I have had several emails from distraught parents the past few days.  Several campuses have just finished their deferred recruitments and for some PNMs the process did not yield a bid or in some cases the PNM receive a bid, but it was to a house that she did not feel a connection to.  I wanted to post today a little about what a parent can say to their daughter when recruitment is not a good experience.

As recruitment begins there can be lots of emotions, excitement, anxiety and high hopes that each and every PNM would match with top house choice.  Of course we know that unfortunately every girl will not get her top choices back,  After the first round of parties sororities will decide what girls they want to invite back and at the same time PNMs will be deciding what houses they are feeling a connection to and want to visit again.  As PNMs get that first list of party invites many will breathe a sigh of relief as they see their favorites on the list.  Some PNMs will be disappointed to see that their favorites are missing from the list.  At most colleges and universities the vast majority of PNMs will receive some invites back.

Parents, this is a great time to help your daughters keep things is perspective.  I know that it’s hard!  When our children hurt, we hurt as well.  I have always liked the saying “when God closes a door, he opens a window”. As hurt as some will be, remind your daughter that this is not the end of the world (although it may feel like it is!).  The houses that invited them back may have lots of interesting young women to get to know and the best part is that these young women want to get to know your sweet daughter better!

Self esteem can be shaky at this point. Now’s a good time to remind your daughter that she is much more than letters on a shirt and wearing them (or not wearing them) does not in any way diminish their wonderful talents, skills and qualities.  It is the sororities loss.  Times like these make us stronger women.  Everything happens for a reason and although it may be hard to see that now eventually your daughter will. It doesn’t diminish the hurt she’s feeling but in time the pain will dull. Challenging situations like these can make us more self sufficient.

To compound the situation while one PNM is experiencing a painful experience, others around her will be rejoicing on getting their favorite houses back.  If your daughter is one of these lucky girls now is probably a good time to remind her to be sensitive to those around her.  It is common for PNMs to think ” I’m happy…why can’t they be happy for me?”.  Now is a great time to encourage empathy, compassion and understanding.

Parents, please encourage your girls to stay in recruitment.  If she’s invited back to a house that she did not feel was a good fit encourage her to “give them another chance”.   As recruitment progress more and more cuts are made and some girls will be disappointed as this happens.  I would also tell you to encourage your daughters to attend all of the parties they are invited to and to make sure that they list every house they visit.  When it comes time to rank their Preference houses, again encourage them to list all of the houses where they attended pref parties.  Single Intention Preference (also known as “suiciding”) severely limits a PNMs options.  Is it better to put all of your eggs in one basket and potentially come up empty or be willing to take a bid from where it is offered.  I told one PNM who was quite upset about the bid she received that this sorority wanted HER.  They just didn’t give her a bid out of pity but rather they offered her a bid because they saw in her the characteristics and qualities that would make her a “sister”.  Sometimes this is hard for PNMs to see. Rather than reject the bid I encourage you to encourage your daughter to give it a try. Go to the Bid Day activities, give the girls a chance.  I know that several PNMs who I have helped and who did not get their top choices will tell you that they now LOVE their new home and sisters!

In closing I want to share an anonymous letter that was written by a PNM who went through recruitment at Wake Forest and did not have a positive recruitment outcome.

Dear PNM,

I was in your shoes and I thought it was the end of the world. I know EXACTLY how you’re feeling right now. Rejection sucks. You think you’re fat, ugly, not cool enough, or stupid. You keep going over those 5 minute conversations thinking, “where did I go wrong?” or “what did i say that got me cut” or “why don’t they like me?” Trust me, it’s been a long time since then and I still sometimes wonder what happened and why i was “that girl” who just happened to “fall through the cracks.”

I’ll be completely honest with you: I thought I would have no friends, I thought I was going to be a loser for the rest of my time at Wake and I thought all of my best friends first semester would drop me for their new sorority friends. So many girls on my hall spoke about transferring ASAP so they could just “get away from it all.” Girls were bawling their eyes out, crying to mom, dad, their siblings, their boyfriends, etc. Muttering through tears how “rush is stupid.”

Well let me tell you something, rush is just that. And sorority girls will be the first to admit it. Rush is stupid. No one can gage someone’s true personality in a matter of minutes. People can barely tell the difference between a big heart and a big ego during rush. And 5 minute surface conversations for 4 days should NOT i repeat NOT determine your self-worth. You are better than that. And as far as transferring goes, don’t do it. Be strong. Learn to handle rejection because sooner or later you will face it. Whether you don’t get the guy, don’t get the job, or don’t get the grade you want, it is necessary to have thick skin and to roll with the punches. When life hands you lemons, make mike’s hard lemonade.

So, are these next couple of days going to suck? Again, to be honest, yes, they probably will. Your classmates might still be in recruitment and might all get bids. They will be at mixers and parties for the next week. Getting presents, tee shirts, alcohol, and new converse sneakers. But are those materialistic things really what matter in life? No. In the big scheme of things will they be what makes you happy? No. Friendship is far more valuable. And my friends stayed my friends after rush, and are still my best friends to this day. They introduced me to their sorority sisters and I became close friends with other girls I would have never met if I had transferred or stayed hostile about the entire experience.

I love several girls from all 8 of the sororities on campus and am truly grateful for my relationships with each one of them. Sororities are great organizations and are a way to form bonds that will last a lifetime but sisterhood is more than wearing the same letters on a tee-shirt or the same color chucks. It’s finding your best friends in the whole wide world, finding your future bridesmaids and finding yourself. And you can do all of those things with or without a sorority this semester. I can attest to that.

You are all beautiful, wonderful, intelligent girls. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.

Someone whose first rush was also “stupid.”

P.S. One of my favorite quotes ever is: “Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts.” So look yourself in the mirror and make a promise to yourself to continue. Whether that means being unaffiliated, trying Theta, or fall rushing–pick yourself up, wipe those tears, and have the courage to continue.