The responsibilities of being a big

Photo by Casey Gomez

When I joined Greek life, I figured I would just make a few friends and attend a few mixers, but part of being in a sorority is that they encourage you to take on new responsibilities of some kind, whether those are joining a committee, organizing an event or taking a little. Each of these roles connect us further within the sorority by having us work with our sisters, new and old alike.

When we get our new sisters, we put every effort into creating a second home for them, providing meals and spare hair ties and the occasional tidbit of advice. Sorority life treats Big/Little Reveal with a frenzy akin to parents preparing for a new baby. We spend hours crafting gifts and painting cute canvases and baking until the kitchen is coated with a layer of crumbs and flour.

This year, my roommates and I turned our living room into a crafting disaster zone — the coffee table looks like Michael’s and Hobby Lobby dropped a bomb that blew glitter and acrylic paint on every spare inch of the blast zone. One of my roommates, in order to bake the perfect cake pops, improvised a double boiler out of pots and pans (what you get when you cross sratlife with an engineering school). Another roommate stayed up through the single-digit hours to paint her American-flag-patterned Greek letters. High school me would have probably made fun of college me for skimping on sleep to craft sorority letters with an imitation Lilly Pulitzer pattern.

Reveal Week had snuck up the calendar, and sprang when I wasn’t looking. But in a few days’ time, I will have a Little Sister, and I will be a Big. Translation: I will be partly responsible for the welfare of another human being.

As an only child, I never had the experience of having to treat someone like a younger sister of my own and looking after them. Now, I have spent the last 72 hours decorating canvases with sorority logos and clever sayings, and all the while I kept thinking to myself, “Is she going to like this? Does this look okay?”

Most nerve-wracking of all, though, is the question: “What if I am a bad Big?” Being a big means you have to be everything from a mentor to a shoulder to cry on to a partner in crime to a wingwoman to a voice of reason.

High school me used to think that Greek life was all about partying, but now that I am on the inside I have learned that being in a sorority — or any organization that incorporates mentorship like Big/Littles — teaches one of the most valuable lessons you will not get tested on in class: how to interact with people. Committees give you practice with balancing multiple personalities and points of view, and Big/Littles has you look after someone and act as a mentor.

The living room is a mess and my sleep schedule is upside-down, but I am still counting down the hours until Revelation Day, when I get to add a new sister to my second family.