As of yesterday, I was one of the eight Membership Vice Presidents of the Panhellenic sororities at Southern Methodist University, where Greek life is huge. In charge of Recruitment, I helped my beloved Gamma Phi Beta to the best January we have had in years. Over a year of preparation, sleepless nights, endless details and final crises, the culmination was quite something to behold. The wall of sound and joy when I made the announcement was something I will never forget. I stood on top of a concrete block supporting a street light with my sister Melinda, and we screamed with the other hundreds of women as the new members of our respective organizations pelted towards us on their Bid Day run. DJ blasting, we partied on our front lawn with our gorgeous new pledge class. The MVPs usually go into a week of hibernation followed by a decrease in overall participation in life, because it emotionally, mentally, and physically drains you, to try to be on top of so many aspects of the present and future of the institution you hold so dear. There is nothing I would like to do more than stay and make sure every single one of those members feels welcome and at home like I do at GPhi, as well as stay and hang out with all my best friends in the house, not to mention three of my best friends (Gabby, Rebekah, and Katie) who are graduating in May and spreading far and wide across the nation. It was one of the hardest choices I’ve ever had to make, to stay and run for another exec position, whatever it may be, or study abroad. It makes sense, especially after what I’ve endured and achieved, to stay where I am confident and comfortable, at Gamma Phi.
But I have chosen a different path. I went to my sorority’s Convention over the summer, and I was further convinced this was where I needed to be, for as long as possible. But when I was back home by myself, I was reminded of how much I wanted to travel, to seek adventure. Doing this was better for me and my personal growth. I had become a strong confident woman in my leadership role as MVP, and it was time to move other mountains.
Two years ago, around this time, my sister was returning to her college in DC after her fall semester abroad in Paris. One of her Christmas presents to me was a green bracelet. Simple, with white words written in a language I did not understand, she explained it was a Brazilian prayer bracelet. The knots signified my wish, and when the bracelet fell off, the dream would come true. It’s not like a birthday wish, where you can’t tell anyone what you wished, so here goes: I wished to love myself. Cheesy, I know, but it is so much easier to love others and show compassion when you first love yourself. I have grown stronger as a person through my sisters and my experiences in college, and on Thursday morning I woke up and it was lying on my blanket, worn out from two years of hardship and trials. That would go on to be easily one of the best days of my life, surpassing all expectations for Recruitment results, and celebrating with my sisters. Truly a dream come true. This was the best going-away present I could give them. It is good to know hard work pays off, and that “happy people make the best recruiters”, someone wise told me last night. It is even better to know I could be a good leader to these amazing women, and knowing I did my job to the best of my ability, I biter-sweetly surrender my title to Haley, one of my best friends, who will outshine me in every way. It makes it a little easier to leave, knowing the chapter is in a very good place. I am so grateful that I have something that is so hard to leave.
Recruitment ended after a two week process (Spirit Week then Recruitment Week) and 13 months of planning on Thursday at 5:20pm, which is when Bid Day started. The original plan was to drive home that night, and fly out Friday morning, but I think it clicked with my mom over winter break after my 2nd week straight of working from dawn till dusk, and she moved my flight to Saturday. Then she decided to have my dad fly to Dallas to drive me home because 1. I broke my toe 2 days before Recruitment Week and 2. on Thursday night I had had 9 hours of sleep since Monday. I babbled on and on for about 30 minutes while my dad (bless his heart) listened to the stream of excitement, and then my adrenaline crashed and I slept all the way home. I spent today preparing and packing and napping, and we leave tomorrow at 9 for the airport. Chaotic turnaround all the same, but a happy one at that.
My green bracelet meant more than an abundance of new sisters, it truly means my long term goal is so close. Loving yourself is a lifetime job, and is never complete, but I’m so much closer than I was two years ago. This chapter and my role have given me the courage and confidence to go outside my comfort zone and do something for just me. I have wanted to study abroad since I knew what study abroad was. Probably since I was 10. I am glad and grateful to be going, and not missing out on this once in a lifetime experience to see the world and get to know and love me a little bit better outside of roles and expectations. My sisters will be there when I return, and that makes all the different in the world.
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<p><span style="color: rgb(29, 29, 29); font-family: Arial, Verdana, sans-serif; font-size: 12px; line-height: normal; background-color: rgb(237, 237, 237);">My name is Callie Summers, and I am a 20 year old junior studying Marketing and English at Southern Methodist University in Dallas, TX. Taking photos, writing, discovering new music are all among my favorite activities, right next to spending the majority of my time with my amazing Gamma Phi sisters and friends. I have an affinity for Thai food, candy, and Shirley Temples, but I cannot wait to try different foods from Paris and the surrounding areas. Full of wanderlust, my goal is to travel the world and live abroad doing what I love. I would love to share my experiences in Paris with you! Check out my blog and feel free to leave comments or contact me!</span></p>