When I first decided I wanted to write for the Odyssey, I was going into my senior year at the University of Maine. I had always been an avid reader of Odyssey articles, whether it was to seek advice, comfort, or sole entertainment. I was always inspired by how raw and honest each article was, and I really wanted to have the chance to write such types of articles as well. When I applied and later got the call that I had made it onto the Odyssey team at UMaine, I was ecstatic! I felt like now was finally the time I could share my innermost thoughts and feelings publicly and work on becoming a better writer.
I have always loved to write. Since the day I first picked up a pencil, writing has been a passion of mine. Now as an Odyssey member, I knew this was my chance to be truly heard.
I began by writing solely political articles, as I was a political science student and loved to shed light on controversial topics. My first article was about the then-recent presidential election. I was full of nerves the day it got published, and rightfully so, as my post drew in many critics. Facebook is a shark-tank of sorts, everyone there is waiting for just the right bait to come out and attack. However, I loved the fact that my opinions were being formally materialized for everyone to see. Pretty much anyone in the world could read my article, which served as an inspiration to keep writing.
What started as a political-only "blog" of sorts slowly evolved into a diary-like platform. I found that writing about whatever hardship I had been going through at the time helped me process it and move forward. Writing is very therapeutic, and I wasn't ashamed or embarrassed to put my private emotions out in the open, though I had received much backlash for it from many.
Yet what kept me motivated to keep pushing the envelope and staying true to my word-literally, was my amazing, influential Odyssey team. We all would share our topics for the week and vent about any criticisms we may have received after one of our articles had been published. I have been very fortunate to have such a supportive, caring team of Odyssey writers, else I likely would've regressed back to writing neutral articles.
So as weeks turned to months, writing for Odyssey felt like second nature. The pride I would feel once an article went public was indescribable. Looking back now at the 70+ articles I wrote, I can literally be transported back to a certain point in my life with every past article. I can see how much I've grown as a person and can acknowledge that I successfully was able to overcome certain obstacles I never thought possible.
Writing, just like time, heals everything.
The Odyssey saw me through the toughest times of my life, and no matter how uncertain things may have seemed at the time, what was for sure was the fact that I had the written word to fall back on. With each article that I wrote, I felt like a weight had been lifted. And not only that but also knowing that any particular article may have served to help someone else who may have been going through a similar situation, only inspired me more.
So, my decision to stop writing for the Odyssey came with great difficulty, as it has become such a huge part of my life. The adult world is very hectic, and responsibilities pile up as fast as bills. Lately, I just felt like I haven't been putting the time and effort into writing articles like I did during college. I owe it to the Odyssey community to be honest, as a privilege like this should never be seen as a chore.
I am so unbelievably grateful to have had this experience for the past year and a half of my life. Now, I have a permanent online library that represents who I truly am, and for the rest of my life I can look back at these articles and relive some of those memories. The Odyssey helped me to grow emotionally, and I met so many amazing, inspiring people along the way.
But, like all odysseys, it is time for this one to end.
Thank you to everyone who has supported my writing and read my articles. You have no idea how happy it made me feel to hear someone say how much they loved a certain article or how relatable another one was. Thank you to my Odyssey team for always encouraging me to write from the heart and never be too afraid to speak my mind.
And lastly, thank you to Odyssey, for serving as a safe, encouraging place for young people to voice their opinions and ideas freely. I will forever be thankful for this journey of growth, reflection, and expression.
Off to the next odyssey.