By TIARAH CHANDLER
I remember the beginning of the fall semester of my freshman year being a time where I thought I knew who I was. I went in as a public relations and advertising major with many assumptions on who I would be friends with and what I wanted to pursue at the UT. By that December, I realized that I was terribly wrong and college would shake my world until all of who I thought I was fell off. I am now an English major with a film minor. I know what I am passionate about and who my friends are. No one comes straight into college knowing who they really are and I stand by my belief that you need at least a good semester to learn about yourself.
So many naïve girls come into college in a hurry to join a sorority as soon as possible. One should know more about herself before she devotes her undergrad time to a sisterhood. That is my belief. You cannot be aware of how well you will get along with a certain group of young women if you aren’t first acquainted with yourself. I am speaking directly to the new college version of you who has not yet been exposed to what is to come at the UT. The high school you left as soon as you moved into your dorm and said goodbye to your parents. My suggestions are to spend some time alone, talk to professors in the fields you are curious about and join some non-Greek organizations that don’t require such permanent loyalty and devotion so quickly.
I am not against Greek life because I think sisterhood is beautiful and rewarding. However, most freshman girls don’t know anybody or anything about who they are. They want to go through recruitment just to say that they’re doing what everyone else is doing. Everyone is rushing, but every person is an individual with a brain. Give yourself time to see how yours works in this new environment.
Sometimes when I was alone, I would go sit on our docks at night time and watch the city lights change and blink across the Hillsborough river. Those colors would give me feelings that inspire poetry and paintings. When my roommates were away, I’d watch my favorite cartoons and shows on Netflix. Certain sitcoms inspired me to write skits and scripts. Figuring out what I liked while I was alone pushed me to drop my public relations major — my heart just wasn’t in it. Without some alone time, I couldn’t quite know how passionate I was about my art and writing.
Growing up, I didn’t have many successful role models to give me goals or show me different careers or jobs that I could do. It wasn’t until I got to college that I met people with doctorates and master’s degrees in art, dance and the social sciences. I now know professors who have worked with famous people and notable writers who have died and left legacies. Being interested in something can be so miniscule until someone helps you bring your ideas and passions to life. The professors you meet here can help you grow as an adult and as a profession after a single conversation. You need to give yourself time to grow away from that high school child before you go about making life-changing decisions. You may decide to be in the sorority of girls who are known for pretty clothes and makeup, then go all natural the next semester. My point is, you need to grow up and out of the old you before you seal the deal on something when you aren’t done changing.
When you rush, or go through recruitment, you are presented with the best version of these sororities. They don’t go to parties and extensively prepare just so they can be the best for you. This may be so exciting, but it isn’t exactly how things will always be. My advice would be to wait at least one semester to get to know both people outside of Greek life as well as these organizations. This way you will be linked to girls inside of Greek life and have friends in different clubs and organizations. When spring comes, or the following fall, you’ll have learned so much about yourself and what kind of people you like to associate yourself with. Once you know everyone and have picked your friends you’ll be ready to rush a sorority. You might even decide that you no longer want to be Greek. You can’t know what else you may be interested in if you never give it a chance. Writing for the Minaret might even be where all of your future best friends are.
In no way am I knocking down the idea of becoming Greek. I may even decide to join a sorority someday. The fact of the matter is there will always be Greek life at UT. It is huge and very popular. This means you can wait until senior year to rush if you wanted. You can do it when you are ready but you are strongly urged to do some more self-exploration. Learn a new language, get a part time job, go on a leadership retreat or start your own organization. Going Greek takes a lot of commitment and you should not commit to something you have to pay for and live for without living for yourself first.
Tiarah Chandler can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org