Pink Is Not My Favorite Color

Once upon a time, as a little freshman trying to find her niche in college life, I decided to attend an informal recruitment event for an all-women’s organization on campus. Yes, I am the member of a National Panhellenic Council sorority. Does it surprise you? Did you expect to see a blonde, baby blue-eyed sorority girl in a pink, low-cut cashmere sweater sitting behind the words on your screen?

Well if you did, shame on you, because I’m not any of those things (and I don’t even own anything cashmere). For the last 3+ years I’ve been an active member and leader of my sorority, holding two separate Exec Board positions and having experience on the campus Panhellenic Council. Believe me when I say that this bitch has beenĀ involved.

Perhaps you’re wondering how in the world a nerdy, shy, nonathletic, nonsmoking and nondrinking, former band-geek got wrapped up in the Greek system – which is infamous for bitchiness, alcohol poisoning, and general catty skankity (and that applies to both the men and women). The only one of those criteria I had down-pat was the bitchiness, which I was trying to quell for the sake of making new friends. I won’t lie and say that I was lured to the initial event by the promise of sisterhood and manicure parties. Rather, I was tempted into going by this kinda-sorta-maybe gigantic crush on a femme bisexual girl who had announced the event at several of the introductory meetings of clubs I was trying to join (among them the Science Fiction/Fantasy Club, and our campus LGBT advocacy group). Not to mention, at least 1/3 of my female hallmates (including my roommate) had gone through the formal recruitment (rush) process and most had accepted invitations to join (bids). I was jealous, I’ll admit. My roommate was ecstatic about her new sisters and when she started hanging up her chapter’s letters on the wall, I was even more determined to see what the fuss was all about.

I still remember exactly what I wore to the sorority house that night. Draped purple shirt, skinny jeans (which was a huge step for me, as I hadn’t ever had the courage to wear them before college, too afraid I’d look like a land whale), and bright red flats. At the recruitment party, I was greeted by a 5-foot-nothing black girl with a huge, bright, and genuine smile who bounced a little when she introduced herself as the Recruitment Director. I didn’t have the slightest clue what that meant, but I smiled and nodded all the same.

I talked to a lot of women that night (one of whom would eventually become my Big Sister), though if you’d asked me their names I’d only be able to rattle off a few. I went home excited and more happy than I’d been in a long time. It was honestly the most I’d ever talked to people I barely knew for such a long period of time. Was it awkward? Yeah, a couple of times when the conversation lulled, but as long as someone brought up Twilight (which was just getting really huge at the time) there was always something to talk about.

I received a bid the next evening and accepted immediately. I’d already discussed the possibility of joining with my parents mom and it was established that I’d have to pay my own way. When I accepted my bid, I really honestly had no idea what I was getting into…

I had no idea that my sorority’s colors were pink and white.

I had no idea how much it would cost.

I had no idea that my chapter was unpopular on campus.

I had no idea what “sisterhood” meant.

I had no idea that it would be the best decision of my life.

No, I’m not kidding. Being a sorority girl has been the most influential part of my development as a young woman. I’ve learned how to speak in front of large groups, how to plan social events, how to mediate problems, how to manage and construct an organization’s budget, not to mention I’ve found a large pool of women from which to pick my bridesmaids one day…

My mom once said, “Of all of my daughters, you are the last one I would have expected to join a sorority.” I really think that’s a testament to how lucky I was to find a chapter where I felt at home.

Being a “sorority girl” doesn’t mean I go out to frat parties and get schwastey-faced until I end up in some dude’s bed. It also definitely doesn’t mean that I judge everyone by their appearance and the brand name of their shoes. I did not pay to have these friends (being Treasurer really opens your eyes to just how much money is essential to running any organization). Some of the stereotypes of sororities can be entirely true, but I firmly believe you can’t judge us until you’ve spent some time around us, maybe even living with us. My chapter, though small and struggling a bit in terms of membership, is full of vibrant and beautiful women who put their heart and soul into loving and supporting one another. I’m proud to be a part of an organization that will love me for life, no matter where I go or what I end up doing. I’m still me, just me as a part of something interconnected and special.

And my favorite color is still green.

Incurable State of Being (?)

So, I have a problem. I admit that there is something in my life which I have little or no control over. This is a condition for which there is no medical treatment. It’s something I have to conquer personally, for you see…

I am a bitch.

Don’t worry, I’m not alone. Many women (and men) suffer from a similar affliction. But I, my friends, am a survivor. I will not let this diagnosis bring me down!

What I’m really trying to say is that bitchiness, being overbearing, even straight up bossiness is a disease of the heart. It gets into your system through poor parental mirroring, insecurity, and a cynical worldview and firmly takes root as a result of a constant need to feel more powerful than others.

Strong, independent women are often accused of being bitches, but in reality, that’s impossible because strong, independent women do not suffer from the insecurities that overtly bitchy women do. I want you to understand that being a strong, independent woman is exactly what I want to be, and being a bitch is not helping me get there.

So I’ve made myself a to-do list. I do well with lists.

1) Take a look at my bucket list I made so long ago to remember why I wanted to do all of those things and figure out whether or not they are still important to me.

2) Scrap and rewrite bucket list.

3) Read all of The Lost Art of Listening by Nichols (surprisingly helpful, as self-help books go)

4) Turn my phone off – for more than 60 seconds

5) Write here more

6) RELAX

Last night, I was told that I need to learn to let things go. I think what that means is that I need to learn to relax. I feel an overwhelming desire every moment of my life to live up to an arbitrary standard that is both amorphous and exponentially growing. I’ll never be able to reach it simply because if I keep attaining one level after another, it’ll just keep increasing to god-like proportions. And I’m enough of a bitch now, imagine if my standards for myself where that high! No. What I need is to just get happy with myself and what I CAN do.

Which is where the last and most important item on my to-do list comes in:

7) Rediscover my personal identity

No one can be happy without a good, coherent concept of themselves. So I’ve accepted the fact that I’m a bitch. In order to change that, to become a strong independent woman that won’t take bullshit from anyone, I have to understand myself. It’s a difficult proposition! Do I even want to change? Being a bitch has its advantages, namely: no one fucks with you. But there’s a way to let people know you aren’t meant to be fucked with, without demeaning the identities of all around you.

Recently I was in my sorority house and heard a sister crying loudly downstairs. My first reaction was one of rage and protection. I came downstairs and quietly asked another sister, “Whose shit do I need to fuck up?” That is one of those moments in which I felt, not like a terrible bitch who just wanted destroy a source of discomfort, but an invincible protector of my friend’s emotions. It was a natural reaction, not something I had to conjure out of thin air in an attempt to get some validation. It was real.

I have to realize that I can be powerful without exerting power over others. I can have a personal understanding of how beautiful I am without flaunting it and fishing for compliments. I don’t need to recognition, as long as I get it from myself. What a happy world I could live in if my life was lived for the pleasure of my own personal validation.

Moral of the story: be a Catwoman, not a Poison Ivy

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