I’m sorta embarrassed to admit this, but I went down a social media rabbit hole recently, like the kind you can’t look away from.
No, it wasn’t unsolved serial murder cases, or self-diagnoses on medical websites. Nope. This was, well, how do I put this, much, MUCH more entertaining, and I know for a fact, because it’s made several pop culture headlines last week, that I’m not the only person who has been fascinated by, wait for it, SORORITY RUSH WEEK AT ALABAMA, aka #RUSHTOK. Yep. It’s got its own hashtag!
I became obsessed with sorority rush week at Alabama
It all started when a few of my own sorority sisters from the early 1990s started posting on Facebook clips from TikTok, that were highlighting anything and everything surrounding recruitment week from the University of Alabama. I’m guessing several of them stumbled upon the now infamous threads because their own daughters were now starting the recruitment process at college, and as young people tend to do nowadays, the first place their daughters go to for all things related to the college experience is TikTok.
So, I clicked on that first video snippet that was shared, and as I sat and watched all the head bopping, hair flipping, song chanting, and hand clapping, SO. MUCH. HAND. CLAPPING., it instantly brought a smile to my face, and I began to wax nostalgic for my own sorority days from the early 90s, and from the looks of the numbers of views these snippets from behind the sorority scenes are getting, upwards in the tens of millions, I’m not the only one.
Unfortunately, these behind the scenes portraits of recruitment week in the deep south were not all positive. It’s easy to poke fun at 20 year olds swaying side by side in matching wedges and floral tank tops. But ask the families at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital what their opinion is of sororities, and you’ll soon find out that apartment they’re living in for free while their child gets treatment was donated with funds from collegiate and alumni chapters of Delta Delta Delta, to the tune of tens of millions of dollars over the last three decades.
My sorority sisters are my lifelong friends
As I chat with my sorority sisters of old, who now almost 30 years later are my lifelong best friends, we can’t help but chuckle about how it all started. We were once those giddy young women ecstatically clapping in doorways, eager to share with new young women what sisterhood is all about but having no idea those girls we welcomed in would grow into lifelong support systems of friendships that are simply irreplaceable.
We didn’t know back then, as we worried about matching earrings, smeared lipstick, and how to sing while holding a dripping hot candle, how, who, and what the women around us would become. Some said that we were buying friends, and only in college to get our “Mrs.” degrees, but the life lessons I learned behind the walls of Greek letters still carry with me to this day.
Because rising from the pile of 1990s big hair, high-top Reeboks, semiformal, tea-length dresses and disco roller-skating socials rose some pretty amazing women. We’ve grown into circuit court judges, physicians, school principals and entrepreneurs. We’re cancer survivors, marathoners, global missionaries and philanthropists. We’ve started companies, gone back to school, married men, married women, moved across the world and moved back to our hometowns.
We’ve traded in our Greek letters for professional titles
We’ve traded in our Greek letters for different ones, like CEO, CFO, CMO, CPA, MBA, JD, VP and even MOM. Midlife mortality and midlife crises have sucker punched many of us, but we’ve continued to be there for each other through lost jobs and broken marriages. And sadly, we have been forced to reunite to bury sisters who have succumbed to disease and tragedy.
But get us back together again, even if it’s only a few of us, and something magical happens. It’s like we become 19 again, tossing back our hair (though much smaller now) in hearty laughter, talking about everything and nothing all at the same time, and reliving our crazy youth even as we now sit at middle age. The Thetas, Tri-Delts, Chi-Os and Kappas, Zetas, ADPis and DZs, doesn’t matter—throw us all in a dimly lit room, hand us a burning candle, start playing something sappy on the piano, and witness us put our arms around each other and start swaying.
See the flood of good times replay behind our misty eyes and the bonds of sisterhood we took way-back-when manifest themselves in a much deeper understanding of what it means to be a sister and a friend, all these decades later. Then watch us look into each other’s eyes and say 10 very, very important words: “Thank God there were no cell phone cameras back then.” But I can’t help but think how hilarious our behind the scenes would appear now. Aquanet may have been a sponsor!
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