When I went through sorority recruitment, I had no idea how much of an impact the process would have on my self-esteem. The thought of finding a possible sisterhood was exciting to me, especially as a queer person, and I was hopeful about finding a community on my Greek Life-centric campus. However, when the recruitment process started — and a majority of houses dropped me after the first day — I felt my self-esteem plummet as I dealt with feelings of rejection and low self-worth.
I always rolled my eyes at the people who cried during recruitment — I couldn’t imagine placing so much of my self-worth in the hands of others. But it wasn’t until my top house dropped me (during the final round, mind you) that I found myself crying on the phone to my mom on a park bench. I wasn’t sad that I wouldn’t run home to that sorority — I was sad because I felt rejected. What was wrong with me? Why didn’t they want me? Am I not good enough for a bid, or a community?
While I did end up joining a sorority (I dropped it after a year and a half — it wasn’t my vibe), I continued to feel lingering insecurity every time recruitment came around. Seeing other PNMs struggle with their self-esteem brought me back to that park bench, and while rejection is a part of recruitment, there is a way to deal with it, and protect your self-worth in the process.
Battling with your self-esteem during recruitment isn’t a unique experience. So, I spoke to mindfulness educator and self-compassion coach Linette Bixby to get some tips on protecting your self-esteem during the sorority recruitment process.
Plan ahead (emotionally, that is).
Sorority recruitment can be a catalyst for all sorts of emotions: a sense of belonging, lingering feelings of rejection, sadness, anger, happiness… you name it. That’s why, before heading into rush, take some time to plan ahead and consider all of the possible outcomes. For instance, think about how you might feel if you didn’t end up getting a bid to your top house, or a bid at all. By meditating on these feelings beforehand, you may feel less blindsided if the outcome isn’t what you had planned.
“Write out your values, what kind of people you want to surround yourself with, and whatever sorority you join, will be just right for you,” Bixby tells Her Campus. “By planning ahead and keeping to your values, you will be saving yourself from hurt feelings and a blow to your self-esteem and self-confidence.”
In addition to this, consider repeating some positive affirmations that can boost your confidence and self-esteem. Repeating statements like, “I am enough” and “I’m worthy no matter what” can help you get into a good and positive headspace before heading into the recruitment process.
Be clear with your boundaries before rushing.
It’s normal to approach recruitment with a positive, eager mindset. However, it’s important to keep in mind that the process isn’t all sunshine and rainbows — and that, oftentimes, you can find yourself feeling hurt by the outcome. Before heading into rush, really think about why you want to go through this experience, and draw boundaries with yourself and your expectations.
“Try to list the kind of people you want to surround yourself with, and think of [recruitment] as you interviewing them to be sure they are a good fit for your life,” Bixby says. “Keep in mind ahead of time that if they don’t like who you authentically are, then they are not your people.”
But that doesn’t mean you have to be all doom and gloom! Bixby recommends “reframing” the idea of rejection and looking at the experience as just another step in your path as a human being. “There needs to be a positive mindset going into a recruitment, like thinking, ‘I will be chosen by some but not all,'” Bixby says. “Framing it this way is more positive, and refrains from the idea or thought of ‘rejection.’ It’s all in your mindset.”
Dealing with low self-esteem during recruitment is a universal experience.
As gutting as it is to say, everyone will experience some form of low self-esteem during the recruitment process. Whether it’s getting dropped by a house, or constantly feeling pressure to be “good enough,” battling with your self-worth is just a part of the experience. And because of that, you’re not alone at all in how you may be feeling during the process.
“You might not see that truth on the outside, but it’s there behind the smiles,” Bixby says. “Know that every single person going through this is feeling just like you.”
To remind yourself of this, Bixby recommends repeating the self-compassion mantra “just like me”: “‘These girls are nervous, just like me,’ These girls are afraid of rejection, just like me,’ ‘Everyone wants to fit in, just like me.’ Create your own mantra to remind yourself that you are not alone in this process.”
Recruitment can be an amazing experience, or it could simply not go as planned. Regardless of the outcome, consistently remind yourself that your self-worth isn’t determined by the opinions of others. While it’s easier said than done, taking the time and energy to protect your self-esteem is one of the most important aspects when you’re preparing for rush (more so than your outfit). Remember: A house dropping you has nothing to do with you, and everything to do with them.
While it might (really) suck if your recruitment doesn’t go as planned, it’s important to remember that everything happens for a reason. Who knows? Maybe a better opportunity will come along instead.
If you or someone you know is seeking help for mental health concerns, visit the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) website, or call 1-800-950-NAMI(6264). For confidential treatment referrals, visit the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) website, or call the National Helpline at 1-800-662-HELP(4357). In an emergency, contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK(8255) or call 911.