Like a Family, Sisterhood’s All in the Luck of the Draw

I met my Big during the last night of recruitment. She kept reaching across me to whack another girl with a carnation, and made crude faces as we all stood in a circle meaningfully looking at each other to “see if you can picture yourself in a sisterhood with these girls.” She was sure that she had creeped me out past the point of no return — but little did she know, she was about to be my Big.

I lucked out, because the trick to getting a good Big is actually getting to know her by the time everyone ranks who they want to create the Big-Little bond with (you only get three girl-dates to figure out the best match).

Other girls I know got Bigs who they only sort of connected with, or who are too busy to spend time together, or just weren’t as good a match as another member of the chapter.

I know, it seems a little delusional: Knowing a girl for just a few weeks and then declaring her your big sister sounds borderline-psychotic a la “Kate’s Addiction.” But, it’s fun and it’s nice to have a “sister” who doesn’t tattle to Mom and Dad.

The system also has its perks for the Big: The “family” relationship of a Big and a Little allows the older girls to create new bonds. Although some girls never see their Big, there are always other existing members there to assume the older-sister role.

Once you have a Big, she is supposed to make sure you’re not wandering around campus looking hopelessly for Greek row. She’s there to look out for you when you need the help.

You engage in Big-Little bonding. For my Big and me, that includes: wearing gnome pajamas while watching “She’s the Man,” photo-bombing at formals and wearing oversize hats at social events to indicate our authority, though the activities vary by “family.”

Sometimes, they include making plans for lunch and then breaking them when you both realize you’re not as invested in the relationship as you’d hoped. Not everyone’s big-little relationship is the start of new BFFs, but that’s fine too.

Some pairs, like natural relatives or an old married couple, even start looking like each other after a while. Others are reminded of why they went to different universities than their siblings in the first place.

At the end of the day, there is no gross ritual blood bonding, no locking us in a room until we braid each other’s hair and share our inner-most desires — just a healthy jolt into choosing a girl to develop a relationship with, who you might end up building real bonds with.

Next year will be my turn to select a Little, and I do plan to creep her out on the most crucial night of rush week. That will be the test.

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