Despite initial fears, why I am thankful for joining Greek life

Before starting college this past fall, I spend the entirety of my summer perusing the dark web of Youtube, watching hours upon hours of sorority “bid day” and “recruitment” videos, eventually convincing myself that I could never be apart of Greek life. Even on an intellectually-motivated and diverse campus like Berkeley, I still felt that I wouldn’t quite fit into the Greek system, as I wasn’t always the most extroverted and outgoing person during high school. I was under the false assumption that these personality characteristics were pre-requisites of joining a social community such as Greek life, and also didn’t see myself as fitting the image of the stereotypical “sorority girl” that is portrayed across social media, causing me to think I would feel isolated or outcasted if I didn’t “look” like everybody else. As a result of my misperceptions, I became close-minded to the possibility of ever joining a sorority or being involved in the Greek system. 

Once school started and Golden Bear Orientation (GBO) was underway, I was beyond myself with excitement to finally be at college, and I attempted to strike up conversations with as many people as possible to ease my nerves about being in a completely new environment. As I continued to converse with more and more students, I realized that a majority of the people I talked to were heavily considering rushing either a sorority or fraternity in the coming weeks. My anxiety skyrocketed, and I began to question my initial opposition to the Greek system after realizing that almost everyone I talked to held the same fears and hesitations about joining Greek life as I did. Eventually, I brought myself to the conclusion that it couldn’t hurt to go through the rush process, as I could decide to quit at any time if I realized that the Greek system really wasn’t for me after all. 

The rush process was strenuous, involving many days of pitiful anticipation and difficult decisions. Throughout the process, I knew I wanted to find a sorority that I felt best reflected my interests and personality quirks while also resembling a support system of girls who empowered and strengthened each other. At first, joining a community of 150+ girls was incredibly daunting and overwhelming; I wrongly assumed that everyone was already friends with one another and felt alone when I only recognized a few girls from my dorm during bid day. However, after overcoming my initial nerves and introducing myself to some of the girls in my pledge class, I instantly felt welcomed into the community and became excited at the prospect of getting to know so many new people across all different backgrounds and grade levels. 

Being a part of Greek life on campus has been a significant cornerstone of my experience thus far at Cal and has provided me with the opportunity to step outside my comfort zone and join a diverse community that has grown me tremendously both as a person and as a group member. 

After interacting with hundreds of students across different sororities and fraternities, I quickly learned that you don’t need to fit a particular “box” to be apart of Greek life – you don’t need to be extremely outgoing or resemble the typical “sorority girl” social media loves to portray. Instead, the people that I have met within the Greek system have an incredible array of interests and are eager to defy the stereotypes placed upon them. 

One of the biggest assets I have found with Greek life is the wide-reaching guidance I have received from upperclassmen who are eager to share their advice and knowledge about everything from classes, majors and clubs to choosing a life path, dealing with family and friends, and taking care of mental health. In fact, it was a junior in my sorority that recommended the Campus Ambassador job to me, and she took time out of her busy schedule to sit down with me and review the application in its entirety. 

The Greek system as a whole has supported the growth of my self-confidence and has allowed my social skills to blossom immensely. I feel incredibly grateful for the opportunity to be apart of such an uplifting community that has supported my maturation and defined my experience as a Cal student. 

Author: Sydney Hilbush

Hello! My name is Sydney Hilbush and I am a freshman at UC Berkeley majoring in Political Science and minoring in journalism. I am involved with an array of clubs on campus including Greek Life, Sage Tutoring, and Surfrider, and outside of school I love hiking, backpacking, and spending my days on the beach.