Not That Type of Girl

I went on a first date recently, we were well into our “getting to know you” conversation when I mentioned how much I love Gilmore Girls. My date nodded as if I confirmed something he already knew. It was then he looked at me with a smug smile and said, “So you’re that type of girl.”

Needless to say, there was no second date.

At one point in my life I would have loved to be “that type of girl.” I used to be the perfect storm of braces, glasses, and acne but rather than finding comfort in my own pimple-ridden skin, I tried on stereotypes like hats, hoping to find an identity so concrete it could be characterized as a “type”.

It wasn’t until college that my belief in types began to falter. Being in a new environment with a diverse group of people challenged my convictions but I largely owe this realization to my sorority experience.

I wasn’t the type of girl who would join a sorority. In my mind, sorority girls wore pearls and used the word “summer” as a verb. I didn’t tell myself this because I truly believed it. I wasn’t a sorority girl because it was easier not to be one; it was easier than putting myself out there, going through recruitment, and getting my hopes up only to be rejected.

Eventually I ignored my fear of rejection, I signed up for recruitment and everyday I’m grateful I did. I’ve become a better woman, leader, and friend because of my sorority. We are a cast of characters who challenge one another to be the best possible versions of ourselves, while celebrating our different ethnicities, sexualities, and socioeconomic backgrounds. Some of us even wear pearls.

Finding my place in my sorority was a personal victory for me, I had finally overcome my doubts and insecurities once and for all. But life is never that easy. This new part of myself, a part that gave me the confidence to be my true self, is also something I’ve had to justify.

“You don’t seem like you would be in a sorority.”

I’ve heard these words from everyone, people who barely know me and people who know me.

I found myself faced with the same old doubts and insecurities. My instinct was to agree and follow up with a string of explanations and excuses that painted me as the exception to the stereotypical sorority girl. That’s when I realized I had come too far to revert back.

Yes, I’m in a sorority. Yes, I love Gilmore Girls. I also love movies with gratuitous explosions and car chases. I drive a Subaru to beekeeping class. I drink a lot of Starbucks but hate Pumpkin Spice Lattes. I know how to operate a tractor. I enjoy staying in to read on a Friday night but live for whisky-fueled antics that only end because I somehow lose a shoe. I say “obsessed,” “like,” And “literally”. Like, I am literally obsessed with those words.

As Oscar Wilde said: “To define is to limit.”

I could let any one of these things define me. Such an idea is so alluring because stereotypes come with a set of rules; rather than being accountable for ourselves, we follow the rules to determine how we should think, feel, and act. Stereotypes are safe, comforting, and infallible. They are also boring, forced, and rigid to the point of fragility.

Stereotypes do not allow room for individuality. Identity is not the product of mutual exclusivity; it’s proof that even the seemingly opposite parts of personalities can come together to create a comprehensive, ever-changing, unique sense of self.

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