What Over 730 Days At Odyssey Has Given Me

What Over 730 Days At Odyssey Has Given Me

Having written with Odyssey for more than two years, I've seen, and learned, a thing or two.

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As I sit here writing my 77th article for the Odyssey Online, I marvel at my two-year stint with the organization.

When I began writing for the Odyssey at the close of July 2016, everything was in a state of flux. I was preparing to leave my home and my state which had been my abode for near 18 years to move 800 miles south to live in a strange city amongst fellow strangers.

As a nation, the United States was in a bind between a boisterous billionaire demagogue and a corrupt bureaucrat looking to forge a win by means of a political dynasty. Not knowing who the next leader of the free world would be had everyone walking on eggshells, with the added knowledge that finding out who was next wouldn't necessarily alleviate any of that anxiety.

And again in my own personal life, I was in the midst of a contentious romantic relationship, which had its own inefficacies exacerbated by the two aforementioned instances of chaos. Not only did we have a degree of political disagreement, but we were also going to colleges separated by extreme distances: me to Atlanta and she to St. Louis.

This was the world that I occupied at the beginning of my Odyssey career. It was a time of great tumult in my life and, as we all know, such strife usually breeds great creative potential. Of course, this sort of broader picture wasn't in my mind at the time. I was much more concerned with what sort of meal plan I'd be getting and if I'd get along with my roommate than with any kind of lofty blogging ambitions.

Still, when Ryan Fan came knocking, I was eager to join. I was already an avid writer and with everything going on, I definitely had some things to say.

Odyssey gave me a voice.

Maybe that sounds corny, but really in the beginning and through to today that was my objective: to say something of significance. To be heard.

Now, I'll be upfront with you. In my two years, I've written my fair share of Buzzfeed-esque, top 10, clickbait-y articles. Yet, in the majority of cases I've used Odyssey as a platform to pontificate ideas worth sharing, from depression to love to sports culture to the biggest political issues of the day. And in the majority of cases I've gotten fantastic feedback from all points of view and wonderful support on virtually everything I've written.

And that sort of repetitive production, turning out an article per week for the better part of my career, has strengthened me as a writer in incredible ways.

I think it's also not very much a secret that motivation (or lack thereof) is one of the greatest opponents of writers everywhere. So, to have an entire community out in support of you (and more importantly an editor gently nudging you along) more than helps in that department. The one per week system has forced me to be more deliberate with my writing, not to mention that the only way to get better at something is, in fact, to do it.

As I look back appreciatively at what Odyssey has given to me these two years gone, I can't help but to remember that growth. That I've gone from merely hitting an issue head on to examining it from many different angles in a more nuanced stance is something that Odyssey is directly responsible for.

As I'm staring down the next two years of college I find myself even more appreciative. Appreciative of my time at an institution like Emory and appreciative of this opportunity to cry out into the void.

The future at points may be uncertain and it is more than sure to be tumultuous, but as long as I have something to say and somewhere to say it I can rest assured in my ability to be a part of the conversation and, more powerfully, to shape the future.

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The Evolution Of Your Starbucks Order, From Middle School To College, As Told By An Avid Coffee Drinker

It's expensive, but damn it's good. And also way better then Dunkin'.

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We can all remember our first cup of that sweet sweet bean juice that has changed our lives for the better. Whether you need it every morning to get a fresh start on the day or every other day to ~treat yourself~, we can all agree that coffee is a necessity. I remember those trips to the mall in middle school where I could practically hear Starbucks whispering sweet nothings to me all the way from the parking garage outside, but just like I've aged well after middle school, so has my coffee taste. Grab that cup of happiness, and let us stroll through memory lane together, shall we?

1. The vanilla bean frappucino

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I think it is a safe assumption to say that every coffee drinker starts here. In middle school, these things were all the rage and honestly, so was that double chocolately chip frap as well, but anymore it might just hurt your stomach.

2. The pumpkin spice latte

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Although still very basic, it rarely ever had that "coffee" flavor, so you were still able to choke it down as an eighth-grader while still looking super cool for holding that sacred white cup. Honestly, I will still order this one like once a year with no shame because it is a classic.

3. The peppermint mocha (or other holiday drink)

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We all know those chic holiday cups that Starbucks so generously graces us with every year (shout out to that red cup from a few years ago that everyone was RAGED about), and they all have such delicious contents. The peppermint mocha is a staple to the holiday season, and also to your coffee timeline. It was probably the first time you enjoyed a coffee drink that had a hint of bean flavor.

4. The white chocolate mocha

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At this point, all of those holiday drinks are gone, and the fake coffee stans are in their state of depression until fall comes back around. BUT, the rest of us who need to be fueled by java are looking at other alternatives, so at this point, you have probably turned to something like the white chocolate mocha. You're probably growing fonder of the coffee taste as well.

5. The vanilla/caramel iced coffee

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We get it, you're sick of hot drinks and the coffee hitting your teeth when you drink it, so you have moved away from them in order to try iced coffee. This might be the largest part of your coffee-lution, and maybe even your greatest... but let's be honest, it was also your most expensive because you drank SO MUCH of it.

6. The pink drink

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Y'all, at this point, you have been a frequent flyer at your local Starbs. The baristas probably know your name, and they know exactly how much vanilla syrup to put into your iced coffee, but THEN, Starbucks pulls this wonder out of their magic little green apron. You tried it the first time, and then you were hooked.

7. Cold brew

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Just when we thought Starbucks was magical enough, they decided to do more for us, as if we even deserved it. When Starbucks introduced Cold Brew, it was so hard to get your hands on it because everyone was buying it so quickly. Oh, and when they ask for cream, by now you say no because you want that full, bold flavor of black coffee. 10/10 on the coffee scale.

8. The espressonade

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OK, I think I may have coined this term myself, and you may not have ever even had this. But it is a lemonade with a shot of espresso. It doesn't matter if it was part of your evolution because it is part of mine, and it's delicious.

9. Black coffee

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Hot or cold, it doesn't matter, it just depends on the weather. At this point in your timeline, you are sick of all the extraness, and you might even be bold enough to order an Americano. Regardless, black coffee will steal your heart, and once you try it, you won't want anything else.

10. Nitro cold brew

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Oh, you thought cold brew was good? That's funny, how about nitro cold brew? Don't ruin it with cream or flavored syrup, just sip that smooth yum yum juice and enjoy the rest of your day, because wow is this stuff good.

Believe me, we all start somewhere, for most of us it was frappucinos, or maybe it was those glass travel drinks that you can get from the gas station. The coffee community is very accepting, so just hang out in your local coffee shop and soak up the aromas.

Just remember folks, always #RefuseTheStraw, and if you don't post your drink on Instagram, then it does not count.

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I Want To Live A Life Where I Am Unapologetically Me And Happy About It

I have been doing things for others for far too long, and I need a break.

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As the semester is wrapping up, I have been feeling overwhelmed and a bit stuck. So I am taking my life and living it for myself. A lot of the time, I was doing things because I thought it was what I should be doing, not what I believed I wanted to do.

Enough is enough.

I want to live a life where I don't look over my shoulder all the time to see who is judging me. I don't want to live a life where every other night I am wide awake in my bed, crying about all the stress I have caused myself. This is the time for me to be selfish. For me to only do things that make me happy and that help me in life.

I know that might sound terrible and some people may form a different opinion about me. The great thing about this new revelation I am having is that I don't care. I have spent so many years caring on what others thought of me that I let it consume me and dictate my life. I can't do that anymore.

I want to live in a life where I can look back at myself and like what I see. I want to better myself, and as I am sitting here in my living room while my roommate plays gospel music in her room, I believe I can be this person.

This is a small reminder to myself and to many others that they should think for themselves, live life for themselves because it is their skin, their hopes, and dreams. It does not matter how long it will take you to become your true self, as long as you are progressing, you are smiling more and you are not letting the burdens of the world get to you.

If you are not, then you need to take a step back and take life 20 minutes at a time in order to conquer the rest of the day.

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