Jan 2014
Amanda Brandt

What living in a sorority house taught me, pt. 2

Amanda shares what she has learned from living in the Delta Zeta house. Part 2 of 2.

On Friday, Amanda shared some of the life lessons she learned from living in a sorority house. (Read it here). Today, she finishes up the list. Part 2 of 2.

How to share, the importance of a family and the benefits of moderation: sounds like the life lessons that are shared with children on an episode of Sesame Street. In part one of this piece, I listed these lessons as benefits of an unusual living situation. In this post, they get more personal and, therefore less universal. So bear with me.

(But before you do, check out Josie‘s latest post, titled “It’s OK to be Greek, too,” a response to Annemarie’s original post about sorority life.)

I have also learned:

How to survive as an introvert when you can’t “shut the door.” Let me preface this point by declaring that I am an introvert. Nobody ever believes , but ’tis true.  People always ask  if living in the house is like living in a freshman dorm. It is nothing like my time in Kiewit. I live in a four-person room, which is double normal residence hall occupancy. It is much more intense than I remember freshman year being. People are in your space all. of. the. time. Like allllll the time.

I wrote about a family atmosphere being important, and that is great for extroverts. They can continuously feed off of other people’s energy, and a constant stream of different faces in and out means there is never a dull moment. But for people like me, introverts who need things like “alone time” and “personal space,” an arrangement like this can be overwhelming. How can I recharge and clear my mind when I can’t shut the door? Well, I mean, I can  shut the door, but at any given moment one of my roommates could come home or someone may knock on my door and ask to borrow a black belt. It is unsettling to know that you don’t have a place that is yours, an impenetrable place only you have permission to be.

I was prepared for this nagging feeling of constant terror by my friend Kelsey. She lived in the house last year and gave me advice about how to survive and even thrive in a bustling environment. Between her tips and my own experiments, I have figured out what works for me.  You can first just get over it, smile, and eat a cupcake somebody left on the counter for the house girls . This is not recommended, unless you want to gain a few pounds like I did the first six months I lived in the house. Another way is to make your own space. Go shopping alone. Walking around Target or the mall by yourself is liberating, albeit bad for your wallet. Go for a walk (or run) around the neighborhood. You can be alone and also counteract some of the many cupcakes you ate. Finally, I have learned to be open and honest with roommates and housemates. Tell them you need to watch three episodes of “Murder, She Wrote” without speaking to anyone else. They get it, and then you don’t have the guilt of being “un-fun” hanging over you.

Solve the problem. I recently heard the phrase “control the controllable” and I love it. I can’t get it off of my mind, and I have come up with many variations like “change the changeable,” “fix the fixable” and “eat the Hot Tamales.” Dishes piling up in the kitchen? Put them in the dishwasher, even if you just did them last week.  Have trouble sleeping if your roommates get up earlier and have to turn on a light? Wear an eye mask. (I highly recommend this one.) Having difficulties getting ready with the “bathroom tango” in full swing?  Take night showers. Become less high maintenance. And trust me, I have become much, much, less high maintenance. I barely wear makeup these days. And it is awesome. I guess this point is (Warning: numerous cliches ahead!) that being the “master of one’s own fate” has really changed my attitude and outlook. I still may not be very “chill,” but I like to think I “go-with-the-flow” more often than before.

So, there you have it. I love living in the Delta Zeta house. It has really pushed me to understand myself and my friends and family. I hope that I can continue living in usual situations. Who knows what I will learn next?

Have you ever lived in a sorority or fraternity house? What do you think of my depiction? Any life lessons you gained from an usual experience? Share them with me on Twitter: @Amanda__Brandt.