If you had asked me two years ago if I ever thought I would join a sorority, I would have answered with a resounding "no." Little combat boot-wearing, goofy theater kid Lauren would have told you she was going to art school in the Northeast, and she would do just fine there all by herself, painting on walls and trying to make a difference.
It is 2014, and as I enter my sophomore year at the University of Texas and in Delta Gamma, I am so happy I didn't listen to her.
The summer after graduating high school is one of the most exciting, restless and transformative summers of your life. For me, it was a time to define what was most important to me during my time at college - and that can be pretty intimidating! When I decided to attend UT, I knew for certain that I wanted several things out of my college experience:
A challenging, rewarding education
A creative community
A place to call home
Even though these are pretty simple things, I learned I couldn't find them on my own, especially at a school as big as UT. For a lot of my high school friends, choosing to go through sorority recruitment was a no-brainer. But for me, it was a big step. Even though I come from a family full of wonderful sorority women, I was afraid of all the negative stereotypes being true. No joke - I would lay in bed at night, picturing an army of screaming Elle Woods lookalikes marching towards me in a hot pink tornado and I was so terrified (even though I love Legally Blonde, don't hate). Really, I was just afraid of being misjudged, misunderstood or ignored. I was scared I wouldn't be good enough.
But when I arrived on my first day of recruitment, I realized I was surrounded by tons of other girls in the exact same position as me (and not just because we were standing in 99 degrees wearing khakis and matching T-shirts). We were all just searching for a place to call our home, where we could be comfortable, happy and unapologetically ourselves for the next four years. And I think that's really what everyone wants.
Being in a sorority has not only fulfilled, but exceeded the expectations I set for my college years. And surprise: the negative stereotypes are 100% not true. Take it from me, I promise I worried about them much more than I should have. In Delta Gamma I have found:
A group of intelligent, motivated students who challenge each other to pursue a rewarding education, expand their horizons, and learn new things every day.
A place to be artistic, silly, outgoing and curious while being surrounded by women who support and encourage each other's creative endeavors, whatever they may be.
Lifelong friendships with some of the most genuine girls I think I will ever have the privilege of knowing.
My new home: a place where I can still wear combat boots, paint on walls, be goofy, but also be an active member of a community that values philanthropy and education over anything else.
So to those of you about to go through recruitment, to those of you who are unsure about college or friends or life: don't pay attention to the stereotypes, the rumors, or any exaggerations. Just remember to be truly, unapologetically yourselves, and the rest will take care of itself.
Good luck and HAVE FUN!