For the Rush of It

originally published at blogcritics.org

“My bouncing is way off.”

“Your bouncing? What’s bouncing?”

After practicing my bouncing and clapping, and chanting sorority ditties for two weeks, I had no idea why anyone on earth wouldn’t know what bouncing was.

“It’s kind of like jumping up and down without leaving the ground,” I answered.

Bouncing was for certain the bane of my existence. This was my second year in a sorority, and the year that I was going to be on the other side of rush, or Recruitment as they like to say. In my whole time in the sorority, I had made about two friends, or at least “people I could talk to.”

My childhood had left me feeling, still, like that awkward overgrown kid with shaggy bangs covering her face.  Yet by this time I had blended in with everyone else, except for the awkward part.  Recruitment preparation had begun in the spring with the passing out of “The Little Black Book,” which described in detail the outfits we were supposed to wear for the four days of Recruitment, with example pictures, the required jewelry and its color, specific shoes, and whether or not we could wear a headband.

On one of the first days of Work Week (actually two weeks of all-day training before rush), I realized the severity of my lack of coordination.  The sorority president separated three other stragglers and me into an empty hallway and made us bounce and clap together. The harmony clearly wasn’t there.  Just at that moment, with the four of us bouncing up and down like a game of Whac-A-Mole, the rest of the sorority decided to move rooms. I was humiliated enough without having every girl in the house walk by and see my secret shame.

During short breaks we would have “dress checks,” standing outside the director of rush’s room to see if our outfits were up to par. I went into these events nervous, like I was about to confess my sins to a priest. It could only have been worse if I had no clothes on at all – maybe.

One girl came out visibly upset, explaining, “She told me I get a little bloated in my stomach when I eat too much salty food.”

Fearfully I entered. After looking me up and down, they asked, “What are you wearing underneath?”

Wondering what could be bulging, I admitted, “I already have Spanx on.”

“Oh, OK. That’s fine.”

That’s fine? I spent time, effort and cash to get that’s fine? Clearly this was a joke or a bad dream.

For those of you who don’t know, Spanx is an undergarment used for body-shaping, a modern girdle. It sucks the fat in from the thighs to right below the bra leaving a slim shape free of panty-lines.

When Recruitment was over I called my dad for comfort and balled about how much I hated being there. As a former sorority girl herself, my mom offered little comfort, except telling me to embrace my time there.

“Honey, you’re just like me. You just don’t care.”

For some reason, I found those words from my dad empowering. Yeah, I don’t care, that’s right. I told my friend back at the house about my tears.

“It’s okay,” she said.  “I’ve cried to my mom every day.”

My mother didn’t understand. She loved her sorority.  “Emily, all my best friends today, I met in my sorority.  You just need to be more outgoing. Just say hi to the girls in the house.”

When I moved into the house, I watched as she went around introducing herself as Karen (insert her sorority’s name).  I went through rush on my own volition the year prior to work week and moving into the house. I couldn’t completely blame my current circumstances on my mother, even if joining was mostly her idea.

On my Bid Day (the day in which you find out what house you pay your money to for four years), the writing was on the wall. EMILY, LEAVE! As some houses went bowling or roller-skating or on some other tame expedition like that, mine had a DJ and a slip’n’slide in the backyard. Having just met all these people, I wasn’t totally ready to run around half-naked, greased up in Crisco. I am sure I blamed myself as I often do. There wasn’t something wrong with this situation; it was me, and my inability to be “outgoing.”

How did sororities evolve to this? I thought it was about scholarship, sisterhood, and class. But apparently it is about date parties, status, saying one thing but doing another, and making up pretend things to care about. I have seen pictures of the founders from the late 1800s. I couldn’t imagine them with Spanx on under those matronly dresses, or going to weekend fraternity parties themed “Golf Pros and Tennis Hos.”

Now as a junior living in the house (and I do blame this one on mom) as the younger girls pass me in the hall and ask who is that girl? Before I even am out of earshot and as I get snapped at for touching food without tongs, I have to stop myself from jumping and down screaming, “When I grow up, I’M LIVING ALONE! I’M LVING ALONE!”

December 12, 2009. Tags: , , , , , . Uncategorized. 2 comments.

the little sorority girl that couldn’t

Sorority life: it would be an understatement to say it is not for everyone. If you like dressing up in costumes, high school dances, saying one thing but doing another, and making up pretend things to care about then it is probably for you. That is a bit harsh and exaggerated, and I can already hear my sister in the back of my head saying “this was your choice” and my mom saying “you just need to be more outgoing.”

I can see how a lot of people enjoy it. If you make friends, go out, and get involved on campus then yes. But to me, getting involved on campus looks like high school student council super-sized. Are these groups really necessary? What do they actually do? I am probably just being uber-negative because if everyone were me, they would just stay at home and flake out on everyone else. It is quite the life. I mean the relief of thinking you’re going to do something then backing out last minute is precious.

I believe the stars were not aligned for me to enjoy Greek life. I have been pain-fully shy my entire life. Outgoing isn’t exactly in my vocabulary. I barely came out of my awkward-looking phase before I entered college. My introduction to my sorority began on Bid Day 2007. While some sororities go bowling or roller skating or something comfortable like that, mine instead had a giant slip’n’slide in the back yard. So awkward shy me wasn’t ready to get half-naked in front of strangers and oil myself up in Crisco. pooI know there are contradictions in  every facet of life but the ones here just seem so blatant. I don’t want to discredit people just because they are in a house because I know a lot of successful, nice people who are Greek. People are more than their letters. I just think there is just so much nonsense that goes into it. Some days, I feel like I am playing the corporate game.  No one say what we are all thinking! You are not a person but a marketing tool. How did it evolve this far? A group of smart dowdy-looking chicks wanted to start a club and then…. How did they recruit new members back in the 1870s without Spanx??

This little rant was all inspired by mom this evening. Have you ever been yelled at for everything you already feel incredibly bad about bad about? Yeah well it was one those fights.  I still feel like an observer of Greek life rather than a participator even though this is my second year in the house. Usually, even though I am shy, friends just happen for me, but not here. Being the quiet girl who smiles a lot has gotten me pretty far in life until now. I could say I really have no friends in this house, lots of acquaintances yes but friends no.  This just makes me want to leave here as much as I can which kind of also hurts the whole friend-making business. I feel like a stranger here with everyone wondering “Who is that weird girl?” It is an awful worthless feeling.

I am sure there are nice bright girls in the house. I mean, I know there are but we aren’t pals. My mom says I don’t try, probably true. She is someone who loved her sorority and all her friends from it are all still her friends. She is quite blessed for that, but it didn’t happen for me. I was told by someone once that I accept things that make me unhappy. Probably, because I always assume I am the one doing something wrong. I just feel like I have wasted two years being in something I don’t like when I could be living with people I do. What I really would like to hear from my mom is “This isn’t for everyone, and that’s ok.”

September 22, 2009. Tags: , , , , . Uncategorized. 1 comment.