For many of us, summer means going back to your hometown, losing the schedule that you have grown so accustomed to and leaving the loving sisterhood that you have cultivated at college behind. This can feel really lonely, and you might find yourself struggling with your mental health. This is where the phrase, “lifelong membership” comes into play. I know that when you hear that phrase, it normally applies to your time as an alumna of your sorority, but I’m going to challenge you to think about that as it applies to your summers as a sorority woman.
The majority of your time as a sorority woman won’t be spent during the 4 years that you attend university with your sisters, but in your time as an alumna, enjoying those relationships that you cultivated during your collegiate experience. But as you know, this sisterhood doesn’t just happen- it is a result of the hard work you put into developing it. Maintaining your chapters mental wellness is imperative to building a strong sisterhood that will last a lifetime.
Summer is a time to destress from the beautiful chaos that comes from being in a sorority during the academic year. Attending all of the mandatory events, fulfilling your role as an officer, and even just being a collegiate member can be so draining that by the time summer rolls around, all you want to do is hang up your sorority letters for a minute and decompress. While taking a step back isn’t necessarily a bad thing, one thing I’m sure that we have all learned after being primarily virtual for the past year is how important maintaining a strong sisterhood despite separation really is. You don’t have to wait for your lifelong membership to begin once you become an alumna, you can start practicing it over the summer during a time when so many sisters struggle. Here are three ways you can promote mental wellness with your sisters over the summer:
Practice self compassion. Maintaining mental wellness in your chapter starts with you. I know it’s probably been a long time since most of us were on an airplane, but I’m here to remind you of the classic safety spiel, “please put on your own oxygen mask before assisting those around you.” The same thing applies to promoting mental wellness in your chapter: you can’t begin caring for others until you prioritize your own mental wellness. One way to start is by practicing self compassion. We all have an inner voice that we use to speak to ourselves, which develops our self image. Since our inner voice is active often and how we speak to ourselves influences our self-worth, it is important that we use our inner voice to speak kindly. One way to do this is when you catch this inner voice speaking negatively, ask yourself, “what would I say to a sister who is saying these things about herself?” A lot of the time the answer is that we would never speak to our sisters the way we speak to ourselves. But aren’t you a sister too? By practicing being a good sister to ourselves, we will be better prepared to be a good sister to others.
Create a summer routine to connect with your close friends. The rest we can experience in summer presents a unique challenge: the lack of routine. With lack of routine can also come the lack of convenience in staying connected. To bring back a small part of normalcy, try scheduling time to check-in with your sisters. Create a shared google calendar with all your friends to find times that work each week to get on the phone and catch up, or even plan a time when you can all meet in person! Having a set date you know you are going to catch up on is an easy way to be intentional about checking in on your sister's mental wellness over the summer. Not to mention, the creation of any kind of routine will bring some more consistency back into your lives, by continuing that sense of community each week the way that chapter does during the academic year.
Send that text. We often lose touch with our sisters who we don’t have super close relationships with over the summer simply because we don’t reach out. The best way to solve this is to simply send that text! Whenever you think about a sister, or you see a funny TikTok that you know she would love, send it to her! It’s so easy to get stuck after we make our first friends in our chapter and not reach out to other awesome girls, particularly over the summer. If there is a sister that you’re not super close with, but you know lives in your hometown, reach out and grab lunch! The best way to promote mental wellness within your chapter is by actively connecting with your sisters, and letting them know that you are thinking of them. The more spaces for communication that you can open up, the better- and you might just find yourself making a new best friend!
Summer can be a really hard time for a lot of college students, but if you take the steps to promote strong mental wellness in your chapter by practicing lifelong membership, you and your sisters will do what sisters do best: lift one another up during difficult times. These few restful and rejuvenating months are the perfect time to enhance that bond that you started during the academic year, and to build lifelong friendships with your sisters, even when it isn’t as convenient as seeing them every week at chapter. The most important part of being a good sister both to yourself and others is being mindful of the time you spend cultivating those relationships, so don’t be afraid to take that extra step: reach out, you never know what amazing new friendships you can develop at any point in your sorority experience!
Kenzie is one of our incredible interns who will be contributing to Her Sorority Journey programming & development during the 2021 summer! Meet our rockstar team of interns here: https://www.hersororityjourney.com/about