Sam Chat: What Joining a Sorority Taught Me About Comfort Zones
As an Alumni helping out during recruitment at Pref night for my chapter, I was asked why I picked Alpha Phi. Trust me when I say in the least self-fulfilling way that I think my response could be helpful and relatable to anyone, no matter if you’re thinking about this blog post in terms of a sorority, job opportunity, or any new experience. I told the young freshman standing in front of me that I honestly chose Alpha Phi because when I was going through recruitment, I saw a part of myself in these girls that maybe I didn’t have the confidence to be yet, and that scared me. But I also knew that it scared me because I wanted it, because it felt right, and because I knew it was time to push myself out of my comfort zone. I will forever be grateful for that decision because it has made me grow as a person, as an entrepreneur, and as a creative. I recognize that many people have had different experiences with the Greek system, some good and some bad, but this is my experience and I’d love to share what I learned from it.
If you’re reading this as a girl who might go through recruitment but you don’t know if it’s right for you (yet wandering campus alone and having two close friends who you don’t see very often also doesn’t feel right) this is for you.
If you’re reading this because you would “never” join a sorority or risk being judged for it— I’d love for you to read this, so you have a chance to see the Greek system from the perspective of someone that once had the same outlook as you.
And If you’re reading this because you’ve stood in my shoes—this is also for you so we can celebrate this journey we’ve been through.
Backstory: If you only knew…
I was a transfer to California State University, Northridge and pretty comfortable with my life as it was. I was excited about starting in the screenwriting program and finally being at a University that felt right for my needs. Two years prior I had transferred from Cal Poly San Luis Obispo because they didn’t have a film program or the major of screenwriting that I knew I truly wanted but it felt right this time around at CSUN. I was happy to see my lifelong high school friends whenever I could, but most of them didn’t live so close to me anymore. My other best friend was my boyfriend of 6 years but going into my senior year of college, our breakup kind of rocked my world. There was nothing that could’ve prepared me for feeling so not “me.” Everything going into my senior year was different: From where I lived ( I moved into an apartment) to making new friends.
I had been around a few girls that joined sororities, but I was convinced for years that it wasn’t for me. I watched my roommate freshman year go through recruitment and even my mom was in a sorority for a short period of time, but I was the girl that would say, “You couldn’t pay me to be in a sorority.” To be honest, I 100% judged girls that were in sororities. Why would I “pay for friends?” Why would I get “hazed?” Why would I want to be a part of something so exclusive? Now I look back and think if you only knew. And that’s the thing, I just didn’t know. You don’t pay for friends, you definitely don’t get hazed, and it’s not something exclusive, rather it’s something so sacred between sisters once you’re in it.
I was caught between two opposing thoughts: half the people I knew would probably judge me for joining one and caution me about getting “hazed” and I’ll be left asking myself, “How will you get yourself out of this once you realize you’re with a bunch of girls who aren’t genuine and don’t fit your personality?” The other voice was telling me that there’s a reason why so many girls fall in love with the organization they pick. And after meeting a few girls who really didn’t seem to fit the stereotype, I decided to expand my horizon and give it a go.
What I wanted from this experience
By the time Pref night came for me (where you go to the houses of your top two preferences), I was completely invested in the recruitment process and also totally torn between two sororities. I never thought I would be there, but I had found two organizations that spoke to me. My perspective might be different now that I’ve been on the other side and involved in a sorority that I cherish so much, but at the time I started making a mental list of all the things I loved about each sorority, the girls in it, their philanthropies, you name it. And what it came down to, was that one sorority felt safe and the other felt like it would push me out of my comfort zone. What did I really want out of my experience? What did I want as a 21 year old who didn’t join a sorority until my senior year, the only year I would ever get to be in one? To grow as a person and make genuine connections with people. They always say to go in the directions of your dreams, but I also think sometimes you need to go in the directions of your fears. Your fears are a fear for a reason, because you know that growth will come, because you know you might be successful, because you know that whatever lies outside of that comfort zone is something magical. I knew that I saw myself in Alpha Phi, but it almost felt too good to be true. So instead of second guessing myself or wondering what if or playing it “safe,” I decided to go for it and I’m so glad I did.
The amount of excitement mixed with anxiety I had on Bid Day was insane. I opened that envelope and saw “Alpha Phi” written down and I was excited but also some voice popped in my head that said, “Oh no, what did you just do?” It was that feeling of finally getting what you wanted but then that fear kicks in and you start paddling backwards. I felt a little bit like an outsider internally because most of the girls were head over heels excited and knew they wanted to join a sorority since high school. However, looking back I also know I wasn’t as alone as I thought I was. I’ve talked to a lot of girls that were excited but so overwhelmed. I was so anxious because I’ve never been more out of my comfort zone.
Being out of my comfort zone taught me…
I can say with confidence that joining a sorority taught me SO much about why it’s important to get outside your comfort zone. Looking back, it’s almost weird that the whole experience intimidated me at first. I can’t tell you how in love I am with the Greek system now and I know that Alpha Phi is a huge reason why I am the person I am (as is any sorority you join).
- Getting outside of my comfort zone broadened my perspective. I get asked often if I was hazed or about other common misconceptions about being in a sorority and I would love nothing more than for people to see the positive impact the Greek system can have on a young person’s life. Being in a sorority opened me up to a whole other world at my university and oddly enough for a system that gets a bad rap for judging people, I think it helped me not to judge others as much and be open to experiences I may not know enough about. Being a part of an organization that has such an impactful foundation as well as morals and values that I feel so connected to is something I never would have gotten to experience without Alpha Phi. Being part of a sisterhood where all the girls cherish that as much as I do is something really special.
- Getting outside of my comfort zone led me to my best friends and to form meaningful connections with people. Commuting from home to campus and back without meeting new people that often wasn’t the experience I knew I was meant to have in college and yet that’s how much of my freshman and sophomore years were spent. After joining a sorority, it might’ve felt overwhelming at the time to be in a house with 100 other girls, but it teaches you a lot about being open to new friendships, conversations, and connections. I can say with 1000% certainty that my experience would be so different without being in the Greek system. I wouldn’t have had people to say hi to or hangout with on campus, no sisters to study with in the library during finals, no connections to other people interested in the film and tv industry, and I wouldn’t have met my lifelong best friends.
- Getting outside of my comfort zone prepared me for running my own business. So much of my senior year was spent running from class to a sorority event back to finishing a project, etc. The schedule got a little crazy and stressful but I loved every second of it. Turns out, that’s really similar to my life now as an actor/writer, blogger, and Etsy shop owner.
If any of you are faced with an amazing opportunity that excites you but ignites a little pang of fear in you, take that leap. In 10 years, you’ll be so glad you went out of your comfort zone. Tell me in the comments below what you’ve been wanting to do that’s out of your comfort zone! Scroll to the bottom!