While the fun and freedom of college may not stay with us forever, the lessons sure do. Through pledging and sisterhood, being in a sorority taught lessons that have translated seamlessly into adulthood. More than six years later these lessons continue to improve my career, relationships, and life as a whole.
Early is on time, on time is late, late is unacceptable.
Things just seem to go smoother when you’re early. There’s less rushing and stress and fewer mistakes. Instead of getting dirty looks for walking in late, enjoy praise for being calm, prepared, and early. It just takes a little planning and a few extra minutes to make a big impact on day to day activities.
Offering to help set up/clean up makes the best guest.
It’s such a simple gesture that goes so far. Plus, more often than not, you don’t even have to do anything. After this became a habit at sorority functions, years later I always asked my future mother-in-law if she needed help setting the table for dinner or cleaning up after. She has always responded with, “No, but that is so thoughtful to ask.”
People’s names are the most important thing to them.
In the sorority, we had to learn all the older sisters’ names and exactly how they were spelled. Learning people’s names and spelling them correctly means so much to them. Taking the time to do this can show just how much you care, and for those of us that have names commonly misspelled, we notice each and every time someone makes the effort and spells it right.
Just like Greek letters, logos don’t belong in bars.
Wearing our Greek letters while drinking during a party or at a bar was a big no-no. I’ve carried this taboo with me, keeping booze and businesswear separate in adulthood. Even though I’m required to wear “logowear” each Friday, I never wear it out after work.
Being yourself gets you with the right people.
If I had pretended to be someone I wasn’t during rush week, I could have ended up in a different sorority, or not in one at all. But just like in life, when we are true to who we are, and act accordingly, the right people find us and welcome us into their circles.
Overcommitment makes underachievers.
It’s okay to say no. Doing too much and spreading yourself too thin isn’t good for yourself or the others in your life. It’s very easy to volunteer for a bunch of clubs, committees, and events but it is much more difficult to contribute value to each of them without burning out completely.
Always have a pack of tissues.
In your car, your purse, your carry-on when traveling. You never know when you will need tissues but you always know when you wish you had them. Spills, tears, pointed stilettos that are too big—there are millions of reasons to never leave the house without a pack again. I learned this from too many mixers with too little toilet paper.
“Want to grab a drink?” is the start of something great.
Having an adult beverage can definitely bring people together, and even more so after college. A few drinks let even the most uptight people relax and loosen up. Soon you’re sharing stories and commonalities that may not otherwise have come to light. Many of my most valuable relationships in life have blossomed during happy hour.
True teamwork has no MVP.
Truly being part of a team means helping others for the good of the group. In a pledge class, the entire class is only as strong as its weakest member. There are no MVP awards or praising the hardest working pledges, there is only an emphasis on working as a whole for equal, overall success. Not every effort in life has to be for personal gain, but sometimes for the good of the group with no expectation of individual recognition.
Buy cheap things to get lost or stolen.
Dressing cute in the winter meant wearing a jacket to a party and hoping it didn’t get lost or stolen. So I started buying cheap jackets at thrift stores. I lowered the risk of frostbite and if anything happened to it, my expensive jacket was still hanging in my dorm closet. Years later I do this for vacation. I take cheap clothes I don’t really love with me and after I wear them, I leave them behind and free up luggage space for souvenirs.
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