinely didn’t know how to adapt to my new circumstances. During that fall, it often felt like I was in a desert. Voids were dominating my life, and I needed to pinpoint what they were and how to fix them.

Directly following the university Thanksgiving break, I didn’t come back to campus. At the time, it felt pointless. Taking that period to reflect, I was able to diagnose the cause of my depression. In the end, I realized that I isolated myself. Due to this, finding the support I yearned for was difficult.

Discussing my dilemma with my suitemates, they came up with the solution of rushing for a sorority in the spring semester. This thought never occurred to me, but I immediately was in favor of it. After seeing my friend’s involvement and overall happiness, I wanted to see if Greek life would have that same effect on me.

Signing up for the spring rush information session gave me hope for what my future at my university could look like. I still went through the process skeptical about what the result could be, but was going through the journey with the hope for a better version of me in the end.

Around mid-January, I received a bid from my sorority. Since then, I’ve made friends, have developed more trusting relationships with people, have broken down my walls and have been the happiest version of myself while at college.

Coming from someone who believed in the stigmas, I can wholeheartedly say that being a part of Greek life changed the course of my life at my university. So yes, maybe you do pay for friends. However, the people that surround you will support you, encourage you, accept you as you are and be there for you in your darkest times.