The feeling of self-confidence can be an evasive concept for a college-age woman. The confidence gap holds you back from being and doing what you dream. Studies show at young women underreport and undervalue their true abilities.
And there is no place where we see this more evidently when coaching sorority women than in recruitment. Sorority women lack confidence in themselves to be a great recruiter, confidence in their chapter’s authentic persona, and confidence in their sisters to not be an embarrassment. We could write a book on the topic of confidence (in fact many have!), but I want to focus on the disservice you do to your chapter in recruitment when you lack the confidence to honestly represent your true selves.
Let’s call it like it is- Panhelleic primary recruitment can often be a production, a version of reality, but not 100% truthful. You put the foot forward you think potential new members want to see, but that is not always in alignment with what you really are. And this is how you wind up in a situation where women on campus aren’t joining, or aren’t staying. Too often I see phenomenal chapters that maybe don’t fit the “social stereotype” of what a sorority is, and the members are embarrassed about how the outside world perceives them. Internally the women are having a well-rounded, positive, and values-focused interfraternal experience. Externally they are called “nerds” or “not partiers” or “not hot.”And those judgments, those fallacies eventually break through, causing the members to assume something is wrong.
It is at this time we have seen chapters crumble under the social pressure to live up to a certain ideal of sorority. Instead of proudly defending the personality of their chapter, the personality which attracted their members in the first place, we see members apologizing for it. I have heard women say to me, “I’m a member of XYZ, but don’t judge me,” or, “I’m an ABC, but it’s not what you think.” They put up the defenses when talking about their sorority for fear they may be judged or ridiculed.
Instead of shrinking back and allowing the erroneous assumptions of outside others to define your collegiate experience, I challenge you to own your sorority. Allow your members to be authentically themselves. Clearly you all found each other and stayed together because you liked the personality of your chapter and its members. Be OK- no, not just OK- be PROUD of who you are. Because, there are lots of other women on your campus that are just like you; I promise! There are lots of other women on your campus who want the experience you are having.
Take that pride in your organization and protect it. Don’t settle for women who don’t meet your standards because you think they are cool or might help your image. When you really sit down and think about it, you don’t want those women to be a member of your chapter. Confidently use your chapter’s strengths as a recruitment tool to find women who will benefit from the experience your chapter offers. And don’t worry about recruitment, because when you’re living authentically , you have no competition. You may have to recruit differently, but you can and will be successful celebrating who you really are.
And what about those other people in your community who are judging your chapter? Screw ‘em! Don’t let them undercut the experience you are having. Don’t let them tell you that your chapter is wrong. Are you happy? Are your members happy? Are you living the values of your organization? That’s all you need to worry about. You don’t need the approval of the partier fraternity to be great. Be confident in your chapter enough to stand up to them, or at least turn a deaf ear to their judgment. Their approval isn’t needed for your joy to be experienced.
“Bridging the Gap: A Quest for Confidence” is available from LaunchPoint as a keynote, workshop or webinar. Please contact us for more information!