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From the Director

Buzzfeed quizzes fascinate me.  Likely it is some mastermind collecting our thoughts for a mega database feeding the world information on who we are.  It would seem logical that all of us grew up in a world where we were taught to be cautious around strangers.   But somehow when we are asked to find out which character on Stranger Things is your 80s best friend, we dive in and reveal our likes, our thoughts and souls only to discover our best friend would have been the Three Musketeers-loving and cat-eating Dart.

I have a theory that most people are engaged in social media searching for connection, but often settling for false substitutes.  We seek to be known and accepted for who we are, all the while editing our images on instagram to only show us at our best angles.  We know social media is the highlight reel of our best stuff.  But can anything compare to real connections to fill the needs we have as humans to be a part of somethings larger than ourselves?

I had the chance to go back to my graduate school reunion a few weeks ago.  All of us had served as House Directors for fraternities and sororities in our 2 years on the Greek Life staff and while we live coast to coast, most still work in and around higher ed or education.   Even a couple of our Professors even came back to spend time with our group of about 20 people.  While I have been connected to many of those in attendance in social media circles nothing quite compared to a weekend sitting down together, walking back around campus, sharing stories and life updates in face to face conversations.  I truly believe that time with people who care about you, who share history with you and who know the complicated unedited version of you is one of the best ways to feed your spirit.

For that reason, I believe one of the most significant things you will gain in being a member of one of our organizations is an opportunity for real authentic connection.  I hope that you have found that as a member in your chapter.  I also hope that those relationships roots go deep and carry over throughout your life.  There is nothing better than the simple face to face conversations with a brother or sister who takes the time to listen to you and remind you that they care about you.

I challenge all of us to think about how we could make a difference every day in the lives of people around us.  We are all busy, but take a little time to be present with the people you care about.  Ask someone how are they really doing.  Then wait and listen for a real answer.  Put down our phones, give someone your full attention, and talk to the people with an intention to really hear them.  Ask someone to grab coffee with you or go to dinner together.  Invest yourself in the lives of the people around you and it will come back in dividends.  Before joining a sorority or a fraternity, you likely heard, “You will get out of it, what you put into it.”  I would suggest that is more than just being in the room or the titles you take on.

I encourage you to build up those around you.  “You did a great job.”  “I really respect how you handled…”  “I noticed what you did….”  “ I think you would be a great person to lead at…..”  “You would be great at….” “I know things have been hard…” “How can I help…”  Invest in people… especially those you call your sisters or your brothers. If you notice someone is not connected, go out of your way to reach out and learn about who they are.

Somehow we may still play around with the next Buzzfeed quiz to discover Which Netflix Show You Should Watch Right Now Based On The Froyo You Order ( My result… Sense8).   But, never underestimate the discoveries you will make about who you and others are in this world by pouring out the most authentic version of yourself into your chapter relationships.  When you gather in 20 years with your friends from college, your future self will thank you.

 

Go Vols!

Kelly

The flagship campus of the University of Tennessee System and partner in the Tennessee Transfer Pathway.

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