The Truth About Freshman Year by Laura Bowers

The day I moved six hours from home, my roommate and I nervously used Google Maps to find Thompson-Boling Arena for our Panhellenic recruitment orientation. We met our Gamma Chi groups and listened to a presentation, but we were both too anxious to listen. After we got back to our dearly beloved South Carrick, we talked for hours about what we thought the week would hold.


Fast forward to Bid Day, and I knew that when I opened my envelope it would say Alpha Omicron Pi—a chapter I had connected with the whole week. But in the middle of the screaming girls and running up the (shockingly) steep hill to the AOII house, I panicked. What was I doing? Why on earth did I not pick the same sorority as my friends? Did I just make a huge mistake?


My mind flooded with insecurities and I kept wishing I was with girls I already knew.


That first week after Bid Day was tough. The girls in my pledge class seemed nice enough, and I already loved the girl who would later become my Big, but I was still uneasy about my choice. Patience is not my strong suit, and I was frustrated that I didn’t love my sorority right away like so many girls seem to.


A week after Bid Day, Maggie, my roommate who is in another chapter, met Sydney Craig, a girl in my pledge class, at an RUF Bible study. We got back to the room and she looked at me and said, “I think y’all are going to be friends.” I hadn’t connected with anyone in my pledge class yet, so I dramatically thought, “Yeah, whatever Mag.”


That weekend, Maggie and I decided to go to Max Patch to watch the sunrise in the mountains. The day before our little trip, she asked me if I wanted to invite Sydney. My first thought was no. I didn’t know this girl. What if she didn’t want to be my friend? I could tell Maggie wanted me to say yes, so I reluctantly invited this random girl to spend a whole day with us.


And I am so glad I did.


That night I laid in bed, smiled, and thought, “Okay. I’m going to be just fine. I have a friend.”


Looking back, I had unrealistic expectations for how quickly I would feel connected to my chapter. I thought that while Bid Day goes on, some magic fairy waves her wand over Sorority Village and ta da! All of the girls love their chapter and its members. But friendships take time. I once heard that friendship is just a lot of shared experiences. And slowly, but surely, I’ve had plenty of shared experiences with my sisters. Like another trip to Max Patch when my car broke twice, and I had ten selfless girls rush to help me. Like getting dinner with Hadley O’Hara and Aubrey Robinson after SGA on Thursday’s and being sore the next day from laughing so hard. Like meeting Julia Craig’s pet pig with Sydney, Lauren Wilson, Annie Wehinger, and Sumner Thompson.


But AOII is also about sharing experiences that aren’t always fun. Like sobbing to my (future) Big during the last round of recruitment as I told her my testimony. Like giving her updates on how the Lord is using the hardest trial of my life to change the way I love people. Like getting hard phone calls from her and feeling my heart break because I can’t take away her pain.


I was so quick to make up my mind about AOII, but now I can’t imagine my life without it. I’m proud to be with a group of women who care so profoundly for one another that they radiate joy. I’m proud to be with a group of women who share a special bond and are stronger together. I’m also proud that I took a leap of faith and ended up in the chapter where I knew no one.


So thank you, Omicron, for the laughs, tears, prayers, and everything in-between. And thank you, Maggie, for strongly suggesting that I invite Sydney Craig to Max Patch.