In June 2016, one week after my high school graduation, I published my first article as a writer for Odyssey. It was right after the horrible shooting at the Pulse nightclub took place, and I remember feeling extremely heavy hearted for all the innocent lives lost, but I was just as much afraid about the backlash the Muslim community would face. I mustered up all my feelings and wrote my first piece titled, “Why Guys Like the Orlando Shooter Threaten My American Identity.” Before it was published, I was anxious, but most importantly, I felt relieved because writing that piece allowed me to collect my thoughts and express them in a manner where others could relate as well.
Originally, I had no intention to join a publication. Writing has always been something that I enjoyed but never to a point that I actually wanted to take time out for. I stumbled upon a Facebook recruitment post on the new Emory Class of 2020 page on Facebook and felt intrigued by the platform. I scanned the website and started to read some articles. It immediately stood out to me that there was no specific restriction to what one could write about.
From personal narratives to news stories to fictional pieces, Odyssey catered to all types of people who just needed an outlet for their thoughts, and I appreciated that. As someone who is not apathetic and cares a lot about what is happening around in the world, I thought it would be fair to give this a shot and see how it works out. Once I became a part of the team, I immediately felt the pressure to write something that would be “good.” But as previously stated, the Pulse shooting came about, and it made me forget about writing a good piece to simply wanting to write about what I had on my mind and wanted to communicate to others.
It was great to be able to write about whatever the good and bad was going around me and then reflecting upon it, getting the facts, and getting it all out. I knew what I was writing was helping me, but I didn’t understand the power of writing until one of my articles accomplished something I would have never imagined.
Towards the end of August, just a week or so after I started my first year of college, I heard from my roommate how one of her friends at high school had their assistant principal blame girls at their school for the boys’ low grades. Appalled by the official’s behavior, I obtained the audio and wrote an article calling the official out.
Before I knew it, it had over 12,000 shares overnight and it had started a conversation that wasn’t there before. I didn’t quite understand the scope of the platform until I received messages from Houston’s news sources on Facebook asking me to comment on the situation and learning that local news channel went to the school to interview the students about the incident.
Within a couple days, the article had been shared over 23,000 times and the story was being covered by news channels in Houston. And because of this, the school district officially released a statement condemning the school official’s words and ensuring that action would be taken to prevent future scenarios from taking place. I would say throughout my time at Odyssey, this was my biggest accomplishment, and I’m thankful that this platform allowed me to make a difference.
Unfortunately, as the school year picked up, it became increasingly hard to keep up with the consecutive articles. I had to go from writing about topics I really cared about to Buzzfeed style lists where I was simply creating content for the sake of creating it, rather than taking time and effort into things I cared about. I think when it hit me that I no longer enjoyed writing, I knew it was time for me to stop. Although I will miss writing for Odyssey, I am grateful for the opportunity it gave me to have an outlet for my thoughts.
I am also thankful for the people that I met through this platform. I was able to bond with the other writers and get to know them better in person. I would also like to thank my editor, Ryan Fan, who had a big hand in a lot my success and just me improving as a writer. I admire him a lot because of his hard work and devotion to his job and how much time he invests in getting to know his writers. Ryan made sure to get to know me and help me out other than just Odyssey or writing-related issues. His encouragement and advice meant a lot to me, and I am glad I got to know someone like him through Odyssey.My time at Odyssey was fun regardless of how short lived it was, and I couldn’t be happier with myself for choosing to join it.