July 27, 2011

Squares & Rectangles, Friends & Sisters

I have an important question for you. What’s the difference between a friend and a sister?

You know how they say everything you really need to know you learned in kindergarten? This might be another instance of that. Because I’d like to answer my own question by saying that, the difference between a friend and a sister is a lot like the difference 
between a rectangle and a square.

For one thing, all squares are rectangles, just as all your sisters are your friends. Some women might stop there and conclude that, hey, they’re all parallelograms. Straights lines, right angles, late nights, afternoon coffees, it’s all basically the same thing.

But of course, a square is a more rigorously defined shape. Maybe one answer is that a sister is a friend, held to a higher standard. By the time we joined Alpha Phi we had all made our friends, our best friends, and our okay friends, our Facebook friends, and our oh-my-god-we-should-totally-hang-out-sometime friends. A sister will do everything with you that a friend does, but that’s not what distinguishes the role of Alpha Phi in our lives. A sister is codified. A sister is pledged to you. A sister will be dependable beyond what we normally ask of our friends, beyond what we think we can ask of our friends.

Your sisters will forgive you if you make a mistake, they’ll console you if you didn’t win the match or pass the test or get the job. They’ll agree enthusiastically that the referee was legally blind or that your professor was totally unreasonable. Your sisters will cheer for you and believe in you, but the thing is, a sister is also a teammate, one for whom the season never ends and the field of play is wherever you are. So a sister will also expect really big, amazing things of you. They’ll hold you to a higher standard. A sister doesn’t let you cheat, or cop out, or take the easy way. A sister disagrees with you, passionately, when you say that you’re not up to the task, when you think you’re not good enough. A sister will believe in you if no one else does, she’ll be on your side if everyone else is walking away, she’ll  be happy for you when other people are jealous, and still proud of you when other people are disappointed. And a sister will trust you to do the same for her, and she’ll trust you to do the same for everyone else in Alpha Phi.

I cannot wait to be part of the dazzling, beautiful future of the Kappa chapter at Stanford. I am so, so proud and happy to be a part of Alpha Phi, and so grateful that I get to be friends, and sisters, with the most amazing group of women I know. Thank you.

Tiffany Li is a rising junior at Stanford (Kappa).She currently works for Obvilux.

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