Stay True To Yourself

Do you remember why you joined your chapter? For me it was to be more social.

I already know what you’re thinking: “Pfft, what a reason! Did you even take college seriously!?!” And you’d be exactly right for asking that.

I actually took college pretty seriously, maybe a little too seriously. You do that when you pay for it yourself. Throughout my entire first year, I never skipped a single class. I never had a drop of alcohol, and I spent most of my time working off-campus. At times it seemed pretty serious (maybe a little too serious). And I knew that I needed to make friends, stay connected, and find my place.

So I decided I needed a way to “force” myself to make friends, meet new people, and join a community that would give me someone to sit with at the lunch table every day — yep, that was still a big deal in college for me. How about you?

So my sophomore year, I decided to join a sorority. I’d saved my whole freshman year to have enough to pay for the dues and the extras. I’d budgeted my time so I could get classwork, paying-work, and student organizational work done with my new sorority involvement. I planned so much that it would probably make your head spin. But I was ready, and when I opened the bid, I knew it was the right step for me. 

Throughout my time in my chapter, I learned a few valuable lessons and I’m going to share those with you:

Put yourself out there.

I was so shy and a bit socially awkward in college. Being on my own and making my own decisions was a new season of my life. I listened and learned through many situations. And then I started using my voice. I’d share my solutions in chapter meeting, and I’d get involved in bringing the solutions to life. I’d participate in campus improvement meetings, and I’d research best practices to bring to the group. I’d help others feel connected to college and follow-up with them regularly to ensure they felt noticed and appreciated.

I realized little by little that I was gaining confidence, understanding, and purpose. I was proud of who I was becoming, and it was helpful to have a caring college community to support my growth and development.

Don’t get involved if you aren’t passionate.

I remember one year during election season that a sorority sister, Jenni, stood up in elections (with the position she’d been slated for) and said “I know I accepted the nomination, but I’ve really thought about this position and I need to be honest: I’m not passionate about this area of the chapter. I am declining this nomination, and I’ll be running for this other position instead.”

And guess what, it was a huge moment for our chapter, for Jenni, and for me. Someone else was elected to the position she declined, and she did a great job. She was elected to her passion position, and she did a great job. And I realized that even if people have expectations, you have to do what is right for you. It’s been 20 years since I sat in the room and watched her do this, and I still think about Jenni and her decision today.

Stay true to yourself.

I went to a good number of fraternity parties throughout my college experience. I had a great time at every single one. And guess what, I never had alcohol to interfere with socializing.  People knew to expect that of me, and I didn’t feel pressured to drink. They always had non-alcoholic options.

I knew what was important to me – hanging out with others and staying sober. And I appreciated that others respected my truth and supported me in my goals (of socializing, seriously, this was one of my main #greekgoals).

And by the time I graduated, I still hadn’t skipped a single class, still didn’t have a drop of alcohol, and I spent a good portion of my free time working off-campus. But I also found a group of friends to hang out with, I went to dances and exchanges and met new people, and I found people that are still in my life today.

Andrea Battaglia is an organization expert and wellness advocate that enjoys sharing her successful strategies for organization, healthy living, and innovation through facilitating workshops, streamlining processes and relevant solutions. Andrea is a proud Greek alum, former Greek Advisor and currently works in Higher Education Fundraising & Development in Springfield, Missouri and happily spends her days immersed in marketing, fundraising strategy and volunteer management.


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