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sorority Q&A: what to do when chapter rules are overbearing…

Q: I am feeling really stuck. I am in sorority X and think of dropping almost everyday. I am 23 years old, much older than your average sorority girl, and I can not handle the “mandatory this,” “watch what you post,” “no drinking pics,” etc. I’M FREAKING 23. I know being in a sorority comes with rules, but I literally feel like these younger girls are trying to tell me what to do.

I was put on academic probation for below .02 below the minimum gpa, but yet my university still has me in good standing. i just feel like the longer i stay in this sorority the more resentful I am becoming and the more things I find wrong and annoying.

What should I do? I’ve made some really good friends already (I rushed in Spring) and I’m scared of being shunned if I drop, but I literally can not take this seriously. I find it corny, overbearing, and annoying to have to answer to sorority X and everything it expects from me. I mean, I have to send PROOF if I miss chapter! What am I? 12? HELP!!!!!

A: Sororities have LOTS of rules! Some chapters are more strict than others, but everything you describe sounds normal. Chapters have to keep their members in line, avoid legal problems, side step bad publicity and stay in good standing with the college administration. Any negative behavior can cause a media firestorm as you’ve probably witnessed every time a sorority sister wears the wrong costume, or posts the wrong photo. The rules come from national headquarters, not just the young girls in your chapter. Sisters can get snotty and power mad, but they are trying to enforce the standards which your organization insists upon. 

There has to be a line somewhere for GPAs and member behavior. You are getting agitated because you’re stepping over that line and then freaking out when you “get in trouble.” The #1 way to avoid all this stress? FOLLOW THE RULES! If you don’t post drinking photos online, don’t get low grades and don’t miss chapter meetings, guess what? No agitation, no anger, no anxiety, no problems. Peace can be yours if you just stay on track. Your sorority wants what’s best for you and being more disciplined is a very useful trait in life.

I don’t know where your intense rebellion comes from, but if you will get past your stubbornness, you can still remain loyal to your initiation vows. Think of it this way ~ when you are employed in your career one day, there will be lots of rules. You will have an entire company handbook to follow. Younger managers may boss you around. You will be told what to do, where to park, how to represent the company image, who you can or cannot date within the organization, what you need to wear to work each day, and much more. I recommend you think of your sorority experience as a training ground for real life!

There is no such thing as total freedom, unless you want to just hang out and sit on your sofa all day. Your professors expect you to perform, coaches and bosses have rules, clubs and organizations have standards ~ you can’t escape it! It has nothing to do with your age. When you’re 60, your much younger boss will demand you attend a company meeting. Even families “make” you do things. It’s called DUTY.

Escape from your controlling sorority will give you more freedom. You can do things alone and you’ll have no behavior guidelines of any kind. I can guarantee you that will loose the sorority friends you’ve made if you turn your back on your sisters. And for what? So you can post inappropriate pictures on Instagram? To sit and eat ice cream instead of going to chapter? Everything has a price. Enjoying the blissful parts of sorority life come with responsibilities (and yes, some annoyances.) 

Also, when you join greek life as an older PNM, there may be some extra agitation. Change your ‘attitude’ towards sorority standards, and I believe this could be a REAL growth moment for you! Getting along with other women in any organization is challenging. If you turn this around, you will have learned soooooo many life lessons. I believe it will be a tremendous blessing for you in the future. xoxo :)

"Discipline yourself to do the things you need to do when you need to do them, and the day will come when you will be able to do the things you want to do when you want to do them!" ~ Zig Ziglar

"I believe that every right implies a responsibility; every opportunity, an obligation; every possession, a duty." ~ John D. Rockfeller, Jr.

I'm so conflicted& upset I don't know what to do. I got into my last choice chapter. I've tried it out & I've met a few nice girls (6/a lot) but I really don't see myself connecting with others since we're so different. They're a bit weird/quirky. Their chapter really doesn't fit the "sorority image" which is what I actually wanted. I know I should leave before initiation (I already let them know I can't) but I feel guilty and sad. I had a big assigned who seemed great but it's not what I want:(

Asked by
ashleyssmile

Sometimes it’s very hard to tell when a chapter is truly a mis-match and when it has potential to be rewarding. It can take a year or two to feel at home and grow to love your sisters if you start out from a low level on bid day. I think your conflict comes from your sorority not having the “image” you wanted. They also don’t fit your “self-image.” If you can’t get past that, then you are probably right to leave. That doesn’t mean things will be better when you’re not greek any longer, or better if you rush again next year. There are no guarantees for future happiness with the chapters you didn’t make a match with the first time.

Sometimes a ‘nice’ sorority is perfectly acceptable and a beautiful place to grow emotionally. You have made friends and even like your potential big. I think that’s amazing! If only you could look past some of the superficial judgements, you might be able to continue your membership. No one adores every member of their sorority! Some sisters can’t stand each other. So if you are looking for total harmony, you probably won’t find it. A smaller group of good friends within a chapter is common. You are feeling sad, because you will be leaving some friendly girls who could become close sisters, if only……..

Let me share a sorority story ~ A friend of mine is currently active in a sorority. I’ll call her Tory. Last year she was sobbing and crying on bid day because she got a bid from a sorority she didn’t want (her 3rd choice after Pref.) Tory’s top pick didn’t come through and the girls in her pledge class are really not her type. After several good cries, she stuck it out and a year later, she’s just starting to appreciate her chapter more and beginning to feel at home. She’s still not crazy about her pledge class, but she has made good friends with her older sisters. And when she sees how “rough” it’s been on her friends who got into the “top” chapters, she appreciates her nice chapter more. She knows now, had she gotten her #1 choice, she wouldn’t have fit in and she wouldn’t have been totally accepted.

The chapter where Tory accepted a bid has turned out to be the ideal place for her after all. It took over a year for her to realize this. She is getting more involved at her own pace, her feelings have grown and she now says "I’m glad I’m a XYZ." Most importantly she has finally developed pride for her organization. She didn’t let one group of girls in her chapter stop her overall opinion from improving. She made the best of things and in return has grown to appreciate her sorority much more. After the bid day from hell, you would never guess this could happen. But it does!!

Soooooo, if you decide you can ~ get past the quirkiness of some of your sisters, you can readjust your expectations, you can enjoy the members you do like, you don’t want to forfeit your greek membership and you’d rather avoid an uncertain future recruitment…. let me assure you it IS POSSIBLE to bloom right where you are! Giving your sisterhood a chance is an option. Please just think about it before you depart!  xoxo ;)

♡ big/little get-to-know-you date ideas for NEW pairs! ♡

Q: I just got a little this year and I’m super excited to get to know her and be someone’s big, but I’m also super nervous. What are some good big/little date ideas in the beginning, to get to know each other?

A: I think ‘doing something’ to ease the initial awkwardness of a new relationship is an excellent idea! You might not be ready to just sit and chat over coffee. Adding a fun activity as a ‘buffer,’ while you get to know each other, helps most bigs and littles relax. This is hopefully just the beginning of a long friendship and many good times. xoxo ;)

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♡ 48 ‘New’ Big/Little Things to do Together: 

  1. Shopping - of course! 
  2. Can’t beat a good movie.
  3. Museum trip for a special exhibit.
  4. Campus concert or musical performance.
  5. Art gallery hopping.
  6. Attend greek mixers & parties together in matching costumes.
  7. Lunch or dinner at your favorite spots.
  8. Attend a football game & tailgating together.
  9. Go to a campus play, or other performing arts event.
  10. Mani/Pedis with ice cream, smoothies, or frozen yogurt afterwards.
  11. Amusement park day with a group of other big/little pairs.
  12. Picnic in the park - pack her favorite foods.
  13. Chic Flick movie marathon and slumber party.
  14. Bike riding - explore your area on two wheels.
  15. Take a yoga or other exercise class together. 
  16. If you have access to a kitchen, cook together - cupcakes, cookies, individual pizzas, gourmet salads, etc…
  17. Go to a comedy club - see if you have the same sense of humor.
  18. Study together in the library - help each other with tough subjects. 
  19. Attend a weekend festival or farmers market in your town.
  20. Binge watch a favorite TV show online.
  21. Paint ceramics or canvases at an art studio. 
  22. Give up bad habits together. Help each other stop smoking, stop drinking too much. or stop eating fatty foods.
  23. Get make-up applications together at a department store cosmetic counter. 
  24. Go for afternoon tea at a tea parlor. 
  25. Take a weekend trip together to the mountains or the beach.
  26. Go rock climbing at an indoor rock wall.
  27. Go wine tasting or on a pub crawl - if legal age of course.
  28. Take a jewelry making or pottery class together.
  29. Attend a local flea market and buy some vintage bobbles. 
  30. Give each other nicknames. 
  31. Host a poker night and invite some other big/littles to play.
  32. Fly kites in the park. 
  33. Plan an informal scavenger hunt at a funky used book store or thrift shop. See who can find the weirdest old books in different categories. 
  34. Go swimming or boating together. 
  35. Take a helicopter ride together. 
  36. Plan an afternoon of horseback riding. 
  37. Volunteer together and work side by side.
  38. Enjoy a trip to the zoo. Act like little kids again.
  39. Depending on what’s in your area, go to: an aquarium, water park, go-cart race track, mini golf, a zip line, ski slopes, ice skating rink, or kayaking/canoeing.
  40. Create and share a big/little Pinterest board together.  
  41. Try a new coffee shop, or new restaurant together, and have fun playing food critics. 
  42. Pretend you’re tourists in your college town and go on a photo shoot. Share your pictures at the end of the day. This could also be a photo scavenger hunt around the city. 
  43. Pick fruit together: apple picking, berry picking, pumpkin picking.
  44. Buy a challenging jigsaw puzzle and spend time putting it together, with a little wine on the side. 
  45. Write together as big/little. Write your own Life Plans and share your goals. Write your “bucket lists” and share your wishes and dreams. 
  46. Go dancing or take a dance class together. 
  47. Throw a board game party and invite other big/littles. 
  48. Swap clothes you no longer want. Have your own big/little fashion exchange. 

♡ ♡ ♡ ♡ ♡ ♡ ♡ ♡ ♡ 

I see a lot of themes for socials and whatnot, but what do sororities and fraternities do at these socials? Do they just sit around and talk, or do the pictures just show them in their cute outfits minus the actual event they are attending?

Asked by
bonniebadlass

Many times the mixer/exchange/social theme will involve an activity like matching your costume to another guest or some other party “activity” like signing everyone else’s shirts. There may also be entertainment of some kind. For example, mechanical bull riding for a western theme party. Or hula dancing at a tropical island social. There can be competitive games, a band playing, a costume contest, food activites like make your own pizza, casino style games, etc… Of course lots of socializing, talking and flirting also takes place.

Another factor is who is hosting the party. Fraternity mixers are a little looser than sorority hosted events. Sororities have more restrictions on drinking alcohol in their houses than frats do. The keg parties and drinking games take place at the fraternity houses. 

All and all co-ed greek socials are part costume party, part cocktail party, party singles mixer and part fun & games. Especially exciting when you’re a new member. As you get older, you will probably grow out of them, but for younger sisters they are a total blast! xoxo ;)

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Hello! Do my big wants a blanket for her alum gift. I don't want to make a tie blanket because she already has a couple. Do you have any suggestion on alum crafts/ letter blankets? ALAM

Asked by
infinitysohigh

I highly recommend a keepsake sorority tee shirt blanket from one of my 2 favorite greek quilt companies: PROJECT REPAT & 3-STITCH CREATIONS!! xoxo ;)

 PROJECT REPAT

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3-STITCH CREATIONS:

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rush talk: should an older PNM rush a 3rd time?

Q: Should I even bother rushing again? I attended formal recruitment in the Fall of my sophomore year but I ended up dropping out due to financial reasons. Then my school changed formal recruitment from the Fall to Spring. Therefore I informal rushed as a junior with a sorority I was extremely fond of. Out of 44 girls, only 9 were chosen. 2 were juniors like myself. I didn’t receive a bid.

I’d love to be part of a sorority and be proud to represent a strong sisterhood. But at this point I don’t know if it is even worth it. My friends who are in the sorority were really rooting for but unfortunately were not part of the recruitment committee. They said I carry all the same values as their sorority. I’m just bummed that I didn’t make it because of my age. And I’m not sure whether to try again as a second semester junior.

A: Since your upcoming spring recruitment is now “formal,” if you participated again your odds for making a match would be improved. I wish you could have stuck it out when you were a sophomore, but things happen. Then your informal rush experience was a real looooong shot with only 9 openings out of 44 PNMs and being a junior. Don’t feel overly sad about that experience, because the odds were not in your favor at all. 

If you’re up for it, you could rush this spring and give ALL the chapters one more try. But only if you are mentally and emotionally able to. At some point, it’s better to get on with life and focus on other things. Sometimes the timing for going greek just doesn’t work out. Life events don’t run smoothly for every single PNM. There are other groups which can bring you lots of friends and personal satisfaction. For your own sanity you might start fresh and join a totally different type of organization. 

That said, I would never discourage a PNM from trying to join a sorority (even as a senior.) So if you still want to go for it, I would support one more effort. But don’t put all your eggs in one chapter basket. You’ll need to connect with ALL of the sororities to increase your chances of success. The chapter your friends are in may not be right for you in the end. One more attempt would not be unusual, but after that, I would call it a day. Let your heart and head guide you to what’s the right choice. Think about it carefully and decide when spring gets a little closer. xoxo ;)

I'm interested in doing informal spring rush at my school. I went through formal fall rush but had to drop out due to financial reasons. I will be classified as a junior but will be graduating later. How do I approach a sorority girl without being creepy or them thinking that I'm just talking to them because they are in a sorority? What if they don't seem approachable? There are a couple I'm interested in but I'm open to all of the chapters. I don't want to miss out on a great experience.

Asked by
shannyeva

Even though “informal” rush is more relaxed, there is still a process for connecting to the sorority sisters. There should be several “parties” hosted by the chapters who are recruiting in the spring. They usually post a schedule of events that are open to interested PNMs. A typical offering will be something like this ~ event #1: Ice Skating With the Sisters, event #2: Crafting Party at the sorority house, event #3: Invitation Only Dinner. You can attend the socials at the houses you are interested in. Each sorority will be hosting their events separately, not all together like formal recruitment. The final day/night is normally invite only. Then they will offer bids to their chosen PNMs. 

Please look for spring rush publicity from all the chapters. They will publish a ‘flyer’ on their social media with the dates, times and details. Your Panhellenic Council may also promote the information for the individual chapters participating.

There may be chapters who have no events at all and just invite friends to join. That’s usually called Continuous Open Bidding (COB). Under that system you would need to “naturally” make friends with a sorority member in your class, dorm, or gym and be invited to casually meet her sisters. You might socialize one-on-one a few times, meet more members and be invited to pledge. That method happens through a friendship you establish through your other campus activites, club memberships and sports teams. 

But with the regular Informal Recruitment program, you don’t have to personally make greek friends ahead of time. While connections are nice, it’s sometimes difficult to break through. By attending events in the spring which are open to all interested PNMS, it’s a much less stressful way to join a sorority. Participating in a series of hosted get-to-know-you socials is the way to go! xoxo ;)

This is the type of publicity you should look for from the sororities:

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☀ 50 Fun Big/Little Matchability Questions! ☀

Many chapters have big/little speed dating sessions and bonding events where potential pairs get to know each other. It’s a great idea to have some lighthearted questions to ask during your match-making parties! These questions are meant to be less serious than recruitment questions and should help sisters who don’t know each other find some common ground. They are written for bigs or little to ask, but the big/little names can be switched around to suit your needs. xoxo ;)

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☀ 50 Big/Little Get-To-Know-You Questions: ☀

  1. If you could work on a Hollywood movie crew, what position would you prefer? 
  2. If your Big changes plans at the last minute, how would you react?
  3. Of these three traits, which drives you the most crazy in a girlfriend: being stubborn, being snobby, being high-strung?
  4. You’re redecorating your room and your big offers to help, what is your reaction?
  5. Your Little is having a birthday tomorrow, what do you do?
  6. It’s composite photo day and your big/little offers to style your hair. Would you let her?
  7. You offered to help your Little move, but now you have a better invitation to a weekend frat party at the beach, what do you do?
  8. If you fell on your face in the middle of campus would you laugh it off or burst into tears?
  9. If you get a gut feeling that one of your sister’s is mad at you, what do you do? 
  10. Do you think it’s better to pout, use humor, or confront your big/little over a unpleasant situation that’s developed?
  11. What do your friends always say you should be? (lawyer, pro athlete, movie star, stand-up comic, etc..)
  12. What is the top trait you look for in a close friend?
  13. Your Big borrows your favorite pair of expensive jeans, when she returns them, there’s a big hole in the knee. They’re not the “distressed” type of jeans. What do you do?
  14. Your Little is making a fool of herself at a party singing bad karaoke, what do you do?
  15. Right before class you accidentally spill Coke all over your white pants, how do you react?
  16. You are meeting your boyfriend’s parents at a tailgating party and you’re having a really bad hair day, what’s your solution?
  17. Most of your new member class dislikes one sister, but you think she’s sweet, what do you do?
  18. It’s Friday, what are your favorite plans for the weekend?
  19. Two of your sisters get in a fight. Would you mediate a truce, listen to both sides but say nothing, or completely stay out of it?
  20. If your parents could buy you anything for your birthday, what would you ask for?
  21. What is your favorite breakfast?
  22. Imagine you are an Academy Award Winning actress, what would you wear to accept your Oscar?
  23. Would you prefer to live in a hip city apartment, a mansion in the country, or a cottage on the beach?
  24. You find yourself in standards trouble with the sorority, what would be the worst punishment you could imagine?
  25. You’re looking through your closet for something to wear, you’re most likely to find what kind of clothes?
  26. Your Little asks to borrow your favorite piece of jewelry, cocktail dress, or other special item, what do you say?
  27. If you could dine anywhere you wanted, what restaurant would you choose?
  28. If you wanted to totally pamper yourself, what would you do?
  29. What is your favorite piece of jewelry?
  30. Which do you use more; your phone, your laptop, your ipad, or your tv?
  31. It’s time for the chapter retreat in the woods, what one essential item do you absolutely have to pack?
  32. Your Big asks you to help with a really difficult and dirty project when you’d much rather relax, what do you do?
  33. It’s sisterhood slumber party night and you can order your all time favorite pizza. What would you choose for toppings?
  34. You and your big/little are sharing a rich brownie and ice cream dessert. There is one delicious bite left, would you take it?
  35. You must study for a final exam, but your Little is begging you to go out, what do you do?
  36. You are working with several other sisters on the annual fundraiser and you end up doing all of the work. How do you handle who gets the credit and the chapter recognition?
  37. Your big/little comes down with a bad case of the flu on the night of formal. what do you do?
  38. For initiation, your Big gives you a necklace that’s not your style at all, what do you do?
  39. If you ran into a friend from grade school who you haven’t seen in years, what’s the first thing she would say?
  40. How long have your had your current hairstyle and hair color?
  41. Your mom sends you a gift card for three new pieces of clothing, which three fashions would you choose?
  42. What’s the craziest color you’ve ever painted your nails?
  43. You’ve been invited to the biggest Halloween bash on campus, what would your costume be?
  44. Your Big got a bad grade on a test and is really unhappy, what do you do?
  45. There is nothing to do but hang out with your sisters at the sorority house.. What do you end up doing all evening?
  46. Your favorite way to unwind is to do what?
  47. If your TV could only get one kind of show, would you choose ~ mystery, romance, crime, comedy, costume drama, reality show, news, or sports?
  48. Your Big is treating you to a weekend away at your choice of destination, where would you go?
  49. If you could only wear one kind of shoe for the rest of your life, what style would you choose ~ flip flops, slippers, sneakers, pumps, boots, ballet flats, loafers, or wedges? 
  50. What would be your fantasy dream job?

☀ ☀ ☀ ☀ ☀ ☀ ☀ ☀ ☀ 

Is declining a bid looked down on? I informally rushed two sororities this fall and I'm so excited to say that one of them offered me a bid. As much as I like the girls and the sorority, I have a tendency to doubt myself when it comes to important decisions. I still don't know all of the 4 sororities too well and I'd feel so much better about my decision if I took the fall to get to know them and then rushed in the spring. I'm beyond grateful for the bid, but I want to find the right home.

Asked by
rosaliae

It’s a gamble. A bid in the hand is worth more than several “maybe” bids in the future from chapters you may or may not like better. You could do better in the spring, you could do worse, or you could get no bid at all. That’s the risk you take moving forward and continuing recruitment next semester. There is no crystal ball to tell you what will happen next.  

If you didn’t feel totally at peace with your bid this fall, then you have every right to keep on rushing. If you did like the sisters a lot, and you could see yourself being a member, then I think it’s foolish to turn down an opportunity to start experiencing greek life right now. But only you know if another sorority would be a closer match.

The risky part is, they have to like you as an A-list PNM in return. Sometimes membership doesn’t work out that way. Personally I would take the bid from the sorority you liked this fall and they liked you in return. But you may have better luck in the spring and make an even more ideal match….. No way to know how it will shake out. Roll the dice and follow your gut feelings. xoxo ;)

I joined a sorority this semester, as a sophomore. I have found that a lot of my other friends from both school & home have been very judgmental because I rushed, and have been telling me that greek life is all partying & that their opinions of me are going to change because I have rushed, even though they have known me for years. I am tired of defending myself and the greek system to close minded individuals who I thought would be my friends no matter what. Any tips on how to deal with this?

Asked by
east-side-sunrise

i am sorry that you have such closed minded friends. They really don’t know anything about it. But even if you did join a party chapter, so what? You are free to live your own life in college. Friends can warn against really serious things like drug abuse, or driving drunk, but when you choose to join a respectable organization on campus, it’s really none of their business! Unless you are being harmed, there’s no point in harassing you. I’m sure your sorority is helping you in many ways, not changing you for the worse. 

If your old friends keep bringing it up, you will have to say "enough is enough" and put an end to the criticisms. You don’t have to keep defending yourself. Smile cheerfully and say, "I guess we will have to agree to disagree and I really don’t want to discuss it any more." Followed by an offer to go get pizza. If you nip the attacks in the bud, and refuse to keep debating the issue, they should get tired of nagging. I’m sure they have joined a club here and there, played on a sports team, or participated in some group activities. To bad they can’t see the parallels. 

Time will tell the story. If you continue to be a sweet person, and you don’t become a wicked witch from being in greek life, then you will prove their theories wrong. You may also grow to appreciate more open-minded friends, as you grow away from your judgmental buddies. That’s Ok too.

Friends should show respect for your “good” choices in life and enjoy your adventures with you. Even if they don’t like sororities they should be polite enough to wish you the best. Others don’t have to agree with your views on religion, politics, or sorority life ~ just be tolerant of them. Enjoy your new sisters to the maximum and don’t let anyone dull your sparkle! xoxo ;)