To all the girls rushing this week.

This is my third August on Mizzou’s campus as an employee, but my first one working near Greek town. And when I say “near” Greek town, I’m practically in it. I remember during Stop day last year I could hear three different songs blaring from three different frat parties. Not exactly a welcome sound in my office, but it comes with the territory.

Fast forward to August, and the trap music (for now) has been replaced with air horns followed by indistinct female voices chanting for a new group of rushing girls. (I’m looking at you, KKG. Y’all are LOUD and PROUD.) Yesterday I saw probably 50 girls, all donning the same red Mizzou PHA T-shirt walking to their next house. They looked SO YOUNG, and I remembered that when I started college, I had just turned 18 less than two months prior. I had to admire the efforts most of them had gone to to stand out even while wearing the same shirt. They had the cutest shoes, skirts, shorts, and accessories.

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These are my best college gals. 1/4 of us were Greek.

I did not rush as a freshman at Mizzou (or ever), but seeing those matching T-shirts immediately took me back to the lounge in Hatch hall, where we’d be hanging out when the rush activities were over for the day, and all the girls on our floor who were rushing practically fell out of the elevators – hot, sweaty, physically and emotionally drained, and chatting about which houses they liked.

Something about seeing those girls yesterday made me feel so motherly toward them. I just remembered how frightening and awkward those first few weeks of college were. There was so much new going on, and we couldn’t and didn’t process it all until months or even years later.

So, if I could give them each some advice (that they probably wouldn’t even want, because, HELLO, I didn’t even go greek), this is what it would be:

This week will not make or break your college experience.

If you’re thinking “I NEED to get chosen by DG because my mom was a DG, and it’s a top tier house, and these girls will be my sisters! And in my wedding! And friends with me for the rest of my life and certainly these next four years!” – just take a deep breath. Some of those things might be true and others won’t. I know plenty of girls that loved every second of being in their sorority and wouldn’t trade it, some who liked it fine, but not enough to keep paying dues so they dropped, and others who liked it, but had lots of friends who weren’t in their house. All are fine. Your college years will be what YOU make of them – don’t let too much ride on your Greek experience. It’s different for everyone. Having the highest expectations and putting a ton of pressure on the randomness of this week is only setting yourself up for some disappointment. Perspective is good. This week is not everything.

Don’t let anyone tell you that you’re buying your friends.

Although I never said it out loud to anyone who was Greek (because I have basic social skills), there was a part of me that used to feel that way. I think it stemmed from the fact that my personality, especially during college, felt FOMO in really severe ways. I wanted to experience everything fun that was available to me. I didn’t rush because I knew it was expensive, and I already had enough guilt about how much my parents were paying for out-of-state tuition. So I repeated that cliche line to myself to make myself feel better about missing out. Reader, I was jealous. I have seen sororities turn girls into leaders in four years. Sororities encourage their members to keep up with their studies, exercise their craft-making muscles, and build life-long friendships. They can open up doors for you professionally, and provide a built-in STRONG community. So, if anyone says that to you, don’t listen to ’em. They’re just jealous. Chances are that you’ll have a fabulous time, make a ton of friends, and won’t have to worry about finding off campus housing when you’re required to live in the house (which, trust me, is a kind of a nightmare).

Look outside your sisters for some friends, too.

It is so great that you’ve just found a ton of new sister-friends who are similar to you in lots of ways. You will need them when school and boys and life get hard. There’s nothing wrong with like-minded community. But you know what’s also great? Being friends with people who are different than you, too. College is a time when you’ll be surrounded by people from all over the country and the world who don’t look like you, dress like you, talk like you, or think like you. This is, in fact, is a true gift. It would be a shame if you didn’t take advantage of it. I am 100 percent more cultured, open-minded, empathetic, and well-rounded because of the people who I got close with in college who challenged my preconceived notions about what life is like for everyone. This is not to say that your sorority sisters can’t do this for you also, they probably will in some capacity, but when house drama is at an all-time high and you think you’ll explode if you have to talk about it with one of your sisters for one second longer, you’ll be grateful for your friends you can escape to who literally could not care less.

Your worth is not defined by what house does or doesn’t pick you.

I know you know this. I know it probably doesn’t need to be said. But I also know that this week has probably been TOUGH and draining, and your perspective might be a bit off. So I’ll say it again: Your worth is not defined by whatever happens on bid day. You are beautiful, loved, and precious exactly as you are. If you didn’t get your number one choice, it’s NOT because you’re not smart enough or pretty enough or didn’t wear the right outfit, a lot of this is just chance. You just didn’t click with the girls who happened to chat with you (*spoiler alert*: Even when you are part of a sisterhood, you will NOT automatically click with every person in your sorority.). And if you DO get picked by your number one choice in a “top tier” house – congratulations! But this is just the beginning. Try not to have an inflated sense of self-importance, and remember that every part of your sorority experience for the next four years will not be all roses.

Enjoy it and record it. And not just on instagram.

These next four years are going to be some of the most fun and stressful times of your life. I am so happy for you, and a tiny bit jealous. The world is literally your oyster in ways that it’s not as much for me anymore. So take some time to take it all in. It’s really happening, you’re away from home and all the pros and cons of that reality are about to start hitting you HARD.

I would have thought that the first week of college would be something that’s so seared in my memory that it would be hard for me to forget, but this isn’t really the case.

I have one visceral memory of my parents driving away, trying to hold back tears. I was in the circle drive in front of Hatch hall. My room was all set up. I think I had about a week before classes started. I remember going back up to my room, making a sad meal of mini wheats in a coffee mug, and watching The Office on my laptop (I believe my roommate was out doing rush activities) and thinking “Well, what the hell do I do now?” I figured it out eventually, and the rest I guess is history. 

I don’t remember much else, and I wish I had written more down. Keep a diary of everything you’re doing and thinking and feeling. It’ll help you stay grateful, it’ll help you process what all you’re going through, and your future self with thank you when you’re old and gray like me and trying to remember it all.

Author: Alex Ethridge

Hi, I'm glad you found me.

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