• Elizabeth Delos Reyes

Keep Moving Forward.

Updated: May 27

Trying to find the perfect words to say has always been impossible for me. I have always struggled with being honest about my feelings because sometimes a feeling is too overwhelming that words can’t even help someone empathize with me. This is probably stemming from my fear of being misunderstood and being left feeling disappointed whenever I was misunderstood. But sometimes I think it is necessary for me to being honest with my feelings because I have a voice that deserves to be heard.


March 12, 2020

Have you ever had time taken away from you without any warning? Well, that's what this day felt like. On the morning of March 12, 2020 my entire life was forced to change. It was the last day of Winter Quarter. I finished packing all my clothes to go home for spring break since I was leaving later that afternoon, and I had to run a few errands that morning as well. Just as I was picking up my graduation robes from the mail center, I got the horrible email that changed life as I knew it. SCAD decided that it would be best for the safety of the faculty and students that we move all Spring Quarter classes online and cancel all Spring events/activities, including commencement 2020. Although that was the best solution to avoid the spread of COVID-19, it deprived me and many other graduating seniors every single "last" moment we were supposed to have. In a matter of hours I found out that I had to move my entire life back home within the next 7 days, I would never get to say good-bye to my friends, professors, and classmates, and that I wouldn't be able to graduate.


There were so many questions running through my head that morning like "how does online class work with my studio classes? How are we going to finish our Senior Film? Will I even graduate? Should I just pack up everything and leave forever? When do I have to move out? Is this even worth it anymore? What was the point?!" I was furious. I don't think I've ever cried that hard in so long. My heart was so broken and it was extremely hard to come to terms with. Everyone told me to calm down, to not lose hope, or to just keep moving forward, but nothing they could say would make me feel better in that moment. Just like many of my problems, I just had to... "get over it."


For the past year I had my entire Spring Quarter planned out perfectly and to my knowledge, I had ten more weeks to enjoy it all. I made a list of everything I wanted to do or never had the chance to do. I was going to miss out on my last graduation photo shoot with my friends, my last birthday celebration in Savannah, my last friend dates, my last Sand Arts Festival and Sidewalk Art Festival, my last senior showcase, my last time seeing my professors, and so much more. The most heartbreaking of them all was that I will never get to walk at my graduation. It wasn't fair. How could a virus just take away some of the most memorable moments I will ever have in my life?


I was so overwhelmed by my feelings the moment I opened the box my graduation robes came in. Still in disbelief, I decided to try them on. As I was looking in the mirror, tears started falling from my eyes. My heart ached for more than just the fact that I wasn't going to walk across the stage to receive my diploma, but because I will never have the chance to stand in font of 40,000 people and prove to my family and friends that all my hard work and their investment in my dreams was actually worth something. What an amazing moment that I will never get the chance to have because that chance was taken away from me too early.


“I hope we can see each other again one day” was the response I got from all of my classmates and friends that afternoon. Because of this outbreak, we‘ve come to realize that we were never going to get to say our proper goodbyes or even see each other again in person. Before I left Monty that afternoon, I ran into as my professor’s classrooms with tears running down my face just so I could thank them for all that they’ve done for me. This would be the last time I would probably see my professors in person and I broke. They asked me “Why are you crying?” and as we all came to the same sad realization that our time here together is ending, tears started selling up in their eyes too. I walked out of Monty shortly after my last final and I was only able to sadly wave back to those who saw me leave. As I left the premises, I rolled the window down and the warm Georgia sun beamed on my face as if it was telling me “You’re finally on Spring Break!” ...but I knew it wasn’t just a “break”.


An hour later I boarded my plane hoping that I was just having a terrible nightmare and when I would wake up, everything would be back to how it was the day before. Unfortunately, that’s not how life works. I couldn’t handle all the “congratulations!” comments I was getting on my sarcastic “I guess I graduated” Instagram post because deep in my heart I knew that it was all just a ploy for me to cope with my disappointment. I didn’t have the heart to tell my friends it was just a joke, rather I would just reply with “Thank you, but I wish it were true.”


...

After the events of March 12, I’ve come to realize many things.


With all this hurt, I can’t help but try to search for some kind of answer as to why this had to happen, why it was me, why life had to be so...hard. I sit here writing this not to make you feel bad for me, to complain about life being unfair, nor as a cry for help. I’m writing because my voice matters.


My physical time at SCAD gave me more than I would've ever gotten from my last 10 weeks there. Yeah, we're missing out on all our 'last' moments, we won't ever get the closure we want, and we won't get the satisfaction of walking across a stage and receiving our diploma, but there's so much more to take into consideration than all the 'bad' stuff. We were given not only a creative education, but we were blessed with some of the most amazing and talented friends, lifelong connections to the industry, and the most unforgettable memories. If it wasn't for my friends, professors, and peers and what they've done for me, I don't think I would be coming to this realization as fast.


Yeah. I'm angry, but there's only so much that we, as students, can do at this point. Yeah. There's so many unanswered questions that we may never get real answers to, but that doesn't mean we can't remain hopeful. This situation is really out of our hands and we probably won't be able to come to terms with it on our own. It may be hard to believe , but we have some the greatest support systems and we have to trust. Life is not fair and it will never be fair. We can't always get what we want, and trust me during the last few months, I had to learn that the hard way. So we must trust that God has a greater plan for us than this.


To all the students...

who experienced this tragedy or anything similar, I'm sorry. I just want to let you know that there's more to this than we realize. I understand that it is hard to accept and we may never find the will to accept it, but we must keep moving forward. Don't let your anger consume you because all that energy could be used towards doing something more productive. Don't worry so much friends! (or else you will develop wrinkles faster haha)


To all my professors...

who are working tirelessly to solve these problems for us, you guys are amazing. I'm sorry that you were also thrown into this situation and faced with changing your way of life just as we have. Please keep your students in mind for the decisions you make concerning our classes, and please help us help you. Thank you for using your talents and passion to help us find ourselves as artists and for helping me find my true potential in this world. Lastly, don't lose hope and keep moving forward.


To all my SCAD friends...

thank you for everything. Thank you for supporting me in whatever I do and helping me grow into the person I am today. You are truly my best friends and some of the most talented individuals I have ever met on this planet. I will never forget what you've taught me and all the silly memories that we've made. Our story is not over and we are going to do the most amazing things! We will get to where we want to be in life and I hope you know that I will always have your backs and I know you will do the same for me. Let's finish strong and don't forget to keep moving forward.


To the anyone reading this...

Time stops for no one so we must keep moving forward. Take advantage of this time to spend with your family and friends, improve your yourselves, and grow as a human being. Life's too short and good things take time. Keep your heads up everyone, let's support each other, and be willing to help each other out during this hard time. I'll be praying for you all and I'll always be here for you. Please stay healthy and WASH YOUR HANDS.


- liz