by Hailey Mangrum
We’re fine. You’re fine. Everything’s fine. Except that moment when reality hits and it’s actually not. Maybe you were planning the biggest program or event for your chapter this semester and now it’s cancelled. Maybe you were excited about this new line for Spring 2020 in your chapter yet now it’s come to a pause. Or maybe, just maybe you were looking forward to the step show, showcase, or award ceremony and now you’re in a slight panic because nothing makes sense. The regularly scheduled programming isn’t, in fact, scheduled. And, on top of all that someone is hoarding all of the toilet paper. I’m there with you, friend. All the feelings you’re feeling are real, 100% valid, and nonetheless, confusing.
One of my favorite teachers in high school, Heather Stanley, had a trinket on her desk that read “Whether you think you can, or you can’t, you’re right” and I never understood it. I was convinced there was an error in the statement. Like, seriously what does this even mean?! But, after getting through some of the toughest times of my life when I couldn’t imagine a way out, I now understand it very clearly. It’s about hope. It’s about intuition. It’s about believing in yourself and what you have the capability to accomplish, even in life’s darkest times.
The world can be a bit confusing right now. The grocery stores are packed with customers and everything’s pretty much out of stock. Every company or CEO is sending emails to customers about their cleanliness and/or precautions. And, the ice cream machine at McDonald’s is still broken. At least there’s some bit of normal.
Here’s the deal. I don’t know the solution or any of the right answers to all of the confusion. But what I do know, is that at times of adversity, leaders of fraternal organizations have been a beacon of hope within communities during times of uncertainty.
Fraternities and sororities have the unique opportunity to bridge communities together, serve others, and candidly provide hope through human connection. All of which is free and can be done at a distance. Let’s be there for one another.
- Check on your members – send a text, make sure folks have somewhere to stay, send an old photo of a fun memory, or set up a group facetime and watch your favorite series together
- Look out for your older members, volunteers, or neighbors – do they have supplies, groceries, or need their trash taken out?!
- Be there for your community – are there resources, discounts or promo codes available to students that you know about but maybe others don’t? Share often and widely!
- Taking care of yourself – Remember those goals you set at the beginning of your term?! Or when you decided to take on that leadership role and the one thing you wanted to change? Don’t lose hope. Revisit and reflect on the impact you have been able to make and will continue to make (it just may be virtually this time around)
In one of my favorite books, Community: The Structure of Belonging, the author Peter Block discusses the possibilities that lie within a community by stating:
“Community exists for the sake of belonging and takes its identity from the gifts, generosity, and accountability of its citizens. It is not defined by its fears, its isolation, or its penchant for retribution. We currently have all the capacity, expertise, programs, leaders, regulations, and wealth required to end unnecessary suffering and create an alternative future”
Y’all. We cannot define our possibilities in a mindset of fear, but rather we should be inspired to lead with hope. As leaders within organizations that are purpose driven, we have all the tools we need to be in community with one another. Let’s be generous in our giving of self, time, and compassion for the sake of humanity. Let’s cue up the podcasts, Instagram Live stories, and text threads to stay connected to our members from a distance. Because, whether you think you can or can’t get through this, you’re right.