Life is made up of a series of stages and decisions. Some say that we are in control of our own destiny and I believe that making the right choices at each stage in life is how we control our future. But do you know at the time, that you are molding a life for yourself, and if you did, would you change the decisions you made in the past?
I have always considered my college years to be some of the most important years, or one of the most important stages, of my life. I believe that college is where you grow the most, live on your own and finally make your own decisions and hopefully learn from your mistakes. The life you live and decisions you make certainly mold you into the person you will be after the college stage. Looking back now, twenty years later, I am grateful for the choices I made at that time and one of the best decisions I made was joining a sorority and getting involved with a group of friends that I paid good money for.
Throughout the span of time, Greek life has gotten a bum wrap from those who have never experienced it. And those of us that have lived that life, spend our time defending it. I have even written about it in the past and the negativity that comes from “paying for our friends”. This past week, the positive perks of sorority life flew in and smacked me in the face, and I realized that the money I spent on my friends twenty years ago was well worth it!
A sorority sister of mine was diagnosed with cancer just a few months ago. In the short amount of time from diagnosis to now, the cancer has become too strong for Emily and, at only forty years old with three children in tow, she is fighting for her life. With so many of us living all over the country, our options to raise money were limited. There was no fundraising opportunity to sell tickets to an awesome party or auction off fancy items. But there was a simple Facebook message that was sent to all of her old sorority sisters that she has not seen in twenty years asking for prayers and whatever they could contribute for Emily’s family. Within 24 hours, we had raised three thousand dollars, and now, we are up to almost five thousand dollars.
Maybe that’s nothing to you in the grand scheme of fundraising, but for these women to take from their own families and give to someone else based off of a friendship they had at eighteen years old; that’s something to me. When we left college, most of us went our separate ways and we moved on to the next stage of life. We took the small group of besties with us, wished the rest of the chapter well, but knew we’d only see them at the occasional alumni event or reunion down the road. Perhaps none of us ever thought about the bond that we created with those that were not in our core group. And no, I do not believe it was the ritual or the initiation process involving goats and hazing newbies (another incorrect stereotype) that bonded us. It was the trifecta of the s’s - Shit, Shower and Shave.
We all lived together and studied together. We achieved goals together and failures together. We screwed up during these years, fell in love and experienced heartbreak. And whether we were best friends or not, we experienced it together in some fashion because we all lived together. This was the stage we were in at the time and we all went through it together.
If someone would have told me that at eighteen years old I would find the family that would resurface when times got rough and they would step in to take care of my family even though we may not have spoken in twenty years, I would have paid double the dues! When you are eighteen and going through the rush process, you mainly think about the four years in front of you. Who the girls are in the chapter - can you drink with them, can you laugh with them, can you be yourself? I do not remember thinking about how this decision would affect my life at forty years old.
For those of you that are in this stage in life, going through college, learning, laughing and loving, this is the stage that will affect every stage moving forward. Tune out the nonsense and get involved. Be a part of something – Greek life may not be for you, but do something that puts you in the middle of a bond like the trifecta of s’s. Make a commitment to something and someone that will show up for you when you least expect it and make sure you are willing to show up for someone else. Decide to be a part of a family that can feel your pain no matter how much time has passed and help remember that euphoric stage of college that you never knew at the time would be looked upon as the best years of your life. And “pay for your friends” – it is an investment you will get back ten fold!