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Smiling Through Uncertainty

By Ana Reyes '22

Before my sophomore year, I wasn’t interested in the rush process. As a first-generation college student who had trouble describing the words “greek organization” to her family–– let alone translating them to Spanish–– I wasn’t sure it was for me. Nearly a year later and I’ve joined our house’s Diversity and Inclusion Taskforce; I’ve gotten to speak at Women of APhi; I’ve shared laughs, cried and danced on Zoom; I’ve even had the opportunity of being elected summer president. I never could have anticipated all the memories, bonds, and support I found along the way, and like many ‘22s this summer, I definitely didn’t picture it quite like this. Who would’ve expected that a majority of these memories and most special moments would take place virtually? APhi’s helped me find a balance between life at home and life at Dartmouth. APhi has taught me valuable lessons about myself and about leadership, and it created a space I feel comfortable being fully me.

I remember first hearing about Women of APhi during the rush process and falling in love with the idea of an event dedicated to appreciating each other's stories and backgrounds–– what makes us us. I was nominated to speak in the spring and remember going back and forth on what I would say. Inspired by those who spoke before me and teary-eyed from their vulnerability, I spoke on why being home was so difficult for me, the reasons behind my interest in healthcare and substance abuse, and my finding comfort in art and creating clothing. I was taken aback by the flood of texts I received afterward from sisters with similar stories, sisters thanking me for sharing, and sisters telling me they liked the pieces I showed! During quarantine, it was easy to feel alone with the weight of the world but oddly enough I felt closest to sisters despite being miles apart. What was once small talk over the Novack counter and laughs with Jordyn, Sam, or Jolie on FFB turned into late-night FaceTimes and meetings now in grid view on Zoom.

As the world remained at a standstill and we got ready for another remote term, that level of warmth, care, and support stuck and I couldn’t be more grateful. Along with learning the ropes, aligning schedules, and putting on Zooms, I was suddenly facing a death in my family and uncertainty around my living situation. A number of girls didn’t hesitate to reach out, forcing me to find balance and to make sure I knew they were thinking of me and had someone to lean on. In part, yes, I needed a step back but it wasn’t long before I realized how much I enjoyed the normalcy or constancy and loved keeping busy within the house. Every few days, I’d get on Zoom and whether it was a meeting, playing games, or just hanging out, my mood instantly changed for the better. This doesn’t go to say I did it perfectly well or without difficulty, but I undoubtedly found peace here amidst the storm of life offline.

After round three of rush, I called home and rambled to my mom who likely took it with a grain of salt–– but she stopped me and said, “Think back on the whole day and choose the place you smiled most in.” I took the advice and even through the present uncertainty of our lives, I’ve been smiling since.

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