I believe that being a woman is an art.
I believe womanhood requires complex thought, balance, strength, perseverance, kindness and thousands of other talents and traits.
What you don’t realize, now that everyone has stopped clapping and we have a chance to speak, is that I’m just as nervous as you are. I really shouldn’t be. I’ve spent a week being trained in how to do this. I know I should lead the conversation in an interesting direction, but still bring it home to us. I should listen more than I speak, but somehow still convince you that Chi Omega is right for you.
I wish I had the time to tell you about every late night I’ve spent laughing until my sides hurt. When my little came through, our recruitment was informal — I got to talk to her for 45 minutes straight and glare at anyone that tried to pull her attention from me.
I wish I had the time to do that with you. If I did, I’d tell you that there’s one thing of which I’m certain: Chi Omega has taught me how to be a woman.
She’s taught me how to lead with gracefulness and humility. How to see the good in people.
Chi Omega has taught me how to plan a large scale event within a budget and she’s taught me how to talk to complete strangers for a week without feeling like a bumbling, awkward mess. And I promise you, when I was in your shoes (just three years ago!) that’s exactly how I felt.
Like a bumbling, awkward mess.
My hair was crazy. I was exhausted. Three years ago, I was eighteen — unsure of myself, unsure of my major, unsure of my decision to pay to move into my apartment a week early and put myself through an entire week of sweat and tears and sweat and weird, synchronized clapping.
I was a girl.
In the last three years, Chi Omega has simultaneously taught me the two virtues that I believe true womanhood requires: softness and practicality.
I have made friends. Real friends. True, honest, forgiving friends who, yes, probably will be the bridesmaids at my wedding (even though I know you’re tired of hearing that anecdote that by now).
But I have also learned so many genuinely useful, practical skills.
How to get along with 18 different personalities at once.
How to speak in front of crowds.
How to manage my time (aka which $40 planner I should buy, use for a month and then forget about in favor of my phone).
How to plan overnight corporate (sorry, “sisterhood”) retreats, with a full educational itinerary and time to bond. Yours is in September. I’m hyped.
How to make a dope powerpoint.
How to deliver bad (and good!) news in a way that informs, comforts and quiets the masses.
How to dress for work.
How to say goodbye, even when it’s difficult. We’ll deal with that in December.
And yes, sometimes when you’re in it, it feels trivial. Why does it matter that we all wear matching colors?
But you get a little older and you get ready to leave (sorry Jos) and you realize:
Wow, I know how to adult!
I know how to be a person!
I know how to be a woman.
A woman who is centered in grace and knowledge and democratic intentions.
You come as you are to Chi Omega, and Chi Omega says, hey, you’re not just kind of cool, you’re a total original! You’re not just good enough, you’re exceptional! You’re not just here for a degree, you’re here for a purpose.
And we’re going to help you find it.
That’s what we do here. That’s what we pay for. That’s the product we put out into the world.
At the end of this week, if it works out that way, you will run home to our big red doors. Then you’ll be stuck listening to me give these long-winded, over-emotional speeches for the rest of the semester.
I cannot express how much love — genuine love, feminine love, the kind of love only a sister or a really good best friend can give — is waiting for you.
Oh, look! My friend is here. She caught me totally by surprise, if you can’t tell. So, anyway, we were just talking about Chi Omega. It was really nice to meet you!