Dance like nobody’s watching: Expanding your Geneseo horizons!

All my life, I’ve had social anxiety that would manifest in various ways, even though I’m an extremely social and outgoing person. My extroverted personality constantly masks the overthinking and stress that invade my mind. From stomach aches before going out, to not wanting to go places unless at least one of my friends would be there, this fear of being alone in an unfamiliar place has always terrified me. Coming to Geneseo, I knew that I would have to face my fears, break out of my unhealthy patterns, and accept the fact that I need to explore the world on my own. College is “the real world,” and I was entering it.

As a kid, my mom signed me up for a wide range of activities from ice skating to soccer. Being as shy as I was, she realized that I needed an outlet to help me blossom. Like the sports that I played, dance is a physical activity, but it’s also artistic, requiring creative expression. I fell in love with dance, and I quickly realized an affinity for it. Dance became a safe place where I could block out all worries, as I engaged in movement and music and explored various styles like tap, modern, pointe, ballet, jazz, and musical theatre. Years later, I began teaching dance to little kids at my studio, which has taught me valuable life lessons such as responsibility, empathy, determination, and increased my interaction with people of all ages and backgrounds. Without dance, I wouldn’t have learned the people skills that I have now. Working at the studio also showed me how to adapt and lead while maintaining my personal creativity. I never could have imagined that my introduction to dance at age four would years later introduce me to a whole new group of friends at Geneseo.

I was aware of various dance groups on campus, but I had no clue where to start until I went to the club fair in September. Tables on tables lined the walkways outside of MacVittie Student Union, full of smiles, music, and treats. This opened my eyes to Orchesis—a student- run, no-audition dance group. I was drawn to the fact that there weren’t tryouts for Orchesis, which eliminated the intense competition that typically happens when joining a team, and instead people could enjoy themselves without stress. I signed up on the spot, and the moment I stepped foot in Schrader Dance Studio for my first tap rehearsal, I was brought right back home. Once the music started, all differences and fear of judgement disappeared, as our collective experiences growing up in dance studios bonded us quickly. When dress rehearsals for an end-of-semester performance began, I got to see a myriad of dances from modern to jazz, and we all cheered each other on—these people who were once strangers were now my fellow dancers and friends. Yes, leaving the familiarity of high school and coming to college is extremely hard, but you must make the most of your time here. Get out there! Try something you never thought you could, or as in my case, continue to pursue something that you love. In the process, you will meet new people from diverse backgrounds with whom you share common interests, expand your horizons with fresh ideas and experiences, and most importantly, have fun. If you haven’t already explored a club or organization on campus, I couldn’t encourage you enough to do so!

Help is at your fingertips, reach for it!

Self advocacy is one of the most important skills that students must learn in their daily lives. It has become a major factor in not only my health and well-being, but my ability to access one of the most basic requirements for life—food. No one is going to serve you new opportunities on a golden plate, you must work for what you want. Most people don’t have to take food into consideration when applying to colleges, but I did. Many schools are unable to accommodate, but I had heard that Geneseo was good with allergies, which automatically gave it a higher rank in my mind.

In 5th grade I was diagnosed with Celiac Disease, a genetic autoimmune disease that requires me to follow a strict gluten-free diet. At home, management was extremely easy since my parents helped me regulate, and I knew the right grocery stores to shop at, the specific brands I could trust and enjoy, and the restaurants that were reliable in my area. Extensive research was required for every trip or outing in order to make sure I had safe and accessible options.

Coming to Geneseo, I was forced to put my health and safety in the hands of complete strangers while everyone around me ate food that would be harmful to me. The first week was truly impossible. Meal options were slim and typically there was one gluten-free option per meal, if any. With the closing of Letchworth Dining Hall due to understaffing from the pandemic, CAS was busier than ever and everyone was in a scramble. Dinner was usually reliable, but breakfast and lunch left me going on weekly Wegmans trips and stocking up my microfridge and drawers.

I soon realized that in order for more options to become available, I would have to reach out and talk to the nutritionist and the chefs. How would they ever know that more items were in demand and that the current options were too limited unless someone were to speak up ? Geneseo has so many resources available for students as long as they go looking for them. Quickly after I emailed a few staff members, items such as bagels, sandwiches, cereals, and sides that I had requested or suggested began to pop up daily. Each meal now consists of multiple options that I can enjoy with peace of mind. There is still room for improvement and increased availability, but progress takes time. Nothing will happen unless you put yourself out there and fight for what you need or want, not only in college, but throughout life.