At eight-years-old, I remember hanging out in my brother’s fraternity house. It was a rickety old house with decaying walls, chipped paint and a pungent aroma of soured milk and aged garbage. I loved it so much that right then I declared one day I was going to join a sorority and live in a house exactly like that one.
When it was time for me to narrow down my college choices, Indiana University fell into the number one spot. Besides their great journalism program, they had one of the largest Greek systems in the nation. It was a prefect fit.
Within a few weeks, I had made a great group of girlfriends from my dorm floor. I couldn’t wait for the recruitment process to begin; I knew my new friends and I would all end uup in the same sorority.
It was the day after our last rush party, and our rush counselors were handing us our bids. One by one, I watched my friends go into a room and walk out with grins on their faces. It was my turn. My heart was pounding. This was the moment I’d been waiting my whole life for.
I anxiously opened the door and sat wide-eyed in from of my rush counselor. Her face was sullen, and eyes blurred with tears.
“What’s the matter?” I asked with concern.
“I dont’ know how to tell you this -- there’s no easy way, so...here.”
She handed me a thin envelope with my name typed on the front.
“It’s thin,” I said nervously. “Thin isn’t good.”
Like a Band-Aid, I ripped it open. It read: “We regret to inform you that we could not place you in a sorority.”
“But I’ve wanted this my entire life,” I stuttered through sobs, “can’t we tell them that?”
“This is the biggest flaw with the Greek system. There are so many girls who want to join sororities, but not enough sororities to support them. Sometime when you don’t know someone, you fall through the cracks. Even if you happen to be a great girl, which you are.”
I nodded. I pretended to understand, but I didn’t. I knew in my heart I wanted to be part of the Greek system more than any of those other girls. Didn’t that count for anything? She leaned over and hugged me tightly. “I really am so sorry. You can always rush again next year.”
Next year. That’s when it hit me. I had just watched all my friends get accepted into their sororities of choice. Next year, they’d all move into new homes and build new friendships and start new lives. What about me? Where would I live? Who would my new friends be?
The most intense pain was the ache of rejection. Wasn’t I pretty enough? Smart enough? Did I not own the right clothes? I felt humiliated, like all my bad traits and unattractive qualities had been nit-picked and put on display for everyone to see. I’d spent 19 years trying to build my self-esteem and in one instant, it plummeted.
The next day was brutal. All the freshmen girls were told to wear their lettered sweatshirts so the entire university could see into what sorority they’d been accepted. Everywhere I looked there were girls in letters; it seemed like everyone had gotten into a sorority, but me.
I carried the hurt around for months. My pride and sense of worth had been squashed. But even so, I realized something incredibly important; something that not only got me through college, but also gets me through every day of my life. Things don’t always go as planned.
We can spend our entire lives thinking things are supposed to happen a certain way, and when they don’t, if we’re too focused on the couldas and shouldas, we miss out on what actually is there.
I am gratfeul for my college experience. My social calendar was always packed, I discovered my passion for writing and I built great relationships with intelligent professors. I may not have had the college life I always dreamt of, but that’s okay. Because the one I had was even better.