By Lindsay Namendorf (Iota Alpha, Alumnae Initiates)
My story of growth may seem a little bit different than most since I am 45 years old. It may also look different as I am an alumna initiate who joined Alpha Chi Omega in fall 2021. Those factors, however, are what make my story of growth beautiful and unique. I hope they connect with you in some way.
I have always been reserved and a little more introverted, which kept me from going through recruitment in my college years. I had friends who were in Alpha Chi, and any time I was around them, it just always felt like home. I knew I belonged, but at the time I just wasn't ready. At 43, and in the middle of a pandemic, I decided I wasn't going to let those characteristics hold me back any longer. After 24 years, I was finally ready.
I did some research via the Alpha Chi Omega website and submitted my interest. It wasn't long until I was contacted by sister Loy Holt (Iota Alpha, Alumnae Initiates, who serves on the National Alumna Initiate Program panel). She was honestly just truly amazing from the very beginning. From the first time talking to her, I could feel her passion for the sisterhood. It was even more comforting to me that she was a sister who came through NAIP as well. With her guidance, I went through panel interviews and a final test leading to officially becoming a member of Alpha Chi Omega. It was truly a thrilling time.
I really wanted to connect with sisters locally, and Loy told me about the Baltimore, Maryland alumnae chapter, Epsilon Xi Epsilon. I joined this alumnae chapter, and these sisters have truly been amazing.
My first experience with them was my initiation. Talk about having the jitters! Here I was about to meet and be initiated by women I had never even met. Ever. The younger me would have never gone through with this. Everyone had been so incredibly warm and inviting though that it really pushed me to further this process and walk outside my comfort zone. The president of our alumnae chapter, Esther Ousborne (Epsilon Rho, University of Delaware), had reached out to me multiple times before the initiation and was so kind and welcoming. I knew I was going to be in good hands.
When the day of initiation had finally arrived, I showed up at Esther's home and was greeted by sister Grace Dennis (Gamma Omega, University of Miami). After just two sentences spoken by Grace, I felt right at home and safe to be myself and enjoy the process. What a wonderful feeling. It was the most perfect day and initiation. It was truly special. These complete strangers who were now sisters were actually celebrating me, someone they had never even met until that day, with a personalized cake and all afterwards! I couldn't believe the kindness and openness that was extended to me by strangers who were now sisters. Those actions really forced me to be more open and share more about myself than I typically would in a new situation.
I have really grown through this sisterhood by pushing myself to go to chapter events, open up to sisters more about myself, listen and get to know my sisters, and embrace this whole experience. This is hard to do, especially in your 40s! I truly feel like being a sister of Alpha Chi Omega has helped me with growing my confidence as well. It's hard to be open and talk about yourself, your career and your family, but the sisterhood makes you want to do those things and results in that growing of self-confidence.
I am so thankful for my Alpha Chi Omega sisterhood. I went outside of my own box and continuously grow any time I show up at an event and engage with sisters of all ages and backgrounds. That growth and experience with sisters is something that I deeply cherish. I can certainly say that I have a greater understanding of what loyalty in the Bond truly means.
Lindsay stepped outside her comfort zone and found a place to grow with Alpha Chi Omega and the National Alumna Initiate Program. Who in your life will you share our special sisterhood with this year? Learn more about NAIP or sponsor someone for membership today!