Encouraging Authenticity in Your Chapter

Authenticity is hard. In a society that often advertises a ‘picture perfect’ image of individuals, it can be hard to own and express the many stories and depths that ultimately make you, you.

When I first joined my Panhellenic community, I saw this same “picture perfect” theme throughout the community. As an individual who deeply values vulnerability, I struggled not to challenge myself and others to be more vulnerable, especially as I started to truly know who I was, and who I desired to be. I also felt that with my lack of deeper authenticity, I was unable to fully be myself in my sisterhood and community, both as a sister and a leader. After grappling with these feelings and realizations for a very long time, I chose to do something about it.

I am a woman and leader who is amiable, passionate and ambitious, but I am not perfect. I have sleepless nights, I don’t ace all my classes and my skin has its bad days. I struggle with anxiety and manic depression (bipolar) daily. I work hard each day to not let the negative sides of my mental health rule my life. During a mania there is often a rush to do all things- it’s feeling unstoppable. This is followed by a depressive (manic) cycle. It is being very energetic, happy and driven at one point to feeling hopeless, and being upset (and possibly angry) at another point. This is a piece of my story and identity that I kept hidden from many people in fear that they would perceive me or my abilities differently. As a Panhellenic woman, I feel empowered enough to start owning this part of my story to my sisters, and to those in my community. Throughout this process, I learned incredible things about myself and authenticity

Authenticity Requires Vulnerability

Authenticity requires vulnerability. It is a powerful tool and ultimately is deliberately choosing to know and embrace all aspects of your being – including your perceived imperfections. Being authentic allows you to connect more meaningfully and create space for others to be truer to themselves. By choosing to open up about my own struggles, although terrifying, I was able to have others understand me better at all times, become comfortable with discussing mental health in relation to myself, and feel free from the pressure I once felt.

In a world that often advertises perfection, it can be hard to talk about the things we feel make us less perfect or worthy. Throughout this process, I have realized how an individual can be their biggest critic towards themselves and let fear derail them from their highest potential.

Lean into courage, own your story and start the ripple effect of helping others embrace all chapters of their own – to see that together your power and strength ultimately lies in embracing the things that make you, you.

Kristina Keel

Kristina graduates from Florida Atlantic University in December 2020 with a degree in sociology and a minor in Leadership Studies. She is a member of Theta Phi Alpha, Beta Nu chapter. During her free time, you can find her with a face mask on and a black coffee in hand, listening to your favorite 70s/80s tunes.

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