Now wait, before you get all judgmental about the whole ‘sorority girl’ stigma, just keep reading. For an introvert out there, the title may have even given you some anxiety. A year ago, it would have done the same for me.

 I graduated high school, started community college in my county (which essentially turned out to be 13th grade as far as change of personal surroundings was concerned) and graduated with my Associates Degree in May of 2014, all with the same group of friends. As excited as I was about finally moving on to bigger and better things, what I hadn't realized about coming to RIT and starting anew is that I would actually have to, well, start anew. New friends, new classes, new everything. That meant I would have to speak to people, actually interact long enough for them to see I can sort of be funny sometimes, I don’t smell like cheese, and I live a fairly normal life. I haven’t done that since the fourth grade. Even then it was only because my mom set up a play-date, and as far as I knew she would not be here setting up play-dates with my college classmates. If she did, I would have much bigger issues on my hands. 

If you’re like I was, with anxiety rushing from your head to the tips of your toes at the thought of not having your clique alongside you for this four year adventure, a good place to start would be getting involved. There is a fair that happens every year to help all the newbies find their place(s): the Get Involved Fair (catchy, I know). 

There are 285 different organizations on this campus, varying from Greek life to sports to the Beard Enthusiasts at RIT Demonstrating Success - yes it’s a real thing.

With fraternities, academic groups, sports/athletic teams, LGBTQIA associations, theater/performing arts/musical groups, religious life, student government, academic success programs and more, there are endless opportunities to find where you belong, a place you fit into and can grow in ways maybe even you didn’t know you were capable of. 

As I walked around the fair last August I took note of all of the things that interested me. The RIT Rescue Shelter Club, Colleges Against Cancer, maybe even Hillel. Personally, I never thought sorority life was my niche. But on my way out of the fair, I was abruptly stopped by a sweet, somewhat overly cheery girl handing me a piece of paper asking if I wanted to join Greek life. I was startled, so I took the paper, smiled and said "maybe."

After very convincing conversations with friends from home, and with some courage, I decided to go for it. I told myself not to let my insecurities ruin the chance at amazing experiences. No one here knows who I am, or that my voice shakes when I try to speak in class, or that attempting to start a conversation sometimes makes me want to puke.

That’s when I realized I could be whoever I wanted. Don’t get me wrong, I didn’t change my personality to fit in, I simply let everyone see a side of me that only the ones I’m comfortable with have seen. It turns out these students who I now call my sisters, fellow dancers and club members are just like me in so many ways, and although I didn’t think it was humanly possible, some are even more introverted than me. 

If there’s one piece of advice I can give to the people that are in the shoes I was just one year ago, it would be this; the only thing holding you back is yourself. Remember that everyone is in the same boat at first, you’re all alone together, and chances are the girl down the hall from you, or the kid that sits awkwardly next to you in class is just as nervous as you are. College is all about new beginnings, so embrace the butterflies in your stomach and push yourself past the boundaries of your bubble. Get involved and you won’t regret it.