Support Systems

As Greeks, we hear it all the time- when you join a fraternity/sorority you gain more than friends, you gain brothers/ sisters for life. “Greekness” if you will, is an incredibly unique bond and an experience that is often difficult to explain to non-Greeks. I know that in my personal experience, the support I have received from my sisters throughout my ups and downs has been invaluable and I would always support them in return. However, I learned a very important lesson from them- you may not always know when someone needs your support the most.

As Risk Management Chairman of my chapter, I decided to plan and implement a Self-Image workshop. Self-image is not merely a matter of physical features, but also the way you view yourself as a person. It is often a topic that many young people (male and female) struggle with, which is why I chose to discuss it. I didn’t want the typical format of a slideshow full of statistics because that seemed so impersonal. I decided to reach out to a few sisters who had briefly shared with me that they had struggled with issues in the past. Two sisters agreed to share their stories with the group. Even I was amazed at the stories they told. I was shocked that there were so many things about my own sisters that I never knew and could never have even imagined. It made me think of that saying, “be kind to everyone you meet, they are facing a battle you know nothing about.” While I was wrapping up the night, I shared with the group a thought that had popped into my mind- We have no idea who anyone in this room was before they came to this university. Many people use college as a clean slate to start over and become the person they want to be. Even though that is a great outlook, past experiences still shaped you into who you are today- and who you want to become in the future. Sharing the things that make you you, helps those around you to better understand the way you function.

I asked for volunteers to share things that make them self-conscious so that other sisters would know how to more successfully build each other up. One sister that shared her story that night agreed to make a cameo today to describe her experience. She said:

“I opened up to my chapter about my struggle with an eating disorder in high school. At times it became difficult for me to speak because it was so emotional, so one of my sisters came to the front of the room and held my hand as I spoke. I could also see some of my sisters tearing up as I was speaking. Afterwards, many came up to me and told me how much they appreciated me sharing, gave me hugs, and also opened up about their struggles. To be able to have such an awesome support system while also being there for your sisters is truly incredible. I know my sisters are always there for me, anytime I need them, and in their own unique ways.”

That night the entire chapter really bonded. We went way past our time limit but everyone was sharing so much that we just couldn’t stop! We left that night feeling supported by one another and knowing that whatever battles we were facing, we weren’t alone in them. After that, it became easier for us to continuously share more. By doing this, we learned how to support each other and what it really means to be a sister. One of the newer members of the chapter said:

“Listening to my sisters open up to their experiences and preaching about how everyone should get help and not go through some things alone made me realize I needed to reach out, so I did. Going to the Self-Image workshop helped me regain my confidence, strengthen my bonds with my sisters, and without a doubt saved my life.”

I saw a change in the group that night. I saw a deeper bond form right in front of my eyes, and it was a beautiful thing. That is why I encourage each of you to take time to get to know who your brothers/sisters truly are, because they may not be exactly what you expect. With recruitment coming up, new friends will be entering your circle and it is important to learn as much as you can about them. Show them what being a brother/sister really means; because Greek life is full of tradition and rich with legacies, and when you are gone those you impact will pass on your legacy.

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