Odyssey Is Where I Met My Online Friends

Odyssey Is Where I Met My Online Friends

I never became friends with anyone I only knew on the internet... until now, that is.
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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.

Cover Image Credit: Pexels

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It Took Me 4 Years And $100K To Realize Why Poor Kids Like Me Don’t Go To College

But now that I know, I can't get it out of my mind.

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I grew up poor.

There, I said it. It's out in the open now—I don't come from a family that has a bunch of money. In fact, my family doesn't have much money at all. My single mother works in fast food and does a DAMN good job trying to support herself and the rest of us. A lot of the food my family gets comes from food pantries. We have received government assistance before. I grew up poor, but I haven't let that define me.

Especially when it came to going to college.

I didn't want to let my economic background hold me back from my potential. I wanted to be the first person on both sides of my family to receive my college degree. I wanted to get a better paying job and moving up in socioeconomic status so I don't have to be the "poor" girl with the "poor" family all my life. I'm not really ashamed of coming from a poor family, but I also don't want to be poor my entire life.

For a majority of my college career, I wondered why there weren't many poor students around me at college. I go to a public university, and it's just the same price as any other state school really. Coming from a lower income home, I did receive a lot of assistance, and without it, there's no way in hell I could be here. I know that many other lower-income students can get this same assistance, which really made me wonder why there was such a lack of other poor kids around me.

I mean, everyone posts videos from their nice, upper-middle-class homes on Snapchat over holiday breaks while I go back home to the trailer park.

Everyone can call mom or dad and ask for money when things get rough while I pay for 100% of the things I own because my mother simply cannot afford it.

Everyone walks around in their name-brand clothes while I'm rocking Walmart knockoffs. It's not something I thought about for a couple years in college, but once I noticed it, I couldn't think of anything else.

It took me nearly all four years of college to realize why there's such a lack of poor students at my average, public university. Poor students are set up for failure in college. It's almost designed to be a survival of the fittest when it comes to us lower-income students, and those of us who are deemed the fittest and do make it to graduation day are typically stuck with a lot of debt that we don't have the financial intelligence or support to even think about paying off.

Poor students are in the minority in college, and when you're in a minority anywhere, surviving can be difficult. When it costs $100 just for a 5-digit code to do your homework, it can be hard to stay in school. When the cost of living on campus is $10,000 or rent for an apartment is nearly $500 a month, it can be hard to stay in school. When you don't have a car because you can't save up the money for one and your parents can't help you, it can be hard to stay in school. When you're forced to get a minimum wage, on-campus job that limits your to twenty hours a week, it can be hard to stay in school. When all of your friends don't understand why you can't go out to eat or to the bar every weekend, it can be hard to stay in school. All of these reasons add up to the main reason why poor kids don't go to college—the odds are stacked against us.

I never had shame in my socioeconomic status until I went to college. In my hometown, I wasn't much less than the norm. Now, my home life is drastically different than that of all of my friends. I know that this is something that is never going to change because when I enter the workforce in less than a year, I'll be going in as the first member of my family with a college degree. People will treat me differently when I tell them this, even if I don't want them to. People will treat me differently when they ask where my parents work and I tell them McDonald's. It's an unfortunate reality that I cannot control.

It took me nearly all four years to realize why poor kids don't go to college, but now that I know, I can't get it off my mind.

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5 Tips For Handling A Quarter Life Crisis

Don't know what to do with your life, me either

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I thought I had my entire life figured out; career, graduate school, moving. All of it. But maybe I was wrong. I have already been accepted to graduate school, have my internship/capstone figured out but then I was given an opportunity of a lifetime to do a different internship that made me question if my plan was the right plan for me. It was terrifying, stressful and difficult to figure out what to do because it affects the rest of my life. But there are some tips you can do to keep your cool.

1.    PLAN PLAN PLAN

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Write that shit down. Take a piece of paper and plan out where each path could take you and the steps you need to take to get to each goal on the path. Seeing it all on paper will slow you down and help determine if what you're thinking is even an option.

2.    Talk to people

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Talk it out, talk to your friends, your family, your advisor. Talk to anyone you can about your plan. You will hear other people's opinions and thoughts. They may have thought of a factor that you didn't. It will help you better understand your thoughts when you explain your tornado brain to someone else.

 3.    Be Open

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This was REALLY hard for me. I talked to probably five different people about the change in life choices and heard both positive and negative thoughts. It is important to be open and listen to the negative idea even if it seems like you're being attacked. It will make you think, are you really prepared for 4-8 more years of school (or whatever else it may be).

 4.    Breathe and Stress Relieve 

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YES, this is 100% one of the biggest most stressful decision you have to make but it is also incredibly important that you are patient, and calm throughout the entire process. It is easier said than done, trust me but take five steps back, seven deep breaths and 20 minutes to relieve the built-up stress. Go to the gym, listen to music, paint, do whatever is going to put a smile on your face and calm you. Then come back to the problem with a clear head to think and process all the options.

5.    Don’t be afraid

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It is literally terrifying when you feel lost, and unsure of what to do with your life. Especially if your family is super strict and you want to keep everyone happy. But REMEMBER it is YOUR life. YOUR future. You have to worry about what is the best option for you and what will make you happy in the long run. Even if it is harder and going to take longer. Be concerned about YOURSELF and not what anyone else thinks of you.

Quarter life crises are totally normal and not fun. Don't feel like you're alone or a failure for being unsure. It is good to explore all your options and be the happiest you can be. If that takes a little freak out and some stress so is it. Just use these steps to make the best of it.

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