To My Odyssey EIC Group, Thank You For Being There

To My Odyssey EIC Group, Thank You For Being There

I felt alone before, but I don't anymore.

I just want to say: thank you. Thank you for my late night questions and random thoughts. Thank you for your hilarious snaps and the constant support we have for each other.

I never thought I could bond with people I never met but here I am, with you guys. I'm usually shy and I'm a "sit back and watch" type of girl. I used to read all your messages but didn't answer because I was unsure what to say or if I should participate. I've always felt like an outsider and I struggle with social anxiety but as the months progressed, I began to open up, bit by bit. I responded more, snapped more, and developed an attachment to my EIC sisters (and brother). You guys gave me material to make my own team strong, but you also gave me advice to help make me strong as an EIC.

You all were so confident in who you were and I loved it. I began to take more active roles within our Odyssey society. Soon enough, I was commenting on your posts and sharing your articles. I was excited for your success, instead of being envious. I was happy when one of us got promoted to lead EIC because she DESERVED it. I respected how HARD we all work to make our teams successful. We bonded over the love we share for our teams, for each other, and the other EIC's that aren't in our group.

This week meant more to me than y'all will ever know because I opened up, big time. I shared a deep, dark secret of mine, one I felt would make me lose my friends that I made within our group, only to see you guys shared your own personal stories with me. You opened up and comforted me, even though I didn't deserve it. Your shared experiences, they meant the world to me, so thank you for having my back and not hating/shaming me. Thank you for accepting my flaws and showing me the mistakes you made that mirrored mine. Thank you for showing me those mistakes don't define me, but rather empower me to accept the past and move on. To learn from those mistakes and use my knowledge to help others, like you guys helped me.

I felt alone before, but I don't anymore.

I found friends within this community and I am so grateful for you guys. Every day, I open up more and your continued patience with me inspires me to let go of all my insecurities and just be myself.

Thank you, from the bottom of my heart. You are helping fix a broken piece inside of this lonely girl.

So if you'll excuse me, I'm going to go get some tissues and jump back into our Slack group because y'all made me feel safe here.

And that means the world.

Cover Image Credit: Pexels

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Making Plans With Friends At Home Versus At School Is Not As Simple As Knocking On Their Door Down The Hall

Meeting up with friends from home and school are very different

Over break it was great to be able to spend time with my friends from home, but one thing I realized was that it is so much easier getting together with friends who you go to school with than it is when you are home. Perhaps my situation is a little more unique because my friend’s and I are all spread out across the area where we are from but still, nothing is as convenient as living in the same building or down the street from your friends when you’re back on campus.

Planning to meet up:

When I am home it takes a flurry of texts over the course of several days to find a date and a time that works for everyone. You have to make sure no one has pre-existing plans and you have to wait around for people to suggest times or dates that work for them. Although I will say the one large lesson I learned this break is that going forward, it is best to be direct when it comes to suggesting when and what time, instead of just floating a date out there and waiting to see what happens. Now I just have to say, who is free on Wednesday at 2 p.m. and see if anyone wants to hang out.

At school though, after the first few weeks of the semester, you get to have a pretty good idea of what your friends’ schedules are so you know who is free when. You can just send a quick text “Hey want to grab dinner?” or “Hey do you want to go shopping this afternoon” and it’s as easy as that because for most people in college their days revolve around class and socializing so it is easier to quickly throw some social plan together than it may be at home.

Finding a place to meet:

One afternoon at home, I literally had to pull to the side of the street and park for a few minutes as I was driving to the location where I thought my friends and I were going to meet up but then it suddenly changed. So, there I was, parked, texting with my friends to find an alternative location.

This once again may be where the distance between my friends and I comes into play. For us, the first decision is which side of the lake we want to meet on. About half of us live on the west side and the other half live on the east side so there is no majority winner. The other factor is who has a car and when. If someone is without a car for the day we then consider where they can get to easily by bus, or we just come to them.

This is all more complex than what it is in college where my friend may text me to see if I want to get dinner and if it works for both of us we just plan on meeting each other on the first floor of the building we live in. Then once we meet up we think about where we want to go for a few minutes before settling on a place and set out, usually by foot to get wherever we are going for dinner.

All in all, this is to say that being in college and near to your group of friends is something to be grateful for. And really, not just in college either, during any stage of school. It is so much easier to spend time with your friends when you are all in close proximity of each other, like in the same building, or in the same class.

In high school my friends and I got to eat lunch with each other every day, have homeroom together, and sometimes we would spend time together after school. But now that we have all moved on it is harder to see each other and meeting up isn’t as easy as walking down the hall to your friend’s locker.

So although on occasion it can be bothersome to take the extra time and effort to meet up with my friends from high school, I am glad that we are all still close enough to want to take the time to get together when we are all home. And once we do make our plans and get together, it is always a blast catching up with one another and just being back together again.

With this new realization, I will cherish the time and proximity I have with the friends I have made in college. It won't always be as simple as meeting up on the first floor and going to dinner.

Cover Image Credit: Everypixel

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To All the Friends I Haven't Met

Definitely Not a Catfish

I made my first friend through the internet in 2013 via a series of linked Instagram and Ask.fm accounts that ultimately led me to the popular messaging app, Kik. She was in eighth grade at the time, I was a freshman.

My parents had warned me about this, as most people's parents do. We've all heard stories of catfishing, scamming, and even violence. But this was different. With the advent of independent messaging apps such as Kik, that didn't require you to give out personal information, I felt like I had a safer and more controlled environment in which to talk to people. As it turns out, the internet doesn't have to be a dangerous place.

Nowadays, internet friends are a common occurrence. With the increased presence of social media in our lives, and the new measures implemented to connect us to as many people as possible, it's a lot easier to meet someone from a different timezone and build a lasting friendship.

I went through high school with many of my closest friends being those I had never met before. At first, I was almost embarrassed. What kind of teen is so bad at socialization that he can only make friends outside of real life? When I did open up about my new friends, I was often met with criticism. People would say things like "are you sure this isn't a catfish?" and "how can you be friends if you've never met?"

I came to ignore them. I was proud of having reached across distance and time zone, building lasting long-distance friendships that defied the stigma surrounding them and having never met a single one of them.

Having an internet friend was actually a really incredible thing. The only thing that set them apart from the people I knew in real life was the solely the fact that I didn't know them in real life. We still had milestones (moving from Kik to actual texts, video calling, etc. (I still remember hearing people's voices for the first time.)) and there was still a certain air of mystery about them.

I met a girl from Georgia in 2013. It's been four years since that day. She's now a senior in high school, I'm a freshman in college. I still look forward to the day I get to meet her.

Alberta, Connecticut, Georgia, Indiana, Montana, Pennsylvania, Scotland.

To all the friends I haven't met,

To the people I've come across in the sketchiest of ways,

To the people my parents have warned me about,

To the people who have watched me grow up from across the world,

To the people who have lost touch, and to the people who have remained with me,

Thank you.

Cover Image Credit: Bryce Stephens

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