Growing up adopted, I often felt like I was missing a piece of my puzzle and struggled to feel that true sense of family. Moving away from home for college, I didn’t know what to expect, who I fully was or who I desired to be. I chose to go through recruitment in search of the bonds that I heard could last a lifetime. Looking back, I not only formed these bonds but also found myself within my membership.
Ritual is the foundation of all fraternities and sororities and is more than a sacred ceremony. It is the one constant binding piece for members across the globe. The words and actions performed in a ritual exist to help teach the history and values of a sorority. These sacred ceremonies stand as a time of intentional reflection for both potential and current members. Within ritual lies values, symbols and secret mottos chosen by your founders. In each ceremony, the meanings and intentions of these specific values, symbols and mottos is revealed.
I try to live my ritual in my everyday life, as do many sorority women. The values ritual teaches help guide my decisions and goals. While each sorority has different values, they all try to help shape you into your best self. As a member of Theta Phi Alpha, we have six values taught by our organization. In an effort to show you how sorority guides you to live by your values, I want to share how Theta Phi Alpha’s values play an important role in my life.
Value 1: Justice
Throughout my collegiate membership, I held many leadership roles. As a leader, it is imperative to be just in all your decision making. Chapter members look up to you and rely on you to make moral decisions for the betterment of the chapter. While serving on my chapters’ standards board, this value was consistently in question when needing to make decisions in regards to a members’ best interest or betterment of the overall chapter. A standards board is a group of selected sorority women who help keep members accountable to meet standards like grade or financial requirements. We help members when needed and sometimes have to make hard decisions.
Value 2: Honor
Every action taken helps dictate who you are to yourself and to others. It is crucial that you stick to your word, otherwise you lose credibility and honor. As a leader, I have always strived to follow through and honor myself so that others will honor me in return. Honor yourself by creating a good reputation and striving to be the best woman you can be.
Value 3: Truth
Truth is often the basis for many other values. This creates space for me to constantly reflect on all aspects of my life. Am I being true to who I am? Am I being true to those around me? Truth can be a guiding principle for all your other values. By being true, you can fully lead a life you’re proud of.
Value 4: Faith
Throughout your time in college, there are many ups and downs. The same can be said about life as a whole. Faith became a very important value to me when facing rejection and failure. I had the honor of holding many positions; however, I also experienced failure and rejection when not being elected for various positions. When navigating through these heavy feelings, I had a choice to make: to continue my dedication in the same capacity prior to elections and have faith in what’s to come or to stop putting forth effort. Serving as ritual chairman, I often found myself opening up my ritual book during these challenging experiences. It became important to me to not give up and to always have faith. Continuing to have faith allows you the opportunity to eventually reach ‘your moment,’ otherwise, you may unknowingly pass it up – I promise, it will come.
Value 5: Wisdom
To be wise means to see the importance in gaining perspective and insight with a willingness to share what you already know. Through my experiences in life, I have been able to obtain life lessons and nuggets of knowledge. This knowledge isn’t just valuable to me and so we teach it to others. Being a mentor and sharing the wisdom you have can help improve other generations of leaders. It is important to teach or apply the knowledge I have for the betterment of myself and others.
Value 6: Loyalty
It is not only important to stay loyal to your sisters but also to your letters. Since having a better understanding of my ritual, I now understand that I have to earn my letters over and over again. It is important to carry loyalty for your letters throughout the entirety of your membership. The dedication seen during your new member days should not subside after your initiation day. To me, it is important that the letters I have the privilege of wearing mean something. I stay loyal to my letters by creating meaning for them instead of choosing to wear ‘hollow letters’ every day.
As a recent alumna, the values, symbols and mottos found in ritual is something I will carry with me into this new phase of my membership, through my actions and accomplishments.
Living out your ritual means understanding and aligning your actions with these values and meanings instilled within you. Living out my values and knowing my ritual allows me to always be true to myself, support others along the way and make just decisions. Through my ritual, I have been able to fully understand and see the power of my letters and my sisterhood, allowing me to become the best version of myself.
Honor your founders – you become ritual and a piece of your history alongside them. Today, I encourage you to look at your ritual with intention and a purpose. I challenge you to learn your ritual, know your ritual, and live your ritual; to see all your ritual can potentially do for you, as it did for me.