greek tragedy writes back

Psa-sorority-stamps-four I give a lot of advice, that is, when someone comes to me for it. And truth be told, sometimes I open the trap and give advice when it’s not asked of me. And then I apologize and remind myself they’re talking because they want someone to listen. So I do. Today I received an email from a woman in college asking for my advice. I’m not a therapist, but when someone asks my opinion, I give it. And now I’m giving it out, here on the blog, because I know it’s what I wish someone walked me through when I was going through it. It applies to so many of us, at many points in our lives, and it’s really what I hung this blog on: rejection.

She  (we’ll call her Emily) writes: I just got rejected from rushing the sororities at my school, which many of my friends are involved with. to say the least, i feel broken and worthless. my power was taken away from me by a bunch of overly empowered girls. knowing that this same thing happened to you, and inspired your great success, ‘greek tragedy’, I was hoping you might tell me something, with your usual eloquence, that would let me know that this isn’t the end. that it’s possible to still be happy and lead a full life. that you can still have hundreds of boyfriends, good hair, accessorize well, and have friends fondly referred to as Smelly even though you feel tender and defective right now. tell me that the girls who rejected you are now fat and living in tulsa. tell me something to make it okay please.

I respond: Oh Emily, Emily, Emily, look how great a job you did at that cheer up all on your own. You don’t need anyone to tell you you’ll be a success, that you’ll be happy, no one to offer you promises, because just look, look at what you wrote to me. Deep down, or at least intellectually, you know that’s all true. That not being in a sorority will have zero influence on the rest of your life. Emotions, though, man, that’s where it’s hard.

Intellectually you know everything I could tell you, but emotionally you feel like a beat up little girl who wants to sulk and dissect everything for "why"s. Why is the universe singling you out and fucking with you like this? Like I wrote on the blog when it happened to me, LOOK UP. Not cheer up, but look up, realize there is a whole world around you, different options. I know this might sound strange, but stop to think about this for a second: imagine this happened to you on purpose. Not only to make you stronger but maybe to force you to also make new friends, to not rely on an easy system, to force you to grow and leave your familiar boundaries (ones you set for yourself that maybe it’s time to outgrow).

I promise you, five years from now, you will look back at this time and think, "I can’t believe how upset I was over that." Okay, that won’t always be the case. Sometimes you’ll look back and think, "that sucked, but obviously I got over it." Because at the end of the day, rejection just sucks. But it sucks for everyone. If I were you, and I was, I’d turn it around and force a smile and remind myself that I don’t need others to know how awesome I am. Because I know it. And dammit, if I don’t, I’m going to figure out how to know it. I’m going to wake up and decide to do something new, something I’ve never done before. I’m going to make a new friend, to extend myself, offer someone help by going out of my way. Today I’m going to smile to everyone, even if they don’t smile back. Because that’s the beauty of our lives, the ability to change them, to grab hold of them, and live them. Life is too short to still be sulking about it!

And for what it’s worth, the friends of mine who were in sororities ended up dropping out. "What a waste of money. All those dues. And it was all so forced and fake. It’s basically for people who don’t know how to make friends on their own." And also, funny enough, after college, I made friends with a woman (sweet Dulce) who loved her sorority sisters and introduced me to all of them. They’re now some of my closest friends. I’m an honorary Johns Hopkins member of whatever sorority they were all inducted. The point is, you’ll get over this with grace. We don’t get to choose what happens to us, but we can choose how we react to whatever comes our way. Make this an exemplary moment in your life, a time you’ll look back upon and say, "Wow, I’m so proud of how I handled that, with such grace and strength. It was hard for me, but look how I rolled with it, look how well adjusted I was able to be about that." And that will give you strength to face whatever the future might hold.

I hope this helps. I’m posting it on my blog because I think a lot of people need a good pep talk. Because, see, it happens to everyone. The sooner you learn to handle rejection with grace, the better. Because after I dealt with the blow of no sororities wanting me, I dealt with a husband who didn’t want me or the family we’d planned for. So all these rejections are just training us to handle change, to evolve into better, stronger people. It’s what Straight Up and Dirty is all about. And believe it or not, it doesn’t harden you, but it does enable you to realize not only aren’t you alone in any of it, but you’re more compassionate, and are able to bounce back from a blow all the quicker. Not exactly a Tulsa Oklahoma answer, but my truth, just the same.



  1. Um hi Emily, I was in sorority and regretted it. It meant nothing. In fact it made things worse in a way. I was in school in a city that I essentially ignored becaue you become too wrapped up in the trials of greek life. Go out and explore and do and be. There is oodles more to life than date parties. Sitting in your room, studying, and learning in fact is far superior.

  2. What Stephanie said. Life is full of disappointments and rejections. The road to happiness isn't paved with getting what we want or suceeding at everything we do. Happiness comes from appreciating what we actually do have, learning from every experience and the joy of the experiences.

    I didn't get the sorority I wanted, so I didn't go greek. Looking back, those girls knew better than I did. I wasn't like them and that wasn't truly who/what I was meant to be. Not to say that they were bad people. But my point is, life gives you what you need, even if it isn't always what you want. Don't dwell too long on what you WISH you had. Focus your energy on enjoying all that you DO have.

  3. Hi Emily, I too was in a sorority in college. Didn't do much for me. I have a few friends I keep in touch with but it didn;t have a huge impact on my life in college. Get a boyfriend, enjoy life, study hard, look towards your future. Because the future has nothing to do with having been in a sorority this I can promise you!

  4. Hi Emily,

    What a coincidence! Just this morning I was talking to a colleague whose niece was leaving on her semester abroad tonight and I mentioned how much I regretted not taking advantage of that when I was in school. Why didn’t I take advantage of it? B/c I was terrified that I would miss something @ my sorority, fall out of graces somehow. Isn’t that funny, the very group of girls that were supposed to be my sisters, managed to make me feel so insecure? G-d forbid you miss a meeting, a rush event, a formal, a crush party etc. I’m 12 years out of school now, and I still regret not taking advantage of all of the opportunities college offered me b/c I was so wrapped up in sorority life. And the funny thing, out of the 100 or so girls that I’m supposed to be bonded to for life, I only speak to one or two of them, and not that often. My two best friends in the world who are from the same university though, are not “sisters” and I am lucky enough to speak to them almost daily. They have been there for me through everything over the last 12 years. They stood up for me at my wedding, met me at the hospital when my father was ill and love me for who I am. I am blessed to have them.
    College is what you make of it; Stephanie is right, think of this as a wonderful opportunity to explore so many passions. I love her phrase “look up” It’s priceless and poignant.
    You will lead a wonderful life and this will make you stronger. You’ll go on to make so many different diverse friends who will adore you always. This is an opportunity!

  5. Chin up Emily. Same thing happened to me in college. Here's the good part: I completely forgot about it until I read this just now. I haven't thought about it in years. I had an amazing college experience in spite of that rejection, and I would not change a thing.

  6. What a perfect response. I was head of recruitment for all of the sororities for 3 (long) years in college (I didn't do any cuts; I did everything in my power that no one who wanted to be in a sorority would be left out, swear). Still, there were a handful of girls every year who were in Emily's position and, just to underscore what SK said, were no worse for the wear in a few short weeks. It's unfortunately awfully personal-feeling, but I'll have you know that 99% of the girls who got "cross-cut," it was through no fault of any personality flaw but rather silly, stupid things like "not talking to enough people at one 8 minute 'party'" Silly reason for such a huge decision, but feel good about yourself to know that it really has so little to do with you as "Emily."

    One constant thing among all the most well-adjusted girls who didn't get bids – they got involved in something else afterwards. The best thing about college is the little organizations/sports/clubs that get you to meet a whole slew of people you can begin to depend on. The only difference between those & sororities is that sororities don't have any delineated "common interest." And aren't co-ed. So, look, win-win.

    I especially appreciate SK not going into a paragraphs-long tirade about how awful sororities are. They can be lovely things, they can be horrid things; and what a welcome, level-headed balance in the post.

  7. Oh "Emily" how you dodged a bullet! How lucky you are! In my experience (let the hate mail roll people, i am unconcerned with your opinions about my OPINION) the greek system is for all those who are alike. You were not admitted because you are threatening to those who make the decisions. You are beautiful in ways they don't understand therefore, you are not welcome. You are funny in ways they don't get, therefore you must go far away lest others see that you are better, more worthy, and far more interesting than any group of girls that will sit around and wait for the approval of others.
    The greek system demands conformity. The lifestyle consumes all that you are and you are not allowed to deviate from their plans for you. Does that sound like what you want for YOUR life?
    Think about how you are beyond lucky to have the chance to meet all the new and fantastic people in your new classes, in your new dorm, in your new greek-less life.
    Think about all the money you'll save, and all the places you can go whenever you want, and all the boys you can date with no one telling you "oh HIM? well, i mean, whatever, if you want to, i mean i wouldn't but whatever" (which translates into "but I LIKE HIM, but i'm too shallow and selfish to actually lower myself to be honest with you about it so i'd rather make you feel insecure about liking him".
    And trust me, with all the flavors of boys out there…….FRAT BOY should be left off your tasting menu.

  8. Emily: Hang in there. You’ll see that within a year everyone worth knowing will drop out. Disappointment and rejection are hard to deal with; I know. But sometimes you just have to realize that you don’t always know what’s best for you. Trust me on this one.

    Stephanie: I’m finally coming out of the dark – it’s my first ‘greek tragedy” appearance. I’ve been reading your blog for awhile now, and can’t tell you how much I enjoy it. It has become part of my morning ritual. In fact, you inspired me to start my own blog. Thank you.

  9. Hi Emily. I too was rejected from the sororities at my college, including the one where I was not only a legacy but where my friends had urged me to rush and promised I would be chosen. (Sadly, the juniors did not make such a promise, and I had pissed them off for reasons too stupid to elaborate here). It really, really hurt, and it also sucked massively because greek life was really the center of social life at my Southern college.
    It'll be the worst right now, as you watch your friends scamper about in jerseys and costumes to various closed-door parties. But once the initial enthusiasm wears off, I guarantee you will see a number of them experience the same disillusionment that Stephanie and other posters have described. There will always be some gung-ho Suzy Sorority types, but most of my friends recognized the system's inherent meanness and unfairness. By senior year, my friends were paying fines to skip their mandatory parties so we could all head to the bars.
    When I was rejected, it really helped to spend time with my close guy friends, who pretty much could care less. Most of them were in frats, so I never lacked for a social life… I actually went to more dances and formals than most of my friends in sororities. And hopefully your school has more social options, so you can find something new to throw yourself into, at least while your friends are off decorating their pledge books or playing the M&M game.
    And check out the book "Pledged" by Alexandra Robbins; it is all about the sucky side of the sorority system, plus it's a fun, easy read that will make you feel better.
    I know it hurts a lot right now, but you will not only survive it, you will ultimately have better and more meaningful friendships in the future.
    Best of luck!

  10. Emily, I was in a sorority in college, and all it did was expose me to the worst kind of girls. If I wasn't dealing with broken plumbing from the rampant eating disorders in the house (thanks, bulimia), I was scraping some 80lb drunk sophomore off the oriental rug in the living room or fending off a political attack from a vindictive 'sister.' I suppose there are some schools where they bring out the best in people, but mine wasn't one of them. It promoted competition and the kind of nastiness I'd frankly be glad to avoid for the rest of my life. And I'm ashamed to say that to a degree, I participated, and I lost a really close friend.

  11. Emily – go out and find a woman you want to be like. Someone who has a job you covet, a family life you envy. In fact, go find 3 or 4 of them. And then ask them what they'd do differently back in college. I’m willing to bet none of them wish they invested more time in a sorority. I think you’ll hear things like study more, get better internships, and develop hobbies that could generate income later in life. Take some peace in knowing that you are light years ahead of some of these girls. Go make the life you dream of…it does not take place on a floral couch at a required meeting where you keep handing over checks.

  12. Great advice Stephanie! Emily- I suffered through a sorority in college where girls tried to steal each other's boyfriends, engaged in all kinds of eating disorders and drug habits and were generally fake to each other all the time. I spent those 2 years feeling insecure about myself. Looking back on it 8 years later, I'm horrified that I let women who get a kick out of rejecting others based on their wealth, physical appearance or social standing influence the way I felt about myself. So chin up, dear girl- you're not missing much!

  13. hi emily. i didn't go greek for a number of reasons, and my life is absolutely wonderful. like stephanie said, LOOK UP.

    and FYI – tulsa isn't that bad. i grew up there and while i now live in beautiful Austin, i find tulsa rather quaint. :)

  14. I once got over something with Grace. Mmmm, Grace.

    This is a very Zen-like post, Stephanie. Very nice.

  15. My daughter went through this when she was an undergrad. She was not asked to pledge her sorority of choice in the final round because two girls voted to reject her because she was in the marching band her freshman year(which did not fit into their 'profile')! She was devastated at the time, but she ended up having a wonderful college experience with many great friends, and graduated with high honors. She is beautiful, talented, and smart–currently in grad school getting her PhD!! That sorority she so badly wanted to be a part of ended up being just the opposite of what she was looking for–fake personalities more concerned about their clothes and the next party than their grades. There is much fun to be had and growing to do during your college years.–This will happen even without being affiliated with an organization that dictates who your friends must be and requires you to attend constant 'social' events and meetings to prove your dedication to the sisterhood. Emily will feel much better about herself when she realizes that the friends she makes in college will be people that also chose her with no strings attached, instead of paying for the privilege.

  16. hi emily. i WAS in a sorority, a "good" one. and am glad i got to experience it. but it was 85% BS let me tell you that. overall the "sisterhood" was mostly just about making other girls feel inferior so OTHER girls could feel superior (and i'm talking about WITHIN the organization). i was on both sides of that…young and shy and aged quickly into older and bitchier. my sorority was just like the movies. i still feel bad for being so nasty…but i'm sure the girls who were nasty to me don't ever think about it. my point: serioulsy, you don't need that shite. really, go to as many apartment parties as you can! hang out with "regular" college girls…you don't need a dumb sweatshirt with silly letters to give you an identity. seriously! go to poetry readings! plays! and stay away from frat boys with thick necks. heck, stay away from them all. the "friends or (*ahem*) sisters" i made…weren't that at all. in fact i think i knew it at the time, but it was just easier to be a part of that scene. it is in fact cooler, braver (and cheaper) to be indi!! trust me, you'll respect yourself so much more later in life!!! plus you'll have a better chance at enjoying a variety of friends: rather than a group who all look/talk/dress the same.

    i seem to remember people saying it would look good on your resume (being in a sorority)…which i think is HILARIOUS now. within weeks of graduating college i quickly realized that being in a sorority was NOT something you used to sell yourself with (in ANY circles…let alone professional circles).

    the only reason i'd say "try again" is so you can maybe get a taste of it for a semester, and then drop out. it really is a mind-blowing concept: the pledge experience. it's totally fucked up. but i'm so glad i have it to look back on (even though they may be stories that only seep out on accident at this point).

    the only friend i still keep in touch with from "the house" i think we'd have had classes together anyway…and would've met iregardless of our affiliation with all that nonsense.

    in any case: soldier on little one! you can do it!

  17. I was in a sorority in college. For the first year it was ok. I was an only child, never really did the omg bff thing… so it taught me a lot. So anyways, after I got a little more comfortable with ME I realized it was kind of a crutch. They were unhappy with me for doing my own thing… it was almost like they didn't want me to be happy. So fast forward 5 years… I talk to one of my "sisters" regularly. I DO view her as my "sister"… but we both feel some contempt for the house. The rest of the girls? Well, they all still play into the clique stereotype… still exclude me… and it still hurts too. So, just so you know- it wasn't all roses inside the group either. My friends that were independent seem to have made more long lasting and true friendships outside of a frat setting.
    And those girls that decided whether you were in or out- they don't really KNOW you. We seriously had over 100 girls file through each day of rush. You weren't allowed to take pics to help jog memories because it could be viewed as based on looks… so every ones vote depended on the girl who walked you around and how good of a description she gave- that and all the other girls remembering names… It's all a #'s game too.. Sometimes girls don't get chose because it's rumored they want to go elsewhere… sometimes because the house wants to get you during open bidding (aka not rush)… Maybe a little TMI, but just know that your not getting into a sorority is not a reflection of bad character or appearance on your part. In fact, it is just the opposite.

  18. Hi Emily,
    "And for what it's worth, the friends of mine who were in sororities ended up dropping out. "What a waste of money. All those dues." This is so true. I went to BU and everyone I knew who was in a sorority or fraternity quit after a year or two. It was more of a social thing that kind of faded. I know some people join and are lifetime friends, which is great, but that isn't always the case.

    My close friends from home went to school in the midwest and were in the same sorority. About five years ago one of them got married. Her sorority sisters all stood around her and serenaded her with some sorority song. Seriously, I get dumb chills just thinking about it. The whole thing brought an uncomfortable silence to the room. One of my other friends was there and she and I were almost hyperventilati we were laughing so hard. Just strange. Honestly, would you ever want to be a part of that? Lets hope not.

  19. Emily,

    I rushed 3 sororities and got invitations from all three.. and after I became a pledge, guess what!! I didn't enjoy it..

    In fact, I didn't like how it didn't seem to be so much about "friendship" as much as it was about spending money. Money for this activity, money for that activity.. Money for sweatshirts/tshirts/dues..

    They called me for everything!! I know it may sound silly, but I never really had a night to just "chill out." I was constantly getting phone calls to come do this and come do that.. and feeling guilty when I just didn't want to go.

    Being in a sorority becomes your whole life.. Maybe you would have enjoyed that, but to be honest.. it upset me that their whole world was sorority activities and not much else. I found it miserable!!

    I'm 26 now and have to tell you that being in a sorority actually had a negative impact on my real priorities.. I regret all the time and effort put into it.

  20. Just a comment to everyone putting down the greek system here. I just want to say that I attended the same school as Stephanie and I did end up rushing and being a part of the greek system (which was extremely small and, at least when I attended school, was not highly looked upon by most students). It wasn't anything great, I did make some nice friends, but most of my friends were not members of the greek community. My advice to Emily is this: your life isn't over, in fact it's just beginning! But don't alienate your friends who are part of the greek system. They may decide it's not for them, and lean on you for support. Keep an open mind, even though at times it may seem extremely difficult to do so. Treat everyone you meet, girls in sororities and those who aren't, just the same. I know that I felt negatively judged by most people at school because of my affiliation with the greek system, and the sad part is that I really don't live up to any of those stereotypes. Life is so much more than that, and after freshman year of college nobody really cares about whether you were in a sorority or not!

  21. O How I wish I could help you fast forward through this… I chose not to go Greek, but went through the same thing when all my "close" friends did… you will have some of the most exciting/scary times while you are in school, covet the friends you meet, appriciate everyone for their differences and have FUN… find other clubs you can join to network or even get a part time job in the community… I was a bartender and it was the best networking tool ever… I met everyone! Just think… a couple years down the road put yourself in a position or job where they will need you! It never hurts to work your way up and be a president of a deciding comitee! Have fun girl… one day at a time…

  22. Emily,

    When I experience stress, disappointment, pain, etc… in my life I always ask myself the following: "Is this going to matter in a month, a year, ten years, or anywhere in my future?" The answer is almost always "NO!" This is small stuff and I'm willing to bet that you're a great girl who is going to go on to lead a very full life while in collge.

    You will not care about any of these girls or their clubs in a month…I guarantee it.

  23. Nice post and well said :) The only thing I'd add is what also helps me to work through the emotions – If you're sad, cry. Let it out. Tell them out loud (not really, of course, but in the privacy of your own place) how it makes you feel to be rejected. Then let yourself be angry if you feel like it – go to a kickboxing class, scream in a pillow or punch it…whatever gets that out. Then remind yourself you're wonderful and treat yourself that way – take care of yourself, have fun and enjoy life and what you bring to the world.

  24. Emily, you're right. Five years from now they'll all be overweight busybodies trying to bully their peers at whatever parent teacher organisation is unfortunate enough to have them.


  25. Emily, I went to a college in the South that is very greek oriented. I didn't get asked to join the sorority I wanted either. For a while I was jealous of my friends that were going to band parties, swaps, formals, etc… Then I joined some other organizations on campus and met some really great people. I had the freedom to do what I wanted. While I was at the Wed night wine tastings downtown, my "sorority" friends got fined for missing chapter to go with me. I got to party with the football team while my friends in sororities spent most of their Sat nights tagging along after their "game day" frat boy date (that is if he wasn't passed out by then). My summers were never cut short to come back to campus to be miserably stuck in a sorority house with 150 other girls singing the same silly door song during rush week. After a while, the new wears off and all those things that seemed so fun…were more of a hassle than anything. Ironically, my little sister came to college a few years after me and pledged that exact sorority I had wanted so bad. We were roommates, so I got to know and am friends with some of her sorority sisters. Out of over 100 she still keeps up with maybe 5 of her sorority sisters. After the first year, my sister realized it wasn't quite so much fun anymore. It cost my parents a lot money for my sister to be in the sorority and then she was constantly paying fines for skipping events so she could do things SHE wanted to do. Greek life is not for everyone. Ten years, an undergrad and law degree later, I wouldn't change one thing about my college experience. Sure, I still keep up with some of my friends that were in sororities but I have twice as many friends that I probably would have never met if I had pledged. I promise your college life will be great. Get involved in some things that interest you, meet new people, go out and have fun. Get dressed up and get out of that dorm or apartment, "LOOK UP" and get ready for the experiences of a lifetime.

  26. To continue in the vein of the poster who regretted not studying abroad….

    STUDY ABROAD! It will open your eyes more and introduce you to far more lifelong friends than a sorority EVER could.

    And you'll probably save some money, too. I mean it. STUDY ABROAD.

  27. This couldn't have come at a better time for me. Last week during my annual review I was told that my work is "off" and that I should look for another job. This is a career that I spent nearly $100K and 3 years of schooling to obtain so, needless to say, I am quite devastated. I keep trying to tell myself that someday (hopefully soon!) I'll look back and realize that my company did me a favor, but right now it's hard to imagine that. Thanks for the pep talk – much appreciated!

  28. I went to a large, prestigious university in a major city where sorority/fraternity life was virtually nonexistent. (Full disclosure: there were a few houses that were for African-American students only, and I don't blame them for wanting to organize on an overwhelmingly white campus.) From what I heard from friends at other schools, Greek life was even worse than quaint; it sounded juvenile, unsophisticated and mean — a couple of steps below religious cults. Why anyone would spend several years devoted to a sorority when they could be fully engaged in campus life, studying abroad, planning a career, working at an internship, making and enjoying all kinds of friends and, most of all, concentrating on their studies, I'll never understand. My friends don't even keep in touch with their old "sisters."

    Emily, you dodged a bullet. Rejection hurts and it sucks, but each time you develop the inner resources and stamina you need to get past it — not to mention compassion and empathy for others. Consider this part of your college education, and go out and make your life great!

  29. I've seen both sides of "Emily's" story. I rushed twice, first time completely rejected by every single sorority during my fall freshman year (I did not cut a single one, they all cut me!) and second time, a year later and a year wiser and got to cut all those sororities (with the exception of the one with all my "best friends" from my freshman dorm) who cut me. Freshman year was hard not having this "thing" that everyone else I knew did, and I considered transfering over it. But freshman year is a hard adjustment anyway. I came from a place so different than the college/greek world I found that I needed the time to grow into it. Maybe it's the same for you or maybe it was vindictive. Likely not vindicitive unless it's a small greek system. For me, I had to grow into my personality and be able to showcase it in a two minute meeting with strangers.

  30. This is why Abigail is so lucky. She'll get advice like this all the time. You have changed so much and it shows. Not 'changed for the better' just grown.

    I think it's really great all of the thoughtful answers readers are giving here too.

  31. Individuality must run in our family. When I was in college I was rejected from the sorority of my choice. Rather than join another just for the sake of joining, I opted to go independent. Frankly, my mother thought I was nuts & that I would miss out on so many social opportunities. Not! I had my own circle of friends, did interesting things aside from the weekly sorority/fraternity parties I would have had to attend, and not for one second did I regret my choice. When the time came for our sons to enter college they felt no pressure to join. Although he was courted by a number of fraternities, the older one chose not to join. Our younger son joined what was thought of as the leading fraternity on campus. Within a year he deactivated because he felt it was a waste of money and enhanced his life not a whit. His best friend, who's his best friend to this day, also deactivated.

    Emily, treasure your independence, enjoy the world outside of the Greek system. There are endless possibilities for you just waiting to be savored.

  32. Great advice Stephanie. Maybe you should be a therapist in your spare time. As if you have spare time! Do you ever get any sleep?

    FROM STEPHANIE: Yeah, kinda busy lately. We haven't had a nanny, or babysitter even, since December 7. I need to start getting out more. I'm always in the house with them because it's so much easier than loading (and unloading) them into the car.

  33. I too got rejected from all the "cool" sororities on campus. We only had four, so it really sucked. I did get a bid to the "worst" one, but only because they were new and needed to reach a quota. I knew I only wanted one, so I didn't pay much attention in the other three during RUSH. But, they made such a big deal at the bid matching not to "suicide" and only put down one, that I just put down all four. Because I got into one and rejected the bid, it made me ineligable to go through RUSH again for another whole year. That put me as a JUNIOR. The whole experience was mortifying.

    But- I totally get how anyone rejected feels. It sucked, I didn't know what I did wrong…and worse, my roommate/best friend made me promise that neither of us would pledge if the other didn't get in, convinced I would get in and she wouldn't. Turned out she did get in, I didn't, and she pledged anyway. I wasn't angry because I knew she "needed" it more than I did. I knew I'd make other friends and get over it.

    Turned out, once she got in, she eventually got me to go through RUSH again, the year later, and I did get in. Totally different crowd by that time. I liked my sorority, but I still maintained my life OUTSIDE it.

    I disagree with other people's assessments that it's buying friends, everyone in it are clones, and any other stereotype. Just like with anything else, it is what you make of it- but for those rejected, the key is just not to make too much of it. You can have close friends in any circle or make your own new circle- you don't need a sorority to have a life, friends, and fun. I did it in the end because I knew I was on the five year plan, my friends were to graduate before me, and I thought this would be the best way to meet more people who would be around at a small suitcase school where I didn't have a car….

  34. Stephanie and Stepheney had some great advice about this.

    What I wonder is WHY anyone wants to be part of such a (usually) exclusive, snobby bunch of bitch girls? And why it's so upsetting not to be chosen.

    Don't live your life giving a shit about what a bunch of neurotic girls with low self-esteem think.

    Be independent and make people like that want to know what YOU have that is so attractive and magnetic.

    Don't fret a STRAND of hair over this. Not worth it.

  35. Just like you ignored my inputs on the USO, I expect you to disgregard this post….you seem to be increasingly posting emails that make you look like a saint or "OPRAH" which is the exact OPPOSITE of why I fell in love with your site to begin with!!! Please stop sucking up to the commercial crowd because I get more and more less likely to buy your next book every time that you do the "feel your innner power" OPRAH thing. I fully understand that you will NEVER post this, it is for you alone…as my USO (military spouse) input was. :)

  36. I know much of what I think has already been said, but I do have to add just a few tidbits as a fellow sorority reject.

    1. Figure out what you love about sororities and duplicate it. I loved having girlfriends around, so I found roommates and lived in a nine-bedroom house with girlfriends off campus. We were free to bring boys home, didn't have mandatory meetings, and even made silly door signs and pictures with a pretend sorority emblem.

    2. I also loved parties, so we threw our own. Trust me, after a short while frat boys, athletes, cool girls in your class are looking for something other to do than hang out on Greek Row. Drinking and theme parties are not restricted to those that wear letters.

    3. I COMPLETELY reiterate the study abroad suggestion. I still email with people I spent a quarter in Greece with five years later, and it bonds you in many of the same ways.

    You don't need anyone's permission to do the things that you enjoy. I even lived in a fraternity house for two summers (they rented them out while classes were down on our campus) and got all the fun of being involved without the expense! I also had friends in the Greek system. Just as it doesn't make you less of a person to be independent, it doesn't make them any less either.

  37. I love this post and agree that this isn't just about sororities or Emily but about life in general and its many disappointments. You roll with the punches, learn what you can from the experience, and come out the other end a stronger and better person. I've cut and pasted this post into a Word doc so I can reflect on it later when I've encountered rejection post-sorority life.

    And for what it's worth, I agree with many here. Greek life is not a college must-do. I did the sorority thing for a year after being rejected my freshman year. Should have stayed independent because I found even then that it was all a joke. The rituals, secret knocks, meetings … stupid. I hope my 3 daughters don't join sororities when they're in college. There is so much more for them to take from their college experience than the Greek life. Study abroad! I did, and wish I'd had the chance to do it twice.

    Thanks Stephanie. And Emily, it's obvious you're a smart young woman. You'll be as fabulous 20 years from now as you are today.

    I can now start my day. I'm ready for rejection!

  38. After reading all of these awful stories about sororities I HAD to chirp in with my own 2 cents. I joined Zeta Tau Alpha my sophomore year of college and to this day, 10 years later, it is still the best decision I ever made. I was surrounded by the smartest, most "with it" girls on campus. I am still best friends with my entire pledge class. All whom are married to amazing men and they all have fulfilling jobs and lives. Of course, if I was not lucky enough to receive a bid I'm sure I would have found my way, but these girls made it so fun and memorable I could not imagine it without them. Thanks! Looked as though this entire post was putting down sororities and I wanted to put a different perspective out there.

  39. Greek life isn't all bad, like I think a lot of people say it is. It can be superficial, but it can also be a lot of fun if you don't take it all too seriously. I still have BEST FRIENDS from my time in a sorority at University of Florida… and we all joke that we're all the best friends money could buy. I chose to rush as a sophomore, which I feel enriched my experience. If "Emily" is only a freshman, I urge her to do her thing her first year, join other clubs, and re-evaluate what she wants from college after that. Life/college is too short to be too involved in what others think of you.

  40. Long time reader, second time responder, great post, Stephanie. Pure magic in those fingers on your keyboard today, so common sense and aptly put.

    Emily, my sweet girl, life is a far bigger book than this one hurtful and hopeful chapter. Resiliency, along with keeping a bounce in your step will march you onwards, upwards and away from those small minded people who didn't notice what we all have witnessed in your declarative writing. You're a gem and your real shine is in the making now not the acceptance of those cubic zirconia templates.

  41. Christine- I too was in ZTA and my experience was fine. I'm not BFF with my pledge class or with too many girls from then. But, the three I did stay friends with were all in my wedding last year (I'm 33) and I would have NEVER met them had I not been in ZTA. We just weren't in the same circles prior to being in the house. I had a great experience, and I'm as "Damn the Man" as they come. I didn't need to conform to anything, there was no "groupthink"…there were definitely people more "into it" than I was….but mostly, everyone just sort of did their thing, be it super-involved or just on the fringe.

    I think sorority life VASTLY differs depending on what kind of school it is, how big/small, etc. At some schools greek life seems like EVERYTHING and at other schools, not so much. People at my small private liberal arts school in the northest definitely did NOT take it as seriously as what I read in Pledged or saw on 90210.

    This post by SK was great because it was how to deal with disappointment, and rejection….and when it seems like the biggest thing in the world. Now, it's become a bash sorority post by a lot of haters and people who have no idea what they're talking about. That sucks.

  42. Everyone has to learn this lesson. It's just a harder lesson for some than others.

    I was a part of the popular crowd in Middle and High School. It wasn't until my senior year of High School that I realized, I didn't like my (so called) friends, being their friend was work, and I could not trust them. If I had not wanted to be popular, I NEVER would have chosen to spend time with these people.

    I didn't even attempt to join a sorority in college and it had nothing to do with fear of rejection. Historically, I had almost always been accepted by the popular crowd. However, I had emotionally grown and realized that I wanted quality, not quantity.

  43. I ended up dropping out of the sorority I was in too and it was my mom's legacy. These girls actually scolded me for not telling them it was my mom's legacy and wanting to get in on my own merits.
    They tried to get more money from me and I told them to shove it up their ass.
    Sororities can be beneficial if you're a person who is in a new town and need to make friends and connections, but overall, the price of it is just ridiculous and not worth it if you ask me.
    *waves to Stephanie*

  44. From all I've heard, sorority life is overrated. From what I KNOW, living in Tulsa is underrated! Methinks a little perspective is in order.

  45. Emily: Listen to Lori. So many girls go through each house during rush, the entire process is so incredibly far from personal that it's a wonder that any women end up in houses that "match" their interests, their likes and dislikes. Many many women are rejected for bids out of hand because of rumors that other houses are bidding for them and so they don't need any more bids or that they will only take a bid from House A or House B.
    I accepted a bid from a sorority I did not want because a good friend of mine accepted a bid there as well. I did not then and do not now regret it, but it was a bigger pain in the rear end than I had expected it to be. And you have to remember that you don't get to escape or be dismissive of the women you dislike or despise that are in your house. You have to put up with them. Wouldn't you rather be in a position to remove yourself from the company of women you don't care for or who make you uncomfortable? To not feel pressured in myriad ways to rearrange your schedule and sometimes your priorities?
    Perhaps for you this doesn't have to be a sad thing, perhaps it's a saving grace! Good luck with your college career, have fun, be free.

  46. Hey! Well, I’m a freshman in college this year and this post really helped me cope. I was just rejected two days ago from the sorority of my choice. It made me feel like a loser, not as important, and that i couldn’t live up to the standards of those girls.I was not pretty enough. I was not good enough. I now realize, it wasn’t as personal as I believed it to be. Thank you.

  47. I’ve been reading your blog for years, often finding comfort in your words, thinking “I’ve been there!” Nothing was so “I’VE BEEN RIIIIGHT THERE” until I read the post you referred to here.
    Yup, I too got rejected (what a horrible word) from all the sororities I rushed.

    I have never told a soul. I just chose to pretend it never happened and moved on. I realized that in trying to fit in with each sorority and their distinct traits, I was never my true self. Did they see through me? Who knows. Either way, I wouldn’t have it any other way. I made a great group of close friends and loved college.

    10 yeard later, that is such a distant memory–in fact it never crosses my mind. Like you said, Stephanie– there’s a whole world around you. Embrace it.

  48. What a great topic to address. I was in a sorority in college and was HORRIFIED when I volunteered to be a rush counselor and saw for myself how even my own sorority picked or dropped girls based on superficial or mean-spirited things when 2 of the sweetest, smartest girls in the rush group I was in charge of – got dropped from all the houses (not to mention they had above average grades). They both had friends in numerous houses on campus and couldn’t understand why their friends wouldn’t help get them in…

    I was so disillusioned with the process I almost dropped my membership but was able to make my feelings known in our chapter meeting that next week. I don’t think I changed everyone’s minds on how to vote for future members but I am sure my rant opened more than a few people’s eyes.

    What I want to say to sweet Emily is this – I was in that voting room in my sorority for 2 years and saw when the decisions were made on who did or didn’t get in and many a time it came down to jealousy or a blackball situation from a current member that felt threatened by the potential member’s entry into “her” situation. Maybe they competed in high school for grades, the same role in the play, the same boy, the same friends…I would get so angry but the group had to go with the one person who made a stink because picking your “sister” had to happen before you picked someone outside the house. It wasn’t a choice, it was the rule. We had a term for it and once the opposing member used it, there was no more arguing for the rushee. It made me frustrated and irritated many a time but it was and more than likely is the way the system of voting someone in or out is run.

    I would say that the best thing to do is move on and let it go. Go out there and meet people from all areas of your college campus. You will be able to pick and choose your friends from all walks of life. My girlfriends outside the house were plenty and I found they had a better experience with the whole greek thing because they went to all the functions, not just the ones sponsored by their own house.

    Sadly, this is a lesson learned early by you nice girls. Women continue to do this type of thing to each other throughout life. Just seek out the sincere people. My Mom always said quality, not quantity when it came to friends. It’s so true.

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