Caroline A. DeJong is one of our newest TouchPoint Press Authors. The first book in her collegiate series “A Lovestruck Freshman” was released on December 11, 2017. It provides an intimate look into the life of a freshman learning to navigate college, sorority life, and boys.
You never really know how much of herself an author pours into her work until you ask her. Sometimes the author doesn’t even know herself.
My experience as a sorority member of Delta Zeta was a great one. And I wouldn’t take back the experience for anything, no matter what society says or thinks to know. Let me explain.
There I was. Dressed in my unfashionable, clearance-rack Target clothes—what I considered my nicest look. My curly, mousy brown hair was unconventional in most rooms. My height was almost giraffe-like in a sea of petite girls. Picture it. And then… I walked into Delta Zeta—my fourth party of the first night of sorority ecruitment—and I was welcomed.
I didn’t look like I came from wealth; I didn’t look like the prettiest girl in the room. I didn’t have to be that girl there; I was accepted, no questions asked. I bonded with girls from all different backgrounds. It was not a sea of blonde like society claims to think sororities solely encompass. Maybe that is true of some schools, some sororities, but that was not true of mine. I talked with girls who were genuinely interested in me and not what my plans were for the future, and not where I came from.
That moment struck me as incredibly important. At the time, I couldn’t put my finger on what made Delta Zeta so special—but it was the place where we all can belong. And that’s when I knew that I had found my place in college, even if I was to receive lectures from non-Greeks about these “spineless” organizations.
Society gets a lot wrong about Greek life. Sure, there is hazing. Sure, there is drinking. Sure, there are sexist practices in which sororities cannot throw parties, which, in turn, forces them to go to the fraternity house. Sexual assaults are too often in the press. And it sucks. It sucks to read about that and not be able to change people’s minds about the place where you found a home as a pimply nineteen-year-old.
But you know what they don’t tell you? Those stories are only in the minority. Doesn’t the press always blow up the bad and keep the good under wraps? Good isn’t gossip; good isn’t interesting. But it is out there. And, of course, there are bad seeds! What organization doesn’t have bad seeds? Can you think of one? I certainly cannot.
Let me put this into perspective. I went to parties. I saw bizarre make-out sessions happen on the dance floor. I saw girls say no to boys. I saw people drink too much. I heard rumors of hazing. It happened. I won’t deny that. But it doesn’t happen in every sorority and fraternity. All sororities shouldn’t be put in this glass box that is broken and destroyed to the rest of the world at a mere mishap.
Bad things happen. People do stupid, wretched things. And sometimes they’re sorry. Hopefully, they’re sorry. And the rest of us have to apologize for it; we are sorry, and we wish that all of Greek life was good. Some organizations in the Greek world work hard to fight against these preconceived stereotypes. Yet, we can’t seem to move away because of the bad seeds. It’s not fair. But it’s the hand we’re dealt. And we’ve learned that. And we’re okay with that. We know that there is a lake of good following a river of bad.
My organization and my experience wasn’t flawless, but it was rewarding. It was an experience that showed me that I can do what I want. I can stand up for myself and not be ridiculed for being different. Greek life taught me that I can be myself. I don’t have to be the richest, the prettiest, the coolest girl in the room. I can be myself. That is accepted. That is acceptable. Believe me.
So the next time you criticize Greek life, and there are certainly some members who deserve that judgment, think about this. Think about my experience. Think about the wonderful stories I have, the wonderful girls I met and know today. Maybe we aren’t all that bad. Maybe we aren’t all the stereotype the media likes to shame us into being. Maybe we’re just not entirely obvious, and until you join a Greek organization yourself, you won’t understand all of it. And that’s okay. Just know that we are people. We aren’t all bad seeds. Give us a chance. Would you?
My first book, “A Lovestruck Freshman,” book one in my “These Four Years” series, explores some of the bad of sorority life, but mostly the good. I wrote this so society could understand us better.
You don’t have to love us—or like us—it would just be nice to be understood. We aren’t perfect. But who is? We try. And we try to get rid of the bad seeds as much as we can. Doesn’t that count for something?
Take a read. Let me know what you think about Sophie and her experience. Does it change your mind just a little bit? Can you understand us? I hope so.