When I was in 4th grade, I went to sleepaway camp for a week. It was my first time away from home for more than a day and everyone in my family wrote me letters daily to make sure I didn’t get homesick. I wrote home once, with only one sentence: “Mom and Dad, I’m having so much fun! Sam.”
It wasn’t that I didn’t miss my family—I love them more than they could possibly know. It was simply that my parents had always encouraged me to be independent and I embraced that independence from a young age. On top of the constant encouragement to do my own thing, I‘m 11 years younger than my sister and eight years younger than my brother which helped me achieve independence early on in life.
This comfort I felt being on my own was part of why I didn’t hesitate to go to a school almost 2,000 miles from home—in fact, I didn’t even apply to any schools in my home state of Texas. I knew it was time for me to branch out on my own.
When I got to Seton Hall I didn’t know a single person. That didn’t frighten me or make me nervous, but I knew things would be easier if I found a group of people to make me feel at home.
The first semester of my freshman year I joined a plethora of clubs and became friends with some people who are still my best friends today. But I knew I could achieve more.
In the spring I went through formal recruitment and joined a sorority. Despite all the negative stereotypes surrounding Greek life I grew up hearing, I was able to find my second family.
My sorority is a network that links me to people around the country. After getting in, a friend of mine from 8th grade contacted me saying she’s in the same sorority at the University of Texas and my supervisor at my internship was in my sorority at the University of Missouri.
When I look at my sisters I see so many things: friends, confidants, study buddies, gym partners, a shoulder to cry on, a community to laugh and rejoice with. I see both our shared memories and stories still untold. I see a group of girls who encourage me to be my best and support me in all of my efforts, the way a family does.
Because I’ve come to expect this level of support and understanding from my sisters, I constantly take it for granted. I forget that had I made the choice not to join a sorority, these girls wouldn’t be in my life so actively.
This past weekend, when I spent my second formal recruitment as a sister, I remembered why I got involved with Greek Life in the first place. Seeing the excitement of our new members as we welcomed them to our sisterhood, our family, our home, reminded me of how important it is to be involved.
Whether through clubs, religious organizations, service opportunities and social or academic Greek organizations, there’s no reason not to be involved. Greek life is not the only option. No matter how independent you may be, it’s important to get involved and find your home away from home.
Samantha Giedris is a junior from The Woodlands, Texas, and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.