Tonight was my last chapter.
The last time I stood with my sisters as an active member and perhaps the last time I see some of them in person. It’s weighty, and as my mother said to me on the phone today, “Where the hell have the last four years gone?” Here’s pretty much what I said to them, attempting to impart some wisdom event though I know I have so much to learn.
This will be one part reminiscing and one part motivational, hopefully. Because that’s what my sorority has given me. Inspiration, motivation, and that’s what I’d like to give back, if only to just a few of you.
Everyone, close your eyes. Really. Now take a deep breath in – straighten up and really bring it in – and now let it out, slowly.
Your heart is beating, there’s blood in your veins and it’s tingling in your fingers and toes. Your bones and muscles are keeping you from being a pile of organs on the floor. Your lungs are saying thank you for taking a moment to focus on them, and your brain is literally doing a hundred things simultaneously just so that you can be here; never mind the 1000 other things you need to do in the next 24 hours.
But we’re so hard on ourselves. We didn’t do this well enough, we need to be more this, less that, if only this would just go away, I could do it. But there’s so much – you won’t be enough. Better to just not try at all…
Inherently, I think we all want to be “better,” whatever that means for you. Just by being in this sorority, you are better. We made a choice to be here, and immediately opportunities became available to us that otherwise we would not have had. Whether we take advantage of them is completely up to us.
I think I’ve gotten more out of this sorority than I thought possible.
Every moment I am in the presence of my sisters I feel warm, more secure. That first night when I came in late to Bid Night because of a stupid anatomy lab, I was wide-eyed and honestly, terrified. What the hell had I gotten myself into?
Turns out, I had gotten myself into a group of women who epitomized “I do what I want, how I want;” exactly the kind of women needed to start a sorority on a huge campus. They liked nerdy things, they liked dancing, they liked big dreams, they liked learning, they liked letting loose and maybe staying out too late, and they liked each other.
I wanted to know more – about all of them, and all of you. So I asked, and I listened. And I’ve tried to listen to every single one of you that I’ve had the privilege of talking to. The impressions you leave on me are not forgotten. My pledge-class stranger turned sophomore year roomie? You are the epitome of hard-work and perseverance. You are fiery and passionate and quirky and awkward and determined. I’m continually inspired by the amount of commitments you take on, and the amount that you’ve overcome to get here and get what you want. I love you for it, and know that I wouldn’t have done crazy shit like host an apartment party in the middle of a snowstorm.. and proceed to frolic in said snowstorm and jump off a wall into a pile of snow for snow angels. Or go skinny dipping in the campus corner swimming pool, sit under the lights at the art museum in the middle of summer, play ping-pong in the Union Board office, or take a large van out to hike to a remote location of Lake Monroe. Thank you for being you.
My pledge class, you are the first friends I had in this sorority and were just as unsure of yourselves as me. We looked up to the Alphas in awe and banded together for meals, new member education, and pairs.
My grandlittle, I know that your college journey has not been easy. You hold yourself to such high standards and only want the best. You feel everything and aren’t afraid of it, and I respect you for it. I see myself in the way you stress over the 1 million and 1 things you have to do, worrying about the time you have for each day, and hoping you could just make your mind be quiet for once. I’ve been there, and that is why I will always listen to you – to an extent – before I turn into the cheerleading mom that wants you to always remember how much potential you have. I think you’ve already grown so much in the past year, and so long as you take care of you and continue to be forgiving and patient with the challenges that come your way, you will continue to do so. I trusted the little to go with her gut and pick whoever she felt needed to be in our, let’s be honest, crazy, family, and while you are most certainly not easy, you are so very very worth it.
And Little. This entire semester you have said “no, not now.” We’ll talk briefly about “after” and then we decide that we like now much more. I didn’t think I’d be as crazy about you as I was when our friend told me that her little childhood buddy had gotten a bid to my sorority in the class we had together spring of sophomore year. I was interested, sure, but honestly didn’t remember you except vaguely remembering the old lady name being called out at Bid Night. Then the three of us had lunch together and you were characteristically picky, despite the fact that we were at a Thai buffet, and also reserved (which is weird, because you are not). As you quietly told me you were hoping to be a dentist, and Friend was saying how type-A you were, and also pretty much a goody-good, I knew my gut was telling me to keep you around.
And how glad I am that I did. Honestly, those first couple months I wasn’t sure if you liked me though. I was thinking “how much do we really have in common?” and “I wonder if she tolerates or appreciates my high energy…” and also “damn. this girl has got her life planned out like an instructional guide”
We quickly learned that we were both trying to become RAs, and as fate would have it, we both got the job. And unbeknownst to our bosses, at the same place.
And we became a team. Despite living on opposite corners of the prison, we were either at the desk together, in one of our rooms, eating together, or struggling into the wee hours of the night up in the resource room. We bitched about our weekly meetings, got excited when our “kids” did something great like the proud moms we are, cried when we (mostly me) realized how hard our kids lives had been, and cursed when they were truly being idiots. I appreciate your dry sarcasm that is currently not in vogue at your workplace, and also your willingness to say whatever the hell you want, because you are honest dammit. Sometimes this gets you into trouble, but you are usually right, and I basically say the same things in a nicer matter that just don’t *seem* as offensive. I love this about you. Because your lack of filter and care is something that rubbed off on me and made me better for it.
And then life got really hard. You would, and still literally do, hold me up and help me when I need the support, listen as I tried to figure out what the hell was going on with me while maintaining a basically full-time job, 8 am – 6 pm course load, 10 – 20 hours of volunteering a week, sorority commitments, dance marathon, the riding team, helping my kids, maybe seeing friends…
It was really no surprise when they finally told me I had narcolepsy, and you’ve handled my new eccentricities with grace and humor, as always. My temporary paralysis doesn’t phase you in the slightest, and you actually think it’s cool that I frequently turn into a human puppet doll. You don’t complain when I can’t do something because you know I wouldn’t have the energy or be able to stay awake for it. You’ve seen the highs and the lows as I try and accommodate this new normal into my life, and listen with unending patience.
And so I try to do the same for you. Because I appreciate you so much, and I hope you know I will defend you to the ends of the earth because you’re pretty much family now that I’ve gone on a bar crawl with your extended family.
Life hasn’t be easy this semester for you either, and I want nothing more than to see you be happy and go after what you want. When anyone tries to delay or prevent this, you know how much it makes my blood boil, and my offer to flip desks and ransack offices still stands should you need it next semester.
In short, know that I think you are amazing and that we happen to balance each other out quite well. While I may not be able to go to Dragon Express with you on a late weeknight, or surprise you on your floor after a night out at the bars with cartwheels, or get lunch every Monday/Wednesday/Friday, I will only be a facetime or historical meme away, and we’ve obviously got many more adventures as I said now that you’re finally 21. If you and your boi can do it with him at that shit-hole school, surely we can with me only 30 minutes away.
And that is basically what I said, if modified slightly, to my sorority tonight. That I appreciate all of them. To not be so hard on themselves because we are so damn wonderful and I see only the positives – see their accomplishments as I scroll through my social media accounts and burst with pride, talk with them and learn something I would never have guessed about that person and have my horizons expanded. I’ve loved every minute of it, and certainly don’t take it for granted.