As I sit here in my room in a rural town in Northern Moldova, 5000 miles away from the only physical home I’ve ever really known, something startles me. No, it’s not the incessant barking of the stray dogs that roam the streets. It’s not the violent squaks of the geese that harass me on the way to and from school. It’s not the presence of granddaddy long-leg spiders just hanging out in the corners of my ceiling (we’ve come to an agreement…I don’t kill them so long as they don’t move).
What startles me most is realizing that the person I have become and the life adventure that I am currently embarking upon was not ever in my “plans”.
I am a planner. I mean, like, a planner. Every since I was very young, I have had 3, 4, 5 contingency plans for my life…where I was going to live, what I was going to do, where I was going to college, what type of man I would marry, how I would be married by the time I was 25 (ha. ha. ha. That’s my favorite joke). Truthfully, not much of my adult life has gone the way my idealistic youthful mind had imagined. However, the most treasured memories and impactful times in my life are the things that occurred in direct opposition to my “plans”.
While these unplanned experiences have shaped me, there is one that stands out among all the rest. This particular unplanned experience involves over 100 undergraduate women and an organization that brought them all together: Sigma Kappa.
I know what you’re thinking: “Oh God, she’s going to drone on and on about how special her sisterhood is and how she didn’t pay enough for her friends and yadda yadda yadda.” Well, while those certainly are my sentiments, that is not exactly the tone I’m going for here. I am writing this in light of the fact that over 500 18-20 year old women are embarking upon their journey in WKU’s sorority recruitment right now and I just think it’s important to share how a single organization, comprised of so many different people, can shake up your life in ways that you cannot imagine.
Throughout the entire recruitment process, literally everyone will tell you to “trust the process”. I used to think that was the most ridiculous statement because, being Type A, I could not understand how an objective process could determine my life better than I could. However, trusting the process is a practice that has come to define the better part of my adult life. When I received my bid to Sigma Kappa in August of 2009, I was disappointed to say the least. That was not where I had imagined myself and it took a solid week and a half of cajoling on the New Member Educator’s part to convince me to give it a shot. Sigma Kappa was not part of my plan and my stubborn self was reluctant to accept this alternative route. However, after years in Greek Life, I learned that most women’s sorority was not their first choice during recruitment. Trust me when I say that trusting the process is the smartest thing I have ever done.
Initiating as a member into the mystic bond of Sigma Kappa further affirmed in me values that I had always possessed, but now was able to share with a group of over 100 other women: Personal Growth, Loyalty, Friendship, and Service.
I am not the woman I was when I embarked upon my college career at Western Kentucky University and I am thankful for that every day. Sure, I was a successful and overachieving high school student: Class President, Varsity Cheerleader, FBLA Officer, Beta Club and National Honor Society Member, Student Council Representative, Yearbook Editor…the list goes on and on. But, even so, no one outside of my class really knew who I was, which was a feat considering my high school only had 350 students. I flew under the radar, afraid to voice any real opinions due to a severe lack of self-confidence. Enter Sigma Kappa. Sigma Kappa and my sisters instilled in me the confidence I desperately needed and desired to become the woman I had always wanted. A woman with a fiery spirit. A woman with determination. A woman with purpose. The opportunities that I was given through this organization have been integral to the amazing life that I am leading now and I cannot begin to thank the past and present sisters that have made it so. No matter the Greek organization you choose, it should be one that ignites your soul and inspires your passions.
Loyalty and Friendship
I am choosing to lump these two values together because they often work in tandem with one another. When I was in high school, I was vehemently opposed to sororities because I believed them to be what I had seen depicted in TV shows and movies so, when my parents suggested that I go through recruitment, I was baffled. They knew that I was not one to go out and make friends on my own; they saw joining a Greek organization as my best bet for developing strong networks and friendships during my undergraduate career. And, boy, am I glad they did. During my 4 years in Sigma Kappa, I connected with some of the most amazing and inspiring women that I could have ever hoped to meet. Did we all get along 100% of the time? Absolutely not. But that’s normal. Any sorority that suggests otherwise is blowing smoke. Were these women all cookie-cutter versions of each other? No. And that’s the best part. Even though my sisters and I were different and may not see eye-to-eye about everything, we were always there for one another. It didn’t matter how close you were or what previous issues you had with each other, your sisters would rally around you in your time of need and you would do the same for them. No hesitation. To this day, I will defend the women that share my letters, whether I know them personally or not, because they are my sisters. They share my same values. They share my letters. That’s loyalty and that’s Sigma Kappa.
When sorority women say “It’s not 4 years, it’s for life”, they are speaking the truth, whether they know it or not. I have formed some of the most important and impactful friendships with women that I met in Sigma Kappa. Even after becoming an alum, my sisters are still the ones I turn to when I need support or when I just want to share an inside joke. They help me make sense of the world around me and can bring me back down to Earth when I get lost in my head about certain things. They call me out on my difficult characteristics, all while loving me in spite of them, and they laugh with me when I make a fool of myself. This is what a sisterhood should be: Women you can call up years after you’ve parted and pick up where you left off. Women that will stand beside you at your best and worst times. Women that will support you no matter the distance between you. Sisterhood is truly forever.
This is the value that has come to define my life. From a very early age, my parents impressed upon me the importance of giving back to your community and helping those who may not be as fortunate as you. This was one of the attributes of Greek Life that really attracted me and Sigma Kappa has no shortage of philanthropic efforts. Throughout my 4 years, we planned multiple philanthropy events to support our multiple endeavors and often found ourselves among some of the highest achieving chapters in philanthropic giving. After obtaining my undergraduate and graduate degree, I did not feel ready to enter into the professional work force. There was still so much left to do to help others that I didn’t feel right not giving back while I was still in the position to do so. Through a series of ridiculous and unfortunate personal life events, I was led to apply to the Peace Corps, not truly believing that I would be able to swing an acceptance. Lo and behold, they saw something in me and here I sit one year later. I am now an official Peace Corps Volunteer in the Republic of Moldova where I teach English to school-aged children. I can say with 100% certainty that I would not be here if it were not for Sigma Kappa and the opportunities that I was given during my time as an active member. My love for service was reaffirmed by the women that I shared my letters with. A recommendation for my service in Peace Corps was written a person that knows me almost better than anyone: my Adopted Big. Words of encouragement are constantly being given to me by sisters when I am doubting my service here or when I get frustrated with the fact that my functional knowledge of Romanian is less than that of a 3 year old.
If you had asked me at age 10 or 15 what I thought my life would look like at age 25, I would have never guessed that I would be serving my country as a Peace Corps Volunteer and I certainly wouldn’t have thought I would have a group of sorority women to thank for that.
But, that’s exactly where my life is and I thank God every day for leading me down paths that I had never considered in my illustrious “life plans”. By learning to trust the process, I have learned to embrace the uncertainty of life and all the beauty that lies therein.