Stereotypes are funny. Everyone seems to know people who confirm stereotypes, and we can always think of exceptions. Well, this weekend I spent time being an exception (and I think there are lots!). I was my “sorority girl” self on Saturday. I don’t know if anyone is reading this who doesn’t know me personally, but if that’s you, I am nothing like the sorority stereotype. I’m not Elle Woods. I never get manicures. I don’t drink alcohol. Never have. I have only a few pink garments. I’ve always been serious about academics, and I’ve never been to a fraternity party. Let me explain…
In 2006, I was approached by a friend to become an alumna initiate of Alpha Sigma Alpha, a National Panhellenic Conference organization. I saw it as an exciting opportunity to make some new friends and more importantly, to volunteer my time to help young women reach their goals and make the most of their college years. I’m now a national volunteer as a member of my district’s Education Coaching Team. On Saturday I traveled with a fellow ASA alumna about two hours to meet with the members of an ASA colony and offer my support as they work toward becoming a full-fledged chapter. The group was a local sorority that is now “going national.” So my companion and I also spoke with the alumnae of the local sorority about becoming alumnae initiates of Alpha Sigma Alpha. Although tentative at first, these women warmed up to us pretty quickly, and they seemed truly appreciative of the information that we provided. I admired their dedication to the organization that they worked hard to establish, and they obviously cared a lot about the college women who are making the transition from the local to the new ASA chapter. And guess what…they brought cookies! Yummy, homemade, perfectly iced cookies.
So as I traveled home, loving the gorgeous fall foliage between the ceaseless raindrops, I thought about the contradictions that make life complex and interesting. What do we assume about people based upon their associations, their interests, their friends? How often might we dismiss a potential friendship or opportunity because it’s not a good fit or it doesn’t fit our image of ourselves? I thought about the local Alpha Gamma members. They dreamed up an organization with beautiful traditions and methods that are meaningful to them, and they are now watching those details change, evolve. If we embrace the evolution around us–whether changes in ideas, people, practices, or even ourselves–we might be open to some pleasant surprises.
And it never hurts to have a good cookie on hand.