This is the first year I will not return to Washington and Lee University. I am now an alumna which means I will no longer practice walking up and down the stairs, leaving enough room for the PNM on my arm to hold onto the handrail or rehearse yelling loud enough to drown out the two "srat" houses on either side of us, "I am a P! I am a P-I! I am a P-I-B-E-T-A-P-H-I!"
Recruitment is a big deal at our small liberal arts school tucked into the Blue Ridge Mountains and the Valley of Virginia. Roughly three out of every four women will go Greek. We run a formal recruitment, meaning we go to the max - we decorate trash cans with bows. We are all Pi Phi all the time.
And it's sad knowing I won't be going back to that, that I won't sit at lunch with my sisters or walk to class with them.
But it is comforting to know that our Greek commitments aren't just for four years, they're for life. I was in a sister's wedding in June. Another just had a baby and has been showered with congratulations from her pledge sisters. And now I am advising a chapter where I get to see them struggle with the same things I did not so long ago.
The experiences we have, the friendships we make and the lessons we learned don't walk across the stage with us at commencement. They live within us and we pass them on.
Recruitment can be stressful, that's for sure - not finding time to do work, heading home past midnight from the house, being surrounded by women 24/7 with seemingly no time for yourself. But keep in mind what is being built. Recruitment is the lifeblood of our organizations. It is the one time of year we get to extend the hand of sisterhood to women who will be by our sides when we face our greatest disappointments and our most profound accomplishments.
And I'd give anything to be back at it.
Stephanie Hardiman is a freelance writer and journalist. She keeps a personal blog of things vaguely related to her life and the media here.