Archives for January 2015

Sorority Rushing

small_85271515Strokes your ego or kicks you to the curb?

I don’t believe in absolutes, not viewing the world as black and white but weighing different shades of grey I was open to my daughter’s foray into rushing for a sorority. It wasn’t as though I didn’t have an opinion, I wasn’t crazy about it, yet I didn’t have enough ammunition of my own to burn out the fire. I went to a college that was void of  Greek life and if they did I likely wouldn’t have been a part of it. I prefer to make my own friends and they don’t need to be connected to each other. The herd mentality did not seem to appeal to my daughter in high school but freshman year has been going great with good friends who were all rushing.

She shopped for new clothing and was genuinely excited. I listened and suggested some Google searches in case she wanted to delve more. She was beginning to sound like she was repeating the party line when she advised me to “trust the process.” I was proud; she recounted interviews where she shared her love of photography, art major, high school yearbook skills and work experience. I believed the interviewing stage was a worthwhile endeavor. Disappointment started early, after visiting 12 houses she was asked back to six, some of her friends were asked back to nine and some three houses. She felt she had good conversations with two of the houses and had already developed some favorites. The next step she was asked back by two and she texted me letting me know she was dropping stating,“It’s not worth my time unless I love it.” She did not feel either house suited her. Her friends were continuing on in the process. She seemed fine but I could sense she wasn’t. I personally thought that it may not be for her but she went for it and for that I give her credit.

Now the hard part, she began to question the process, “How could they make a judgment about me after a five minute conversation?” The whole “speed dating” mentality started to bring her down. She questioned her looks, her intelligence – the rejection was a blow to the ego. She was the first one of her five close friends to leave, three more would follow. It was hard for her; the school was abuzz with excitement. College was beginning to feel like high school, where impenetrable groups were the norm. While I believe many women do have wonderful experiences as members of a sorority the process indisputably either strokes your ego or kicks you to the curb. How can women do this to each other? Surely, there has to be a better way. She began to see how superficial it all was. Additionally, girls were advised that it was very rare not to be offered a bid which turned out to be untrue as many girls were left without bids.

Her freshman dorm, morphed overnight into a hotbed of drama, whispering, crying, hysteria as some girls experienced their first rejection. Many pondered what they were lacking or did wrong as the process you are supposed to “trust” does not provide feedback.

So this week, the new sorority sisters at her school ran through the streets and dorms celebrating their bid. The celebratory mood overshadowed bruised egos, strained friendships and for some heartbreak.

While all will fall back to place again and those not chosen will find other paths and those who eventually pledge may find happiness, the process should be questioned by all young women. I found this quote from a wonderful article titled, “Why Sorority Recruitment Is Horrible And Needs To Change” written by a woman who breezed through recruitment just to find out when she was on the other side how debasing recruitment can be:

“…why do we have a selection system that forces such incredible women to judge and reject other women almost arbitrarily? Why do organizations based on sisterhood pick their members in a way that destroys the confidence of so many young women? We should be encouraging and welcoming new women, not sorting them based on high school activities and 20-minute conversations, tossing many out along the way. Sorority recruitment has become a rigid, overly-structured, needlessly stressful numbers game. You can’t explain “quota” and what Nationals expects for your chapter to a PNM who can’t understand why, after what she thought was a great conversation, she wasn’t asked back. We say things like, “…really, don’t take it personally–they don’t know you after one conversation,” but none of it matters to a young woman who feels as if she’s been told, “We don’t want you.” Women are still fighting for equal rights and equal pay in this world–the very last thing college women should do is tear down new college women.”

photo credit: <a href=”“>Joe_Focus</a> via <a href=”“>photopin</a> <a href=”“>cc</a>



Watching My Son ‘Go-Go’

IMG_0198Sixteen is a swooping comet of happiness, acceptance, irreverence, doubt, fear, rage and honesty.

There is female dialogue for 16. Parties, glitz and glamour although anyone who has known a 16-year-old girl will attest that sweet is an oxymoron. The age is a struggle for independence, acceptance and poorly applied makeup. What about boys? I’ve recently read some beautiful essays about ages and what they represent and I’ve decided to explore feelings about my son growing up and moving on.

We’ve gone from wide-eyed orbs casting a happy glow to grunts and an occasional smirk. I still see him dipping French fries in pools of ketchup with his friends at his side. He was always jumping, leaping, grabbing for something he thought was too far but not far enough for limbs on springs. The world was intoxicating and waiting for his introspection. His physical abilities were complimented by an imagination caught on fire by words. This was a child who wanted to speak and created his own vocabulary, until the cognitive abilities kicked in. He named items based on function, a ball was called “go-go” thrilling him with how it traveled unfettered and sometimes unstoppable. I remember laughter, starting as young as several months when he watched his sister run around the house, pure joy at the notion of being fluid and free. Every adventure from pogo sticks, riding bikes to drawing with chalk was embraced with gusto. Blowing bubbles on a sunny afternoon, adopting a dog, rescuing a kitten – his eyes danced with freedom and joy.

Until his mind caught up with his body, he was free to dream and roadblocks were nonexistent. As school became more like school, there were flickers of self-doubt, usually dampened by achievement, but still lingered in the air. At times, spears of his peers would reignite doubt, leaving flying embers. Yet, success and praise were his elixir. Art, writing, thinking, learning quickly and the ability to sit and concentrate made him an endeared student. He discovered books and characters and learned about the power of escape. Grade school innocence swooned in my head and clouded my vision for the tsunami ahead.

The first two years of middle school brought the calm before the storm. The smile was still there, going in a boy and leaving for high school not quite a child or a man. Hormones lurked in the shadows, snipers, ready to attack. He met disappointment and injustice head on, little pieces of his innocence chipped away. His smile eclipsed, tucked inside for occasional appearances, replaced by reluctance, doubt and fear frosted with sarcasm. I could see the boy inside, trapped by influences I could neither control nor stop. The world was moving, forging ahead and I want those orbs to look at me again and smile. I wait. Sixteen is a swooping comet of happiness, acceptance, irreverence, doubt, fear, honesty and rage. I’m no longer infallible and he’s found out I never was. This time 16 is slipping away, leaving me with every step from learning to drive, taking the SAT, girls and college ahead. Sixteen doesn’t have time for me. I tell myself he shouldn’t have time for me. I capitulate and hope to see his mouth move in upward sweeps to greet me.

He once told me, “Mommy if you die, I would cry but I can’t cry forever.” There was wisdom at three, the sense to know that life would roll along and picking up the pieces would be necessary for survival. I loved being his epicenter, he would wait for me, when I went out, telling his grandfather that he needed to sit by the window and watch for me. He would worry about me when I was out shopping, while I grabbed moments of solitude and freedom. We have switched places. I worry now, wondering how I can stave off the darkness he will encounter knowing full well he will “go-go” no matter what I do and he’s already on his way.

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