Wednesday, November 16, 2016

What It's Like Being the President of a Sorority (My Experience)

This is a weird and bittersweet post to be writing. In all honesty I didn't really think that taking the time to write about what it has been like to be my sorority's (Kappa Delta) chapter president was something I'd do. However, as the time comes for me to pass the gavel it's becoming so much more apparent what this position has meant to me and the personal growth and skills I've gained from the experience. 

Let's take a little trip back to high school for a minute. In high school I tried to be involved with just about everything. From being captain of my soccer team and running cross country to roles in my school's honor council, SGA, service clubs, and religious organizations I had a bit of experience spreading myself thin for the sake of involvement in activities I enjoyed. The difference in high school though is that for the most part those activities end by 7:00 and you can go home and focus on your normal life.



 I wouldn't necessarily say the same is true for presidency. Whether it be meetings other officers want you to attend or picking friends up from a party you didn't attend because it was unregistered and you'd be held liable if you "knew" about all because they've had enough fun for the both of you as president I felt like I always had to be "on." I've had to be an example and an enforcer of the rules which didn't always make me the most popular person in a room. However, it gave me the opportunity to genuinely appreciate maturity but take advantage of fun whenever it was presented. I have liked feeling as though I am needed and my opinion is valued and trusted and I know because of that I was more conscious with decision making and was forced to think about something much larger than myself. With this mentality, I've been able to better understand how my actions impact others and what it means to be selfless and make decisions in the best interest of an entire organization and others.  

In so many ways, I found my belonging in my chapter through my leadership experiences. Within my first month as a Kappa Delta I had already taken on an appointed officer position and become a part of the sisterhood enrichment team as a "SET leader" because I wasn't sure how to solely participate in a group. From there, sophomore year I joined our executive council as Vice President of Public Relations. In that role, I had the opportunity to get to know members I may not have connected with otherwise and interact with more people on a daily basis than I would have as a regular chapter member. Presidency did this more than any other position. Having been on two different years of our executive council I've formed friendships with those girls that would have been overlooked otherwise. I've had an excuse to sit down and get to know members of different committees, our younger girls, other greek presidents, and faculty members. One of my mom's friends who was her chapter president put it best when she told my parents that "I'll learn more from this position than I will from the rest of my college experience." 

I guarantee if you would have told my parents around the age of 5 or 6 that I would be speaking in front of over 100 people each Sunday at chapter they would have laughed. I had to be bribed to stop crying before going on stage for dance recitals and school plays. I hated attention and was painfully shy. While I still don't strive to be the center of attention I am an effective communicator and am no longer nervous speaking in front of groups (this is especially good considering I am going to be a teacher....). This communication skill goes beyond speaking at chapter. I m able to successfully communicate with our national organization, faculty, and advisors about our chapter's goals and initiatives while taking criticism as a way to improve. And if you think that your email inbox can't dictate your day I can definitely prove you wrong on that one. My follow through in all that I do has become more important and as if I didn't already rely on my planner enough I learned to value free time because of how little I've had. 

I've understood how to better appreciate those in similar positions and how to better assist them in their role even if that just means showing up when they ask that of me. There are many times where I felt like I had bitten off more than I could possibly chew but a constant reminder that everything always gets done (even if that does mean sacrificing a bit of sleep) is the truth.

It hasn't all been easy. I've learned to be disappointed by people (you see the very worst and the very best) and how to handle confrontation no matter how much I dislike it. I've learned to not take opinions so personally instead realizing that if everyone likes you you're doing something wrong. I now know that sometimes chapter members will side with their drunk date at a function instead of me and that that is how it's going to be no matter how hard I try to change their mind. I'll be the first to tell you that a contract for a bus company to show up at one time doesn't mean they will actually arrive and that thinking on your feet is a true skill. I've been everyone's favorite problem solver and go-to person when they have questions about anything but their least favorite person to get a random text from since they expect me to guilt them into something or get them in trouble. And let's not forget that reasoning with members sober is a lot easier than babysitting them when they are drunk while you're forced to catch throw up in a cup in a formal dress. Taking the time to laugh at everything that didn't go perfectly (such as dates stealing 8 cases of beer out of the bars storage room without anyone realizing it after the fact or a chapter member breaking a sink at a venue) makes people appreciate and respect what you are doing that much more. It has been a year full of the most unexpected experiences and the best stories to share at Thanksgiving and Christmas that seem better fit for some corny college movie than my actual life.

To any chapter members reading this, I can't thank y'all enough. You've had more faith in me than I've had in myself at many points in this process. You've been patient, held me to a higher standard I've done my best to uphold, not rolled your eyes too much when I decide that what our chapter needs is a vision statement or more mandatory ritual practices, and have learned that sometimes sarcasm is my way to show affection. I'll be forever grateful that you think that I have my life together since that only motivates me more to get it all done to the best of my ability. Because of each of you KD quickly became my favorite part of my college experience and by far the most influential in shaping me into who I've become during my time at Furman.

To my parents, thanks for being my cheerleaders and listening to my stories and allowing me to vent to y'all even if you had no idea what I was talking about. I know sometimes it was discouraging for me to dread coming back to school because of the responsibility but your faith in me went further than you think. To Nell, thanks for sitting through all the conferences and meetings with me and never turning down a vent session on our beds. I couldn't imagine the past year without having a best friend who 100% gets what I'm going through and understands that the complaints don't mean I hate what I'm doing but instead reinforce the drive to do the very best we can. Two heads have undoubtedly been better than one (I think your favorite hashtag is applicable here so... #panlovegirly). 

I am definitely not the same person I was when I joined KD as a freshman and am certainly a different person than I was when I took this position a year ago. While in no way have I done everything perfectly I couldn't be more proud of what I've been able to accomplish. It's amazing just how fast this year has gone by and I couldn't be more glad to have had the opportunity to take on a role of this nature in college. Will I cry at installations this Sunday? I can pretty much guarantee it. After devoting so much time and energy to this position the tears come with a bit of relief, a bit of pride, some sadness that it's officially over, confusion in how to be a normal chapter member, and a whole lot of shock at the idea of having free time. Thankfully I am so confident in our next president (pictured in the first photo with me) and can't wait for her to start paving her own way in this role and can only hope it means as much to her as it has meant to me. Here is to giving up on being the mom of the group and to living out the phrase "fake it til you make it" for the year. 

5 comments :

  1. I was Executive Vice President for my chapter and I felt a lot of similar things. I will say that the position shaped my sorority experience as well as my college experience. I gained a lot of knowledge and skills that I still use daily in my job. Jess at Just Jess

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  2. I loved reading this post, Dorothy as it's so fun to hear more about your experience as a Kappa Delta- it makes me so excited to rush next year!

    xoxo,
    Katie
    chicincarolina.blogspot.com

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