And That's A Wrap On 2017

And That's A Wrap On 2017

What a year!

2017 has come to an end, officially marking another year in the books. We approach 2018 renewed and refreshed, bound by a sense of eagerness in hopes of finally fulfilling one of those New Year’s resolutions that have been in the works for the past three years. As ready as I am to ambitiously dive into a year full of fresh perspectives and new opportunities, I have found myself taking much time to reflect on 2017.

It was what seemed to have been an incredibly influential time in my life, and I have walked away from last year with a greater understanding of a knowledge that was once left untouched. 2017 has constituted nothing but change-a word that I once cringed at the sound of. Yet, to this day, I am nothing but grateful for the changes that have come my way.

I could not begin to list the number of lessons I have learned within this past year. Frankly, it would take a year for me to explain each of them in detail. Since I have been given the wonderful opportunity to share my thoughts on this social media platform, I have taken the time to speak about a variety of topics that I hold close to my heart. I truly believe that writing for the Odyssey has allowed me to prioritize many of the ideals that I value, as I am responsible for creating the content that I share with readers each week. In each of the pieces I have written within the past few months, I aimed to incorporate even the smallest of lessons I had learned in hopes of sharing my personal experiences with others.

Throughout last year, I found myself faced with numerous bouts of self-doubt, ultimately forcing me to address in my own mind ideas such as self-reflection, standards of beauty, and the definition of success. There were many moments that I felt extremely uncomfortable pressing the “submit” button on these articles, as I was sharing my inner-most thoughts and opinions with people I go to school with, people I am friends with, people I am related to. I have been blessed to receive positive affirmations and support in my pursuit of writing, but for some reason, I still felt as though there was something missing.

After glancing back at these articles and digging a bit deeper, I came to a realization. The real thing missing? Clarity. There have been instances where these writings seemed foreign and vague even to me. Ideally, I was conveying the messages I wanted to, just not to the fullest extent. Surely, I attempted to write about topics that would touch people, or at least get them thinking. In reality? There was no sense of closure to these pieces. Time and time again I had briefly mentioned what the takeaway should be, possibly overlooking what it truly was. In the spirit of this closure, and as my first piece of 2018, I would like to address my own “takeaway” from this past year:

I believe in self-care. I believe in waking up each morning, looking in the mirror, and feeling satisfied with the person that I am. I believe that hard work creates character, and have seen that simply “getting by” is no longer an option in this world. I believe in independence and its hand in fostering growth. I believe in family and in friendship, seeing now that offering your ear or a piece of advice can make an incredible impact on somebody’s life.

I believe in love, both in the happiness and in the heart break it may bring. I believe in gratitude and in displaying your thanks and your loyalty to those who have supported you. Primarily, I have come to believe in change. I no longer cringe at the sound of the word, or label it with a negative connotation. Instead, I have learned to embrace it. Change provides opportunity, and can lead to a happiness that remains unknown to us until we choose to walk through its door. My priorities have changed, my thought process has changed, and I have changed.

One year ago, I would never have known how to facilitate or express these ideals, let alone put them into words. One year later, my focus became sharing them with others.

Cover Image Credit: Gina Brennan

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PSA: Keep Your Body-Negative Opinions Away From Little Girls This Summer

But our own baggage shouldn't be shoved on to those we surround ourselves with.


It's officially swimsuit season, y'all.

The temperature is rising, the sun is bright and shining, and a trip to the beach couldn't look more appealing than it does right now. This is the time of year that many of us have been rather impatiently waiting for. It's also the time of year that a lot of us feel our most self-conscious.

I could take the time to remind you that every body is a bikini body. I could type out how everyone is stunning in their own unique way and that no one should feel the need to conform to a certain standard of beauty to feel beautiful, male or female. I could sit here and tell you that the measurement of your waistline is not a reflection of your worth. I completely believe every single one of these things.

Hell, I've shared these exact thoughts more times than I can count. This time around, however, I'm not going to say all these things. Instead, I'm begging you to push your insecurities to the side and fake some confidence in yourself when you're in front of others.


Because our negative self-image is toxic and contagious and we're spreading this negative thinking on to others.

We're all guilty of this, we're with family or a friend and we make a nasty comment about some aspect of our appearance, not even giving a single thought to the impact our words have on the person with us. You might think that it shouldn't bother them- after all, we're not saying anything bad about them! We're just expressing our feelings about something we dislike about ourselves. While I agree that having conversations about our insecurities and feelings are important for our mental and emotional health, there is a proper and improper way of doing it. An open conversation can leave room for growth, acceptance, understanding, and healing. Making a rude or disheartening remark about yourself is destructive not only to yourself, but it will make the person you are saying these things around question their own self worth or body image by comparing themselves to you.

My little sister thinks she's "fat." She doesn't like how she looks. To use her own words, she thinks she's "too chubby" and that she "looks bad in everything."

She's 12 years old.

Do you want to know why she has this mindset? As her older sister, I failed in leading her by example. There were plenty of times when I was slightly younger, less sure of myself, and far more self-conscious than I am now, that I would look in the mirror and say that I looked too chubby, that my body didn't look good enough, that I wished I could change the size of my legs or stomach.

My little sister had to see the older sibling she looks up to, the big sis she thinks always looks beautiful, say awful and untrue things about herself because her own sense of body image was warped by media, puberty, and comparing herself to others.

My negativity rubbed off onto her and shaped how she looks at herself. I can just imagine her watching me fret over how I look thinking, "If she thinks she's too big, what does that make me?"

It makes me feel sick.

All of us are dealing with our own insecurities. It takes some of us longer than others to view ourselves in a positive, loving light. We're all working on ourselves every day, whether it be mentally, physically, or emotionally. But our own baggage shouldn't be shoved on to those we surround ourselves with, our struggles and insecurities should not form into their own burdens.

Work on yourself in private. Speak kindly of yourself in front of others. Let your positivity, real or not, spread to others instead of the bad feelings we have a bad habit of letting loose.

The little girls of the world don't need your or my negative self-image this summer. Another kid doesn't need to feel worthless because we couldn't be a little more loving to ourselves and a lot more conscious of what we say out loud.

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The Struggle of Taking Classes During the Summer

It can put a bit of a damper on summer fun


To everyone reading: I hope you're having a nice, relaxing summer. Even if you're working I hope you can get a few days off to hang out with friends, go to the beach, and have some nice downtime. Not me. I am currently in the process of completing two four-week long summer classes. I'm taking them now to get ahead for next semester and to keep my overall schedule on track. It certainly isn't fun, but the reminder that it is only four weeks is what really keeps me going. If you are in the same boat as me, you'll relate to this list like no one else can; if you're not taking summer classes, don't let this list scare you, but use it to mentally prepare yourself for any you may have in the future.

1. Studying and homework

The homework isn't too bad with some summer classes just because you don't have time for a lot of intense projects. Still, since the class is so short you have to do some kind of homework pretty much every day. Make a schedule and spread it out so you don't get too behind.

2. Actually going to class

I am in two classes. One meets in person every day from 10 am to 11:45 am. The other is online. Let me be the first to say that getting up for class during the normal semesters is hard enough, but knowing my little brother gets to sleep in while I have to wake up early and go class is a real motivation suppressant.

I will say, though, it's kind of nice being on campus when it's basically empty.

3. No going out...

You'll probably be a little down because you might not be able to really go out at all during the time you're in class. For me, I go to lecture every morning, come home and do homework for that class, then do homework for my online class. I have some free time on the weekends, but I try to use those lecture-free days to study or work on papers.

4. But being super busy

Even though you might not be able to go out like a summer off, you'll be keeping yourself busy with all that super fun homework I mentioned.

5. Stress

Yes, summer classes can be a little stressful and it's pretty much all thanks to how fast-paced they are. Just do what I do: make a homework and project schedule as soon as you can and remind yourself how short it is.

Summer classes are not the worst thing in the world, and if you choose to take one at some point it won't be absolutely horrible. The nice thing about them is it's like ripping off a Band-Aid; it may be a little painful and annoying, but it's over so fast you don't suffer. Pick your class and professor wisely and get down to business; taking the class means you're one step closer to graduation!

So, to anyone else taking a summer class: good luck and you got this!

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