Being A Sorority Girl: Expectations Vs. Reality, In GIFs

Growing up in a small town with little access to what I now consider the “real world,” my only expectations for what college would be like came from what I saw on TV and in the movies. Going into sorority recruitment weekend my freshman year of college, I had all sorts of expectations that ran the gamut from being forced to drink too much to not being tall enough to be able to pledge (hello, fellow 5’2″-ers!). I had nightmares about hazing and daydreams about formals. I had preconceived notions and biases formed under the influence of Elle Woods. After rushing it didn’t take long to realize how some expectations of being a sorority girl couldn’t be more wrong while others couldn’t be truer.

1. The Women

Expectation: A bunch of mean, terrifying girls force you to drink, dance, sing and pick them up from parties at 2 a.m.

Reality: You’re never forced to do anything worse than compliment your big sister’s crafting efforts. (The forced singing and dancing to One Direction comes after initiation–and let’s be honest, it’s not that forced.)

2. Hazing

Expectation: You’ll be showered in all sorts of unpleasant substances.

Reality: You’re showered in gifts.

3. Bribes

Expectation: You’re paying to have friends.

Reality: You’re paying for your friend’s 2 a.m. Taco Bell order.

4. Clothes

Expectation: You are required to dress to the nines whenever you’re out in public.

Reality: You can’t remember the last time you didn’t wear yoga pants to class.

5. Mo’ Money

Expectation: You’re extremely wealthy. Daddy’s credit card pays for everything.

Reality: You’re shop at the dollar store more than anywhere else (with the expectation of Trader Joes, where you stock up on Two Buck Chuck and guacamole).

6. Crafting

Expectation: You’re so good at making kitschy crafts, Martha Stewart and Zooey Deschanel call your ass up for help.

Reality: You have more glitter in your hair than on the heart-shaped frame you’re painting. Somebody just complimented you on your “sparkly earwig sculpture.”

7. Sexy Parties

Expectation: You party with super hot fraternity dudes every night, red cups filled with PBR held above all your heads.

Reality: You learn YouTube dances with your sisters while eating pizza Monday through Friday in your sweatpants (on Wednesdays, you wear pink).

8. Priorities

Expectation: Schoolwork is secondary to all things Greek.

Reality: You and a few of your sisters have basically commissioned an entire section in the library thanks to the amount of time you spend there.

9. Diet

Expectation: You are required to be on a strict diet to keep up your ~*rockin’ college girl bod*~.

Reality: The 4 major food groups in your diet: pizza, pizza, pizza and whatever free food is being given out on campus (if it’s free you will find it).

(If it’s pizza, you will definitely find it.)

10. Greek Week

Expectation: Greek competitions are terrifying battles between sororities on campus.

Reality: Greek Week is war! Take no prisoners! Show now mercy! You were born for this and/or have been practicing for 3 months straight! (So yeah, this one’s sort of accurate.)

11. Formalwear

Expectations: You spend all your free time getting all dressed up with your sisters for formals.

Reality: The bus leaves in a half hour and you still don’t have a dress or shoes and you’re already a little tipsy. You may or may not have just used lipstick for blush…and lip liner as eyeliner.

12. Formals

Expectations: Formals are basically prom, i.e. the most magical nights of the year full of dancing and romance.

Reality: You dance for approximately 2.5 seconds before your feet hurt too much to move and your date is too drunk to stand.

13. And sometimes your expectations are met…

Expectation: You have the best four years ever with some of the best women ever!

Reality: You actually have the best four years ever with some of the best women ever!

14. And sometimes they are exceeded:

Expectation: You are in the wedding of a sister or two.

Reality: You are in the wedding party of all five of your closest sisters and are the godmother to your big sister’s first child. Yes, this is a shout out, and yes, I’m so excited.

You can reach this post's author, Tara Dalbow, on twitter.
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    • ct

      This is amaaazing! I get tired of all the sorority-hating that goes on here, so this was really awesome to see. I’m four years out of college and my best friends are still my sisters. I’ve only been in one of their weddings so far- in an all-tridelt bridal party, btw- but there’s still time :)

    • Lindsey Conklin

      this is exactly my experience

    • Samantha Escobar

      If there was free food during college on campus, holy crap, I would find it. I would sniff it out like a hound dog.

    • Alicia Brooke

      I got soooooooooooooo many presents. This list is completely correct for my entire chapter except for me. I was a “mistake” and worked hard to maintain that status.

    • Eileen

      I think it depends on the sorority and the school, to be honest. My friends’ experiences have really run the gamut. (My college didn’t have sororities)

    • Megan Zander

      My sisters and I are in our 30s and we still think being sorority girls is awesome. In fact I spent all day today in yoga pants hanging with my little sis, baking and enjoying the nice weather while our babies played together.

    • Michelle RJ

      Thank you. :)

    • OhOk

      Yeah…I went to a tiny school with a very robust Greek life (disclaimer, which will be clear in any event: I didn’t join anything or rush at all, but I did go to a lot of parties because there’s fuck-all else to do). Of the four sororities, only one came anywhere near the experience you described and they were very atypical of sororities nationally and on our campus. Example: they only did the official rush because they had to and took a large portion of their pledges after rush was officially over because they were the “nice” girls who would accept you even if you were too awkward/shy/hipster to handle rushing. Two of the others were exactly the stereotype (and had the majority of sorority members) and the third was mixed.

      But that’s not really my point. This is a pretty rosy picture of sororities, and frats for that matter. I know it’s mostly popular to bash them for the familiar stereotypes, but let’s press on that exclusionary “paying for friends” bit. You pay thousands of dollars above tuition and campus living expenses: already limiting and homogenizing your “sisters” and “best women ever” to those with enough disposable income to pay college tuition as well as social tuition.

      Tthe vast majority of sororities were historically all white, which you guys know because you’ve been covering ‘Bama, so you also know that, in response, African Americans created African American Greek life, so now even in post-mandated-segregation America, you’re down to white, wealthy “best women ever.” Right about now, you’re thinking, “but my sisters didn’t tell me that I can’t have friends outside of the house because we aren’t a stereotype!” Maybe not officially like they do in the movies, but you can’t bring your non-member female friends to your Monday night pizza parties (dues paid for dinner!), or to your formals (slush fund!), or to your mixers (that frat is OURS for the night!). If you live in the house, you have a meal plan there, so except those late night Taco Bell runs, you’re not eating with your non-sorority friends. So now you’ve got a social club of well-off, white students constantly networking with each other and setting up exclusive mixers with the opposite sex organization so they can co-mingle and hopefully one day breed together. And we wonder why we can’t fix upward mobility in this country.

      Also allow me to point out that it’s not exactly queer friendly. Yes, I’ve heard those tear-jerk anecdotes about frats applauding a brother for coming out and the sororities who don’t care if you’re a lesbian. Great. I’ve heard a lot more stories about members playing straight until after graduation. What about trans and queer people? You don’t fit the female requirement of a sorority or the male requirement of a fraternity, so you just don’t have access.

      tl;dr: Greek life preserves class, racial, and gender hierarchies in American society by explicitly limiting membership by ability to pay, history of de jure segregation and failure to correct their current de facto segregation, and conformation to antiquated gender norms.