Before JennSimpsonPens

Before JennSimpsonPens

Reflecting on my year as an Odyssey contributor...

On June 27, 2016, I took a bold step forward and published my first article online for the world to see. As an Odyssey contributor, I made a promise to myself that I would try this whole "weekly article" business for a year, no matter what. Some weeks were easier than others. On more than one occasion, I felt like giving up, or that the stress of another weekly deadline wasn't worth it, but I pushed on. Now, here I am, one year later, looking back at a portfolio of 47 (counting this one) posts. I'm somewhat dumbstruck.

I've covered a broad range of topics over the last year, and while some received more attention than others, I'm pleased with my collection of work. Having permission to write about whatever I wanted was amazing (and sometimes, overwhelming). This is an experience I reflect back on fondly. It's been invaluable to have such freedom along with a safety net of editors and a support system of other writers (both for accountability and encouragement). Honestly, I would highly recommend this experience to any aspiring writers who are thinking about branching out.

As for me, this experience has given me the tools and experience I didn't even know I was lacking a year ago to start my own blog (JennSimpsonPens)! At the time of this post, it's still in its infancy, but with the discipline of writing a weekly article for Odyssey, I now know I can handle following a blog schedule.

It's been a great journey (dare I say an odyssey) of learning for me over the last year. Thank you, Odyssey. I couldn't have found my courage without you!

My Odyssey Articles

Disney College Program: DCP Lessons

Just Buy The Toaster

Cry Over The Ranch Dressing

Give Thanks Together

It's A Snake, Sweetheart (Part 1)

It's A Snake, Sweetheart (Part 2)

Movies and Entertainment

Dear Internet, You're Wrong About "Ghostbusters"

Here's The Scoop About "Ghostbusters"

"Book Of The Atlantic" Sets Sail This June

7 Reasons Why You Should See "The Ring" Before You Die

11 Reasons We LOVE Eleven

Blind Date With A Thriller

Food and Drink

Psycho Cupcakes: 13 To-Die-For Treats

Cider And Spice And Everything Nice

Nailed It: Stormtrooper Cupcakes

11 Ways To Dress Up Those Leftovers

What's On Your Cookie Table?

What Blue Apron Doesn't Tell You

Blue Apron Review: How's The Catfish?

Blue Apron Review: Bolognese With Bae

I Don't Want To Give Your Kid A Cheese Sandwich

Free Lunch Might Be Off The Table


12 Ways My Cat Helps Me Procrastinate

The Cat Who Plays Favorites


Why I'm Never Rude To The Cashier

When I Found Dory

Teach Them To Be Kind

Count Your Blessings

Whatever Happened To Our CHILL?


3 Types Of WWE Fans We All Know

Tag Team Ministry


Today's Goal: Stay Employed

Beware The Boss


Writing Lessons I Learned From "Hamilton"

Hilarious Homonyms

Ideas Are Like Rocks

Before JennSimpsonPens


Long Distance Relationships Suck

Best Big Sister: The Haircut

When You Marry A Writer


Buy A Home, They Said. It'll Be Fun, They Said.

Dragged To The Doctor's Office

15 Inspiring Quotes From #GLS16

How Do You Costume?

Nailed It: DIY Tree Skirt

Goldilumps And The 3 Bras

Easy Pittsburghese

Well, That's A First

Cover Image Credit: Jennifer Simpson

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It's Time To Thank Your First Roommate

Not the horror story kind of roommate, but the one that was truly awesome.

Nostalgic feelings have recently caused me to reflect back on my freshman year of college. No other year of my life has been filled with more ups and downs, and highs and lows, than freshman year. Throughout all of the madness, one factor remained constant: my roommate. It is time to thank her for everything. These are only a few of the many reasons to do so, and this goes for roommates everywhere.

You have been through all the college "firsts" together.

If you think about it, your roommate was there through all of your first college experiences. The first day of orientation, wishing you luck on the first days of classes, the first night out, etc. That is something that can never be changed. You will always look back and think, "I remember my first day of college with ____."

You were even each other's first real college friend.

Months before move in day, you were already planning out what freshman year would be like. Whether you previously knew each other, met on Facebook, or arranged to meet in person before making any decisions, you made your first real college friend during that process.

SEE ALSO: 18 Signs You're A Little Too Comfortable With Your Best Friends

The transition from high school to college is not easy, but somehow you made it out on the other side.

It is no secret that transitioning from high school to college is difficult. No matter how excited you were to get away from home, reality hit at some point. Although some people are better at adjusting than others, at the times when you were not, your roommate was there to listen. You helped each other out, and made it through together.

Late night talks were never more real.

Remember the first week when we stayed up talking until 2:00 A.M. every night? Late night talks will never be more real than they were freshman year. There was so much to plan for, figure out, and hope for. Your roommate talked, listened, laughed, and cried right there with you until one of you stopped responding because sleep took over.

You saw each other at your absolute lowest,

It was difficult being away from home. It hurt watching relationships end and losing touch with your hometown friends. It was stressful trying to get in the swing of college level classes. Despite all of the above, your roommate saw, listened, and strengthened you.

...but you also saw each other during your highest highs.

After seeing each other during the lows, seeing each other during the highs was such a great feeling. Getting involved on campus, making new friends, and succeeding in classes are only a few of the many ways you have watched each other grow.

There was so much time to bond before the stresses of college would later take over.

Freshman year was not "easy," but looking back on it, it was more manageable than you thought at the time. College only gets busier the more the years go on, which means less free time. Freshman year you went to lunch, dinner, the gym, class, events, and everything else possible together. You had the chance to be each other's go-to before it got tough.

No matter what, you always bounced back to being inseparable.

Phases of not talking or seeing each other because of business and stress would come and go. Even though you physically grew apart, you did not grow apart as friends. When one of you was in a funk, as soon as it was over, you bounced right back. You and your freshman roommate were inseparable.

The "remember that one time, freshman year..." stories never end.

Looking back on freshman year together is one of my favorite times. There are so many stories you have made, which at the time seemed so small, that bring the biggest laughs today. You will always have those stories to share together.

SEE ALSO: 15 Things You Say To Your Roommates Before Going Out

The unspoken rule that no matter how far apart you grow, you are always there for each other.

It is sad to look back and realize everything that has changed since your freshman year days. You started college with a clean slate, and all you really had was each other. Even though you went separate ways, there is an unspoken rule that you are still always there for each other.

Your old doom room is now filled with two freshman trying to make it through their first year. They will never know all the memories that you made in that room, and how it used to be your home. You can only hope that they will have the relationship you had together to reflect on in the years to come.

Cover Image Credit: Katie Ward

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The Graduation Speech I Never Got To Share

I never received the opportunity to share my speech at my high school graduation, so here I am, sharing it with the next class.

I never received the opportunity to speak at my own graduation, so I thought maybe I could instill wisdom to the upcoming graduation class of 2018:

1,460 days of wondering, wondering if we would make it to this day. Today marks the culmination of our 1,460 day journey — we are the graduating class of 2017.

Graduation is one of those awkward times in our lives when we are torn between the joy of our memories and the excitement of our future. Should we look back on what were the greatest four years of our lives, or instead, should we focus on the next stage in this journey called life?

We’ve been impatiently waiting for this day for four years — and now, we just want to hit pause. We want to slow it down and enjoy the last fleeting moments. Our lives will be forever altered after we toss our caps into the air.

They say that high school is the best time of our lives. For some of us, this isn’t the case. But, whether some of us will admit it or not, there are things we are all thankful for throughout these past four years.

We are thankful for the everlasting memories, the spontaneous adventures (even if they are to McDonald’s at midnight for brain food) or spray painting the camel that sits in front of the school. We are thankful for the people we meet, good and bad, because no matter what, they each played a small part in sculpting us into the people we are today.

The optimistic take on life is having one heck of a time until life comes back and punches them in the face. The pessimist would go through life and punch oneself before life was even able to make a fist.

One of the flaws in human nature is to focus on the negative things in life. Because of this, over the past few years, almost all of us have been sitting around groaning about how excited we are to leave this town behind us.

We’ve lost a lot of beautiful souls to demons hidden behind their smile. Our closest friends have moved to states on the opposite side of the country and left us to fend for ourselves. That dreadful walk from the junior lot in all kinds of weather is one that I’m beyond happy to see disappear in my rearview mirror.

Let’s be honest, all those movies we watched growing up, gave us such unrealistic expectations about high school which fueled our negativity. Growing up here, the underdog doesn’t get the high school hottie. At one point or another, we all imagined ourselves in the shoes of the kid who was always overlooked but came out on top at the end.

Even though that may not have been the case, watching those movies and putting ourselves into perspective ignited a flare of hope. That fire burned brighter and brighter every day for most of us. For others, it was too quickly extinguished. It may not seem like it, but those souls are here with us today in our hearts and they will never be forgotten.

Let us not concentrate on the evils of high school, but let us turn to the good. I don’t know about you guys, but I’m going to miss the many clichés of high school: those enthusiastic taunting screams from our student section under the Friday night lights, the frantic 38 minutes at lunch we’ve all spent going to get fast food and back while still getting a good parking spot, sitting back and enjoying a bowl of popcorn while soaking in all the latest drama and love triangles, hollering at our friends at the opposite end of the halls, or submitting that paper at 11:58 AM to still walk away with a passing grade.

We entered high school four short years ago as an unwritten book eager to fill the pages. A book that would be written in our own terms. The diploma that we receive represents success and achievement, but we must remember more of the journey that accompanied this achievement – both the heartache and happiness.

The diploma itself is gently tucked away in the appendix of our book, while the journey to attain it fills page after page.

I was told that with every speech, advice is to be given. So, here is my advice: This isn’t the time to make hard, fast decisions. The moment you cross this stage, be a little reckless and carefree.

Go make mistakes, major in philosophy, get on the wrong flight, and fall in love over and over and over again. Hold on to your old friends. Kiss your Mama. Admit what your dreams are. Don’t beat yourself up if you don’t know what you’re going to do tomorrow, work hard and don’t be lazy (procrastination is the exception), and put away your darn phone every once in awhile. Be nice to jerks, because we still don’t know the criteria for getting into heaven yet.

Each and every one of us was meant to do something big, something life-changing. I cannot wait to see what paths you all take, and the obstacles you overcome.

I spent many nights writing this speech until my eyes went cross-eyed. Never was there a time when I was sure where I was going with it, but one thought kept returning to me like a broken record. That thought being: thank you.

Now, I know I’m not close with all of you, but I am thankful for every single person sitting in front of me. You have taught me extremely valuable lessons these past four years, lessons I don’t even remember learning. Lessons that no one else could ever teach me, lessons that I will take with me for the rest of my life.

I’ve said it a thousand times already and I will probably say it a thousand times more: thank you, Class of 2017! And may I be amongst the first to say, congratulations!

Cover Image Credit: Pixabay

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