"Sometimes I remind myself that I almost skipped the party, that I almost went to a different college, that the whim of a minute could have changed everything and everyone." — Unknown
Odyssey has been a very big part of my college career. I have been fortunate enough to get the opportunity to share my thoughts, feelings, and beliefs with the rest of the world. Some of my articles have gone viral, some have made people laugh, and some I now look back and laugh at. I reached one million views, which was my goal from the time I started writing, which honestly, I never thought would actually happen. Odyssey also gave me pain, from people cussing me out and sending me death threats to one of the most beautiful writers I've ever had on my team passing away.
I asked myself one day why I started writing. I remember. I started writing because I originally wanted to publish something that I wrote for a class. I wanted to publish it because at the time I was a little freshman in college who had just quit the sport she loved, was going through mental health issues and thought that quitting was the biggest mistake of my life. I was miserable. All of my "friends" had gone away to school. I was at a community college that had about the same level of education that my high school did. I was wishing that I just would have played and was filled with regret. I was also wishing that I just would have gone to Missouri State because I would have been happier there.
This "miserable" girl wanted to do everything in her power to stop anyone from making the same mistake that she did, so she sat down and wrote out a letter to any potential athletes that did not want to play in college.
For a while, I held onto it, then I posted it on Twitter. After getting a lot of positive feedback on it, I decided to publish it. I really did not think that I would write many more articles after that, but we all know what happened from there.
This girl that I used to be was going through hell, honestly. I knew that something had to change, but I was so scared to move away from the one person in my life that I knew had my back no matter what (Zach, you're an angel). Missouri State was where I thought that I needed to be, but then I thought about it and decided to go somewhere closer to home, so I made the decision to transfer to SIUe.
My first semester there was hard. I quit my job that I had been at for three years that I absolutely loved. I did not feel as if I had any friends and I wanted to go home. I wanted to drop my sorority because I did not want to show up alone to the events. My second semester I was about to drop, then, someone posted in our sorority Facebook page asking if anyone would like to go on a spring break trip to South Padre Island. I thought about it for a second, then decided why not. That would be a great way to become close with a group of girls.
The trip came and the first day I spent wishing that I was back home. I actually did not go out that night with the rest of the girls because I was tired and wanted to sleep. I was fearful that I was going to be the "Debbie Downer" of the trip. The next day I decided that I needed to go out, although I wanted to go home. I missed my boyfriend a lot at that point and I was not sure if I was fitting in. Day by day, things got more fun. Day by day, I grew closer to the girls who I had no idea were going to be my best friends for the rest of my college life, and probably for the rest of my life.
Another big moment in college was when I broke up with my boyfriend. Let me be clear when I say this, he treated my with the most respect at all times and is a wonderful person inside and out, but I was in a different point in my life in which it was better for the both of us to not be together. There were times where I was not sure if I had made the right decision, but that one decision taught me a lot. It taught me that being alone is completely fine. It is fun. You truly never know yourself until you are completely alone not talking to anyone. Let me be clear when I say this: completely alone. You find yourself when you feel free but you also find yourself when its 1 a.m. and you have no one to talk to. You find yourself when you are out of your comfort zone. From that one decision, I learned how to be alone and that it is perfectly okay to not want anything.
My old teammate transferred into SIUe. She texted me out of the blue and asked if I was playing club soccer. I told her no. I missed try-outs. I thought I was too rusty and that there was no way I would be good enough. I played flag football for my sorority for fun, and an older girl on the team pulled me aside and started talking to me about club soccer. I told her that I wished that I would have (even though I didn't) and that I already missed try-outs.
"It's no big deal, I've seen you play football. I will talk to the president about you and see if I can get you on the team," was her response.
Needless to say, I ended up playing for four years, going to schools all over, and finally seeing my love for the game which I had once been burnt out on coming back. My decision to not play in college started to fade because although I was not getting scholarship money, I was able to play and still live the college life.
Eventually, my "single forever" phase started to wind down once I met someone. I did not plan on getting into a relationship in college again, it just kind of happened. This started out as one of the most amazing relationships I had ever been in, but then things changed. It had been years since I had felt the pain of what mental health issues actually felt like. I would always wonder "why me?" They came back quickly and they took me down harder than they ever have before. I thought I was going to be like this forever.
We broke up, I got off antidepressants and started going to therapy. I had tried therapy before, but none of them really seemed to clique with me. I found someone who has brought me back the confidence that I had not seen in so long. I thought that I had my confidence back when I was single and loving life in college, but I never knew what confidence really was. I realized that God had put that relationship in my life so that I could re-experience these issues. It was so that it could knock me down so that I could be built up stronger than I have ever been before. Without that extreme low, I never would have gotten to where I am today. Without that horrible feeling, I never would have had to go see my amazing therapist, and I never would have learned how to properly deal with pain.
Looking back today, as I write this, I am about to graduate. Through my time at SIUe I have learned a lot. Through Odyssey, I have gained a lot of experience in writing, editing, and even marketing. I have grown so much through it. Sometimes I go back and read my old articles and laugh. Sometimes I read them and I look at how much better I have gotten. Through soccer, I made so many friends. I made so many memories. Through my relationships, I learned incredibly difficult lessons that I would go through all again to end up where I am today. I learned what to put up with and what not to put up with. I learned lessons about Greek life (I rip on Greek life a lot) but they really are not all about partying.
There are so many positive things that the media does not like to talk about. If I never would have come to Illinois and joined a sorority, I truly never would have met my future bridesmaids. I truly found the person that I was meant to be in college.
And it all started from the decision that I thought would be the biggest mistake of my life.