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Finding Solace in Support

By Sydney Towle '22

A week before the rush process began, I sat in Dick’s House mindlessly staring at the walls around me. I had just been diagnosed with an eating disorder and the words echoed in my head, refusing to sink in. This moment weighed heavily on my mind as I went into the rush process. With each new conversation, I felt like the girls I was talking to could read my mind and see my insecurities beaming through.

About a week or so after the rush process ended, I decided to write an article for The Dartmouth’s opinion section regarding my recent diagnosis. After listening to countless girls degrading their bodies and comparing themselves to unrealistic standards of beauty, I knew that I needed to speak up. This was and is not the culture that our campus should be cultivating.

I could barely sleep the night the story was posted. Every nerve in my body was on-edge and I couldn’t stop imagining what people would think of me. Would I be considered weak? Would people stop eating meals with me? How would my friends and newly established sisters respond? These questions reverberated around my head, nervously waiting for a response.

The response I got was not the one that I had anticipated. I received dozens of Instagram messages from people that I barely knew, praising me for speaking up about such a taboo topic. People I had never spoken to confided in me about their own struggles and insecurities. What surprised me the most, however, was the response I got from APhi. I began receiving texts from girls I had never met, offering words of advice and saying how proud they were of me. I remember sitting on the floor of my dorm room, tears streaming down my face, and feeling so genuinely lucky that I had such a supportive group of women around me.

This support has only grown over time. Quarantine made it especially difficult to cope with treatment, but APhi continued to be a source of light in my life. Each week, I would log-on to Zoom and chat for hours with my fellow sisters. Even though we couldn’t be together in person, we could still bake, craft, chat, cry, laugh, and support one another virtually. Regardless of time zones and conflicting schedules, I knew that I would always have another sister to talk to.

The future remains very uncertain and I have no idea where I will end up this coming year. It scares me to think that I won’t see a majority of APhis until next year, if I even get the chance to see them again. Yet no matter where I end up, I know that this unwavering support system will follow me. This provides me with all the solace I need to remain positive and know that everything will be okay in the end.

APhi has saved me in so many ways. Every day I am reminded how lucky I am to be a part of such a welcoming, selfless, and strong group of women.

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