When I left for college, I knew I’d miss home and I knew I’d miss my family. But I don’t think I could have expected the extent to which I’d feel their absence once I moved to Florida. I always knew I wanted to experience a different lifestyle in a different part of the country than I was used to. Florida seemed to fit with everything I wanted to try, but I didn’t think about the fact that I was leaving so much more behind than just a place.
I’m blessed enough to have a family that’s not only exceptional and supportive, but one that I would choose out of millions, if I had had the choice. I never for a moment felt the cliché teenage angst to grow apart from my parents, and I spent my time having long funny talks with my little brother instead of fighting like a normal sibling relationship. I didn’t realize it entirely until I left, but ever since I was little I’ve been extremely dependent on the comfort of my unconditional and loving family.
When I moved in to college, my family went back home and I was left alone, without a family for the first time in my life. It took adjusting, just like for every teenager who moves away from home, and I learned to depend on my friends more than I ever had before. But it was still not the same kind of love that I was so used to coming home to every night and waking up to every morning. After a whole semester had come and gone, I had adjusted well enough, but the absence of my family still felt like a hole that needed to be filled.
Second semester started off with Sorority Recruitment. I had been looking forward to this moment all of my life, after hearing stories about my grandmother’s sorority days, my mom’s sorority sisters, and seeing how much fun my biological sister was having in her own sorority that she fit into perfectly.
Sororities are a very unique part of American culture. From what I could tell, these sororities are the homes that bind girls together and make lifelong friendships. However, I was unsure of what I would find or what this sorority would be for me.
I knew from the very first day of recruitment which sorority was the one I belonged in. The girls I talked to were everything I had been looking for in a friendship for all of my life. I always believed I was one of those girls who related more to boys; I felt that the drama of the girls I was always surrounded by was repetitive and annoying. I much preferred to hang out with the boys because they didn’t care much for any drama, and were nothing but fun. But the girls in this sorority seemed to avoid drama like a bad manicure. They were hilarious and kind and supportive of each other like I had never seen a group of 65 females interact.
So I joined the sorority with excitement and the belief that I had found the girls who would give me the best times of my life like I had heard from my mother and sister. Each day we spent together, I fell more and more in love with these girls that called me “sister” and welcomed me in with open arms wide enough to spread across campus.
Now it’s been about a month since Bid Day, or the day when recruitment had ended and I had made my decision. But it’s different than I expected. Already it’s been the best times of my life, exactly like I had heard from my mother and sister.
But there’s something else, beyond the fun activities or the cute songs or even the matching t-shirts we like to get made for every possible reason we can think of. The unconditional love and support I had been missing from my life since the day my family went home suddenly began to creep back in. The empty hole began to fill up, if only just a little bit.
Nothing could ever match up to my parents and siblings, who are everything to me, but I learned about friendship, and I learned how to depend on another person, or a group of people, entirely. I feel a familiar sense of support that I had no idea could exist outside of my snow covered home in Chicago, where my parents were waiting for me to return. These girls have become my home away from home, in ways that I never knew possible.
Now, I’m blessed enough to have two families that I would choose out of millions. One of them is filled with girls who are my shoulders to cry on, my best friends for life, and my future bridesmaids at my wedding. The other is the people my heart belongs to, who genuinely feel that my happiness is their happiness, and will always be waiting for me to return home.