I have never been the sappy type. I've never made an "online friend" because back in the day when the internet was young and adults were paranoid as ever, it was drilled into our heads that talking to strangers on the internet equated signing up for either a traumatic life experience or a traumatic life experience followed by death. So yeah, I've never been a social media fanatic. And I've certainly never became friends with anyone I knew only online... until now, that is.

Who are these online friends of mine?

Angela Yang and Carly MalkiewiczAlpharetta Odyssey's Contributing Editor and Social Media Manager, respectively. They are both amazing Alpha leaders, writers with powerful, motivational voices and my treasured online friends.

We've never met in person and only met via Google Hangouts a couple months after I had gotten to know them. When I first joined Odyssey back in June 2016, I had thought of it as "temporary job," and time filler in which I could simply do my own thing and maintain a distant, professional relationship with the other members and my editor. That worked out for the first month, then fast forward to July, and I found myself promoted as the Editor-in-Chief. I quickly realized my whole keep-a-low-profile plan wasn't going to work out in this case, and even if it did, it wouldn't be fair to everyone else on the team. Yeah sure, no one was all that active in the chat to begin with, and I had already told myself not to get emotionally entangled, but I couldn't help feeling responsible for injecting some life into the deadened atmosphere.

And that's how I properly met Carly and Angela — experienced, more like it, because they shone brightly among the couple of indifferent, callous people I came across while reaching out to everyone. They not only responded immediately to my texts but did so positively and gave me hope that change was possible, that there were good people in the world and maybe, just maybe, not everyone online was a serial killer fronting as telletubbies268.

Angela and Carly were the most enthusiastic and our community's personal vocal cheerleaders. I know for a fact that if they hadn't supported the team the way they did, I would have lost spirit by September and quit in frustration.

As the Contributing Editor, Angela was God-sent. Her friendly professional way of interacting with her teammates was something I always admired and tried to emulate. She was always on top of her game, and after having been with us for nearly over a year, it's no surprise that several creators on our team absolutely love her and will miss her weekly comments. Because of her stellar editing skills and hawk eye for detail, Angela helped the Alpharetta team to become one of the top trending communities on the entire Odyssey platform.

Fast forward couple months down the line, and the team grew to a sizable 15 or so, which sparked the idea to offer more leadership positions. But in Carly's case, it's not so much that she was chosen to be the Social Media Manager, rather, Carly created the role, starting from scratch — a feat that still impresses me to this day. She not only sketched out a plan and drafted goals for herself and the team, but she also actively reached out to various creators one on one. Her hard work paid off in February when our community hit over 50,000 page views in less than 28 days!

Without Carly and Angela, the Alpharetta team would not be the close-knit, enthusiastic family of 29 that it is today. And I would not be the same person had I never met them online the way I did. I can say without a doubt that we are more than acquaintances, more than simply colleagues — we are what Odyssey hopes to create and nurture: we are a community.