Sorority recruitment, or rush, is a stressful time for most college students. The girls I coach have described the experience as competitive, exhausting, and harsh. At event after event, they have to put their best face forward to meet the certain standards and expectations of their chosen sororities. When bid day rolls around, hopes and anxiety run high. Some girls get accepted as new members and begin the process of getting to know their “sisters.” Others do not receive such happy news. They are dropped and left to process the difficult feeling of rejection.
Rejection can trigger emotions of self-doubt and a sense of unworthiness. Coping positively with rejection requires compassion, a broad perspective, and resiliency.
C.S. Lewis said, hardships often prepare ordinary people for an extraordinary destiny. But girls usually need some coaching in order to find the extraordinary destiny that can lie within rejection.
If your daughter is dealing with feelings of rejection, whatever the source, here is how to help:
If your daughter did not get into her preferred sorority or she was dropped entirely, she will, almost certainly, take it personally. Self-doubt will be in full force and she will be wondering, what is wrong with me?! Naturally, you will assure her that nothing is wrong with her but, without thinking about it, you may also start pointing out how something IS wrong with the girls who didn’t offer her a bid. Blaming or name-calling may feel like a fair response but it is more likely to exacerbate the feeling of rejection, rather than rise above it. Instead of blaming, model objectivity, calm, and compassion. Point out that there are many factors that determine whether someone is accepted into a sorority, so not to take it personally. Keep your focus on her feelings and her future, rather than blaming others.
Honor her experience.
Your daughter will need to process her feelings and most likely, she will turn to you. Value her experience by validating how she feels and listening to understand, rather than problem solve. As she expresses her feelings, do not interrupt, jump to conclusions, or minimize her experience. Instead, give her space to talk and try to relate to her point of view. Say something like, That must have been really hard for you. I can understand why you are so upset/angry/sad.
Present a reframe.
Rejection can also be experienced as a failure so it is important to help your daughter understand that perceived failures are opportunities. Very often “failing” is an indication that it is time to refocus or redirect. If she wasn’t accepted into her sorority of choice, perhaps she will now have time to pursue other interests or seize different opportunities on campus.
These questions will support your teen in reframing failure:
What do you now know that you didn’t know before?
What did the experience show you about yourself? About others?
What do you realize is now most important to you?
Practice support vs. rescue.
This may be the hardest step. It’s natural to want to rescue your teen when she’s in a sticky situation, but she will never develop her resiliency muscle if she thinks you’ll solve all her problems. Empower her to create a new vision for her future and move forward. Demonstrate your trust in her to make wise choices and reassure her you will always be there when she needs to think through an important decision or process a difficult experience.