A couple of weeks ago, someone told me they thought I was timid and scared. If she only knew that I have spent every second of the last twenty-three years trying to overcome those very words. If she only knew how far deep those words cut. If she only knew what those words mean to me. How much those words try to break me, to suffocate me.
I am a lot of things, timid and scared is not anywhere the list of my abilities. I am not weak. Those words do not define me. I am a leader and I do not take that word lightly either. In college, I gave Alpha Gamma Delta my entire heart. I took any office I could and worked as hard as I could to make a difference. I was no longer a leader because I wanted to be or I had something to prove. I was a leader because those women deserved one, because they had given me so much and all I wanted was to show them how much it meant to me. I was apart of something bigger than myself. It was no longer about me, it was about the entire chapter. I did everything I could to support them and give them what they needed to succeed. I tried to constantly train someone to replace each office I took and even ones I didn’t. It wasn’t because I thought my absence would be felt. It was so they could have my shared knowledge and experience so, they could take the office even further. It was so they could grow and do more than I ever could. I saw that chapter grow and thrive and now as an alum, I get to watch it grow even more. I mean, we had literally over 50 new members on bid day. When I got that phone call, I literally cried I was so happy for them.
I was looking for one of my old documents for a sister and I stumbled upon my senior letter to the chapter instead. Rereading my words, I felt like a completely different person. I think after I went alum, I lost a little bit of my strength, my confidence got a little shaky. Rereading my words today was a beautiful reminder of all that I have accomplished in the last twenty-three years. It reminded me of all I learned and experienced and how far I’ve grown. I was thinking back to everything I’ve done and of course I made mistakes along the way, but I wouldn’t change a thing because even those mistakes led to something or taught me something I desperately needed. Looking back, every single thing happened for a reason and I like who I am because of it. I think rereading it gave me back my strength. It was exactly what I needed today.
So, here is my advice to those beautiful new members:
G: go to everything and take a sister with you. Get involved. Make connections. Go to class. Learn as much as you can. Go to the library and study. Go to campus events, sporting events. Go to the rec center. Play intramurals.
O: organization. If you want to do all the fun stuff, you’re going to need to learn a little time management. Get a planner. Splurge for the Lilly (it’s worth it). Make a budget. College will end and bills will come, so use this time as learning experience and go ahead and prepare yourself for the future.
J: journey. You’re going to tested in ways you never thought possible. There are going to be bumps along the way. Learn the difference between speed bumps and road blocks and just complete mountains. Understand it’s a process. Rome wasn’t built in a day. Be patient. This is the starting point, the jumping off location for the rest of your life. You have new freedom, use it to learn and make a difference.
A: accept differences. If I learned nothing else, it’s that people handle things differently. People learn and speak and communicate differently. If you learn the reason why someone acted that way, it makes it a whole lot easier to see their side. Everyone has a different story to tell. Be compassionate and understanding. Be warm, open, and kind. Be careful with jealousy too because the grass isn’t always greener on the other side. It’s greener where you water it.
G: grace. Learn it. Share it. Accept it. Be thankful for it. You are going to make mistakes, that part is certain. You are also going to get hurt by other people. You can’t control them or what they do. You can however, control your reaction. How you react to things can define who you are.
S: spirit. Paint your face. Cheer. Get excited. You’ve only got four years in college (for maybe a little more, if you’re like me). Make it count. Take pictures and cherish all the memories.
I had a wonderful four-years in Alpha Gamma Delta. I have accomplished a lot. I’ve won awards. I made memories and friendships that I cherish. I learned more than I ever thought possible. I’ve got a resume so long, I need legal size paper. One thing is for sure, I am nothing without You, Lord.
So, here is my prayer today. Lord, I need you. I am nothing without you. I am nothing without your love. I am nothing without your all-consuming fire. Lord, wrap your arms around me. Surround me in your presence. Thank you for all you have given me. Thank you for the my years in Alpha Gam. Thank you for my journey at USA. Thank you for putting those women in my life. Thank you for teaching me and guiding me. Thank you for the experiences and the lessons. Thank you for teaching me forgiveness and grace and love and respect and humility and courage and strength. I pray for those new members. I pray that they grow and learn. I pray they support each other and give as much as they can to each other. And as always I pray for my family and sorority sisters. I pray for my university. I pray for guidance for our government, church, and school leaders. I pray for protection for our troops. I pray for all of those that need you now and for those that haven’t met you yet. In Jesus’ name, Amen.