An economist named Ziad K. Abdelnour once wrote, "For those who understand, no explanation is needed. For those who do not understand, no explanation is possible." I'm not sure of the context of that quote, but it's the best way I can think to express what it's like to work for Odyssey as an Editor-in-Chief.
I am in charge of a community that largely consists of students at the University of North Georgia in Dahlonega, but over the past year our creators have been students on the other UNG campuses and non-students as well. These people are brothers and sisters of more fraternities and sororities than I can count on both hands. These people have varying political beliefs, come from varying socioeconomic backgrounds and are of different races, creeds, sexual orientations and religions, but they all have one thing in common: they have something to say.
When I sit down to edit every week, I read stories that inspire me, make me laugh, challenge my beliefs and make me cry. I get that every single week, and these people get to share it with the world.
There has been a recent stirring among content creators in other parts of the country that Odyssey writers should be paid, but you cannot put a price tag on the ability to share your thoughts with the world. You cannot monetize the feeling you get when you write your unadulterated thoughts about something you're passionate about. Anyone who has spent anytime in an introductory psychology course knows that there is no more powerful influence on the quality of "work" than intrinsic motivation - doing something because you WANT to, not because you're trying to make money for it.
The feeling you get waking up one day and seeing that your article has been shared by thousands of people all over the nation, and reading feedback like "This made me cry; I feel exactly the same way; this brought back so many memories," or receiving direct Facebook messages from educators on the other side of the nation telling you they've printed your article and hung it in their classroom to inspire their students cannot be monetized. Maybe that doesn't pay my bills, but that's okay because there is no greater pleasure than doing something simply because it provides others with joy.
It's incredibly powerful to consider the 12,000 people who voluntarily put their thoughts on the internet, because they felt they had something to say and were given a platform. I wake up every day feeling blessed that I get to manage about 35 of those individuals, because they are some of the kindest and passionate humans I have had the pleasure to encounter in my time at the University of North Georgia.
To those of you who have ever shared an article from my community, thank you. You are helping to democratize content on the internet, to provide the millennial generation a voice and to further my livelihood.
To those of you who call me "mom" or a friend because of Odyssey - or just your Editor-in-Chief - thank you for taking time each week to share your inner thoughts with me and with your peers. Thank you for plugging into this incredible outlet and for putting tears in my eyes when you talk about the things and people close to your heart, for making me laugh when you satire current events or compare your daily life to your favorite sitcom, and thank you for just being in this "bucket of weird" with me. It's my pleasure to be your EIC.