Thank you Odyssey for everything you've done to make me a better writer, leader, and person.
It all started in January of my freshman year, what I now look back as possibly the peak of my college experience (thanks COVID). I felt as though I was doing great academically, in a strong place socially, and adapting very well to all things adulting. However, there was one place that I was lacking, and that was having a creative outlet. I've always liked to write, but it wasn't really something I ever thought I had time for or could do on a regular basis. I had seen a lot of people I knew that were writing for this thing called Odyssey, and I remembered spending a lot of my time throughout high school reading articles on the site. People were writing about topics ranging from relationships, politics, pop culture, student life, mental health, and it seemed like a great place for me to do the same. So after a lot of hunting down, I finally stumbled upon the community here at UIUC, and dove headfirst into it. And for the last two and a half years, I have been proud to call it my home.
If it weren't for Odyssey, I would not have been able to express myself in this capacity. I know this may sound crazy coming from me, but I've always been someone who struggles with words. I am not great at confrontation, I have had my fair share of struggles with public speaking, and all around I just struggle to open up and share my voice around new groups of people. However, when it comes to putting my thoughts down on paper, for some odd reason, it just flows uncontrollably in a way that I don't even understand myself. Writing has been truly therapeutic for me over the last few years. It's allowed me to express whatever I'm feeling in that moment and serves as a place for me to reflect and learn more about something I'm going through. It has been the medium where I can be the most vulnerable and the most myself, and I attribute a lot to Odyssey for making that possible.
If it weren't for Odyssey, I would not have had the opportunity to be able to share my work to such a diverse, wide, and supportive audience. Throughout this time, I've kind of become "the girl who writes those articles," and even though it is almost embarrassing in some respects, I have worked to not only embrace it, but be proud of myself for it. Some of my articles have been fortunate to have received over 100,000+ views, which is beyond a number I could ever comprehend. Yet some of those article that have only received a couple hundred views only by sharing it to my Facebook page are the ones that I cherish the most, and its because of the overwhelming response I've received from family and friends. Each and every piece that I have written means something to me, and it means the world to know that it has meant something to some of you, too. Just knowing that even one person resonates with something that I've said is a feeling that is truly unmatched. I have appreciated everyones kind words and feedback more than I could ever express, and your unwavering support is what has kept me going all this time.
If it weren't for Odyssey, I would not have discovered my potential in writing and the decision to explore it further. Last spring I enrolled in two Creative Writing classes just to see if it would be something I'd like, but I did not expect I would have loved it as much as I did. I had no idea that I would be declaring a double major in Creative Writing let alone completely change my career path. After I graduate in the fall, I have intentions on pursuing a writing-based career, and I have never felt that something has made more sense to me in my life. I am excited to see where my life takes me, but I'm so appreciative for the experiences I've had through Odyssey for making that happen.
If it weren't for Odyssey, I would not have become a leader amongst my community. This past year I have been fortunate enough to serve as the Community Representative for the Odyssey community at UIUC. It certainly has had its fair share of ups and downs, but I have loved getting to expand my leadership skills and fostered new relationships. It was such a rewarding experience to be able to collaborate with other universities, work with professional editors, collaborate with other exec board members, and get to manage and onboard new, passionate writers at the University of Illinois. Unfortunately, some circumstances with the company Odyssey itself has lead our team to explore other avenues and we have plans to switch to another platform that will hopefully be a better fit going forward. While I am excited for this new chapter, I am going to miss the amazing community of writers that I have gotten to know through this experience.
And most importantly, if it weren't for Odyssey, I would not be half the person I am today. Being apart of Odyssey has been a pivotal part of my college experience, and I know I will look back and think about all that I've learned about myself from this process. I am so beyond thankful for this platform and the ability to better myself as both a writer and a person, but my work is far from done. Though my time with Odyssey is ending, my writing career is far from over. I am looking forward to continuing to grow as a writer, and utilize this space to be my most authentic self. And of course, thank you to every single person who has been a support along the way for me. I am so fortunate for this chapter, but I'm even more excited as to what's around the corner, and I cannot take you along with me for the ride.