I knew this day would come eventually, but I never anticipated how I would feel when it finally happened.
After nearly three years with Odyssey, spending time as a Creator, Contributing Editor, Editor-in-Chief, President and Intern launching and working with somewhere close to 60-70 communities, this chapter in my life has come to a close.
And I'd be lying if I said I wasn't sad about it.
But I'd also be lying if I said I wasn't excited about how I can use everything Odyssey taught me in my next chapter working in ministry.
See, three years ago my dream was to become a Content Strategist at Odyssey HQ. It was my dream, and I was determined to do anything in order to get there.
Then, another door opened that I never anticipated. To work in ministry, introducing people of all ages to Jesus for a living at one of the biggest churches in the country. I felt uncomfortable at first, and I kept telling God that I was supposed to be a Content Strategist--that was my dream.
But I had this undeniable feeling that ministry was where I was supposed to be, so that's where I'm going.
It makes me sad to let go of something that has been a part of my life for so long, something that has told me I belong when the rest of the world hasn't.
Something that gave me friends and a second family all over the country.
Something that gave me a platform to tell me my voice was important and that I mattered.
A place where creativity and open-minds were not only welcomed but encouraged.
A place where the employees are some of the most incredible people I have ever met.
Odyssey was the first place in my college career where someone took a chance on me, where someone saw something in me that I didn't even see in myself at the time.
Odyssey is the reason I was able to walk into multiple interviews for a ministry job and feel confident in myself that I could do this, even though my background is solely in media.
This platform is so much more than people give it credit for. It's not just about the girl writing an open letter to her ex-boyfriend.
It's about people sharing their voice, gaining confidence that it matters. Gaining confidence that they matter.
Now, this wouldn't be a proper farewell, though, without breaking the golden rule of writing articles: keep them specific enough that they replicate your experience, but broad enough for others to relate. (Sorry, Byron, I'm breaking the rules on this one.)
To my very first Managing Editor, Shelby, I can't thank you enough for placing confidence in me to launch Aspiring Journalism Professionals (AJP) two years ago. You had more faith in me than I did at that point in time, and I cannot express how much your confidence in me meant then and now.
To Justina, thank you for inspiring me both professionally and personally. When I felt inadequate as a leader, you helped build me up, and I am so grateful for that.
To Kellie, thank you for believing in me to be Odyssey's remote intern long-term for the past 14 months. I know there were tons of other people who also deserved this opportunity, and you helped me get started in this role.
To Emma, thank you for being the best manager ever and laughing at my crazy stories on our calls. Thanks for helping me when I needed guidance on how to keep my communities moving forward and for always being there for me.
To Hollan, you boosted my confidence as a leader so much in the last six months. When I doubted my leadership, you were right there to build me up, and when I wasn't where I wanted to be with my community, you reminded me how much progress had already been made.
To Byron, you're the MVP because you've put up with my constant questions for longer than anyone else, so MAJOR props to you for that. Second, thanks for always being willing to spend time with me helping me improve as an editor. Thanks to you, I can come up with some pretty good headlines pretty quickly, and before, well, my headlines were just flat. You've improved my editing skills so much, I'll always love editing thanks to you.
To Mike and TyLy, thanks for helping me learn how to create amazing and intriguing news pieces Odyssey-style. My portfolio has you two to thank for that!
To literally everyone at HQ: thank you for always making me feel included as an Intern. I know we all have good and bad days, but you even made my bad days, good ones.
To all of my EICs: You all know I'm always a text away. Even though I no longer manage you guys, I am very proud of everything you've accomplished and your persistence. (Remember, success doesn't come overnight, but with hard work, you'll hit those goals!)
Finally, to AJP: I don't know what I would have done these past two years without you guys. We've come so far as a team, and I couldn't be more proud of everything we have done as a non-traditional community. From not even existing two years ago to becoming a top 25 community, it's so unreal to me. Incredible doesn't even begin to describe you guys.
And, to make an already long article longer, thank you, Odyssey.
Thank you, thank you, thank you.
From the bottom of my heart, I am so beyond grateful for this company and everything you have all invested in me. I'm the luckiest girl in the world to have such an incredible team of people standing behind me.
So while I can't predict where we will all be 10 years from now, I can predict that wherever you all are, it's going to be incredible.
See, this isn't the end...it's the beginning.
It's the beginning of Odyssey helping me launch a career that is so much bigger than I ever could have imagined.
Next time I'm in New York, you better bet I'll be paying a visit to the company that built me.
Farewell, for now, Odyssey. Thanks for everything.