Joining Odyssey Changed My Life For Good

Joining Odyssey Changed My Life For Good

"Wicked" jokes aside, Odyssey has truly shaped who I am, one year after beginning.

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When I first heard last October that Towson University was re-starting their chapter of Odyssey, I immediately knew I had to apply.

I had been following the page for a while by that point and enjoyed what I read. I found some of the articles incredibly relatable, especially those on mental health. To read what others had written, to see those shared experiences, made me feel less alone. It made me wish I could do the same.

Last October, I officially applied. By November, I had interviewed for and made the team. And lord knows I had no idea just how much writing for this team would change me.

Odyssey helped me grow as a person.

Those weekly chances to write about topics and issues that were important to me shifted something within. I had returned to therapy only a couple months prior to joining the team, and writing became my outlet to process all the anxious and depressed thoughts and feelings whirling around in my head.

I wrote on past experiences. I wrote about being without a friend group, returning to therapy, and how music saved my life. With each piece that I wrote that reflected on my past, I could feel myself changing inside. Writing about times that had been hard for me forced me to realize how different things were now, how far I'd come and how much I'd grown as a person. Those articles allowed me to look back and realize, "Hey, I'm actually okay about that now." I could feel the inner wounds beginning to heal.

Writing for Odyssey helped me find my voice.

I had always liked writing, but writing for Odyssey took that further. I realized that I loved writing: the act of putting into words everything that I wasn't quite as confident to speak aloud. I was never a good speaker, but I could always say exactly what I wanted and how I wanted to say it when I wrote.

My writing got better as time went on. I developed a writing voice that both stated my own experiences while generalizing them to others. Inserting a space where others could find themselves within my words, if not my exact story. I wrote pieces that empathized to others who might be in similar situations, such as my piece on suicide, and do my best to address any "what if's" people might raise when reading the article.

I used Odyssey to vocalize my fear and anger after an anti-Semitic attack occurred to two of my fellow Jews and students, just off-campus. The Odyssey gave me a way to speak up in an affluent manner, rather than spew off in a Facebook post.

Writing for Odyssey helped me figure out what I want to do with my life.

The semester I began writing Odyssey, I switched majors. It was a complete 180 from what I had initially planned to do, and I felt like the ground had been ripped out from beneath my feet. Writing every week and learning the best ways to share my articles reminded me of why I had switched majors: to do things I was actually skilled at, to take those skills and turn them into a future career for myself. Writing for the team helped me become more comfortable with my new mass communications major.

I became president of my team in July. Carrying out the responsibilities of this position has only confirmed that marketing is where I want to head in life, and has given me experience in areas I just know I'll be using down the line.

But most importantly, Odyssey gave me a community.

I've spent hours chatting with my teammates, gabbing with my team co-leader over life and team things, and helping writers out when problems arise. Two of my writers share classes with me.

I was incredibly alone when I first started at Odyssey. I had just walked away from a toxic friend group and was struggling to adjust to being on my own most of the time. Now, I have a whole community of caring people with shared interests, amazing personalities, and a common passion "near" me at all times. I've made friends (and the fact that I'm applying that word is big for me if you know me) who I know I can text about things and make plans (someday soon!!) to just hang out. And it's been incredibly healing for me.

Being a part of Odyssey changed me more than I would have ever thought.

And I'm so grateful for it every day. (Even when I give up homework time to do Odyssey work. Like right now, as I write this.)

All jokes aside, writing for Odyssey changed my life, and I will forever be grateful for it.

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To The Girl Struggling With Her Body Image

It's not about the size of your jeans, but the size of your heart, soul, and spirit.

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To the girl struggling with her body image,

You are more than the number on the scale. You are more than the number on your jeans and dresses. You are way more than the number of pounds you've gained or lost in whatever amount of time.

Weight is defined as the quantity of matter contained by a body or object. Weight does not define your self-worth, ambition or potential.

So many girls strive for validation through the various numbers associated with body image and it's really so sad seeing such beautiful, incredible women become discouraged over a few numbers that don't measure anything of true significance.

Yes, it is important to live a healthy lifestyle. Yes, it is important to take care of yourself. However, taking care of yourself includes your mental health as well. Neglecting either your mental or physical health will inflict problems on the other. It's very easy to get caught up in the idea that you're too heavy or too thin, which results in you possibly mistreating your body in some way.

Your body is your special, beautiful temple. It harbors all of your thoughts, feelings, characteristics, and ideas. Without it, you wouldn't be you. If you so wish to change it in a healthy way, then, by all means, go ahead. With that being said, don't make changes to impress or please someone else. You are the only person who is in charge of your body. No one else has the right to tell you whether or not your body is good enough. If you don't satisfy their standards, then you don't need that sort of negative influence in your life. That sort of manipulation and control is extremely unhealthy in its own regard.

Do not hold back on things you love or want to do because of how you interpret your body. You are enough. You are more than enough. You are more than your exterior. You are your inner being, your spirit. A smile and confidence are the most beautiful things you can wear.

It's not about the size of your jeans. It's about the size of your mind and heart. Embrace your body, observe and adore every curve, bone and stretch mark. Wear what makes you feel happy and comfortable in your own skin. Do your hair and makeup (or don't do either) to your heart's desire. Wear the crop top you've been eyeing up in that store window. Want a bikini body? Put a bikini on your body, simple.

So, as hard as it may seem sometimes, understand that the number on the scale doesn't measure the amount or significance of your contributions to this world. Just because that dress doesn't fit you like you had hoped doesn't mean that you're any less of a person.

Love your body, and your body will love you right back.

Cover Image Credit: Lauren Margliotti

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11 Reasons Why Hiking Should Become A Pivotal Part Of Your Life

It's good for the body and soul.

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I was lucky enough to grow up 10 minutes from a national park. This meant that some of my earliest memories were riding on my dad's shoulders through miles of beautiful trails. As a got older, the simple joy of enjoying the fresh air and getting away from the craziness of life that hiking offered only made me fall in love with it more. Now, whenever I have a rough day or just need a break from stress, the first thing that I want to do is hit the trails.

1. Fresh air

Emily Smith

Being cooped up inside for too long can take a toll on anyone. Being able to get out and breathe the fresh air and feel the sun shining can instantly boost anyone's mood!

2. Exercise

Emily Smith

Hiking is a great way to get those extra steps in, and many areas have different paths you can take depending on your fitness level.

3. No electronics

Emily Smith

I am so guilty of going on my phone way too much. Being outdoors allows a break from social media and time to focus on being in the moment and enjoying the amazing world we live in.

4. Scenery

Emily Smith

Hiking allows us to see some of the most gorgeous untouched pieces of nature. It is hard to not be amazed by how beautiful our earth is.

5. Vitamin D

Emily Smith

There is nothing that a little bit of sun can't cure. Being outside in the sun not only gives you a nice summer glow, but it can be so beneficial to our health! Vitamin D helps boost our immune system and gives us energy.

6. Way more fun than going to the gym

Emily Smith

Going to the gym and using the treadmill and other machines provide a workout but can become more of a chore than fun after a while. Hikes are an amazing workout that hardly feels like a chore. So, the next time you are getting tired of the same old routine at a smelly gym, think about taking a hike instead.

7. Stress reliever

Emily Smith

Being out in nature can be such a great break from the "real world."

8. Great way to spend time with friends

Emily Smith

The next time you don't know what to do with your friends, consider going on a hike! There are so many fun things to do, like bring a picnic or watch the sunset. It's a great way to switch up your typical routine of watching T.V. or Netflix.

9. Perfect way to exercise with dogs

Emily Smith

Instead of taking your dog around the neighborhood, switch it up and take them on a hike! It's a great workout for them, and oftentimes, a lot more enjoyable than the daily neighborhood route.

10.  It's free!

Emily Smith

What more needs to be said? Free fun is hard to come by nowadays, so going on a hike can help your bank account too!

11.  It's fun!

Emily Smith

What's not to love about the endless ways to enjoy hiking?

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