My teacher who taught me about life

To The Teacher that Became a Friend

Thank you for teaching me more than I ever anticipated.


I remember walking into my English honors class junior year with excitement. I knew I had a few friends in the class and one of the books we were supposed to read was actually something to look forward to. But mainly, I knew my teacher, Rod Durham, was a fan favorite amongst the student body. He was hilarious, outgoing, full of love, and had the world's greatest laugh. His energy filled any room he walked into with light and happiness. That year ended up being one of the most enjoyable classes I had taken at the school and started my love writing. We would review my essays to make them flawless and he always encouraged me to write about things I loved. So here I am, doing just that.

Fast forward to my senior year of high school and I was dying to be his TA. After sending him a message on Facebook, the TA position was mine and I was ecstatic for what was going to come. We spent every day in class grading what needed to be graded as quickly as possible so we could get straight to our gossiping. The man knew all the tea that could possibly be spilled and I attempted to keep him up to date on the drama I knew. Usually, he already knew it but would be kind enough to pretend he didn't. We acted like little middle school girls around each other and everyone, including us, knew it was obnoxious. He slowly but surely became a friend instead of a teacher to me and that is what began to change my life.

We began to spend class periods talking about family struggles, our boyfriends, and things that were more than just goofy topics. I knew each and every day that I had someone to confide in. Someone that wouldn't judge my choices and point me in the right direction. He had all of the wisdom in life that I wanted and I hoped that one day it would rub off on me. His inspiring past and promising future made me want to push myself to be better each and every day. I was lucky enough to have someone like him in my life for the short amount of time I did. He has had a larger impact on my life in the 8 months we became super close than those who have been a part of my life for years.

March 13, 2016, was a day I don't think I'll ever be able to forget. It was the day Rod returned home to God. I woke up to the news and could've sworn I was really in a nightmare. None of it seemed real and I just couldn't understand why the Lord would take away someone so special in my life. I had never been old enough to truly understand loss when family members passed away during my childhood. Rod was the first person to pass away in my life that truly impacted me in my day-to-day. But after years of missing him and praying, I finally realized that some people aren't meant to stay forever. They are sent to change lives, leave an impression, and move on. Some move away, others leave you sad, and people like Durham, they watch from above.

As I think about some of our fondest memories, I think about when I found out I was accepted to FSU. I posted on Facebook explaining how I was accepted for Fall and he immediately commented "Oh. My. God. B. YAAAAASSSSS!! So proud of my Sel!!!" At the moment, I laughed because I could hear his big loud voice screaming through the phone screen at me. It was a moment we had been waiting for since I applied months earlier. The second I turned in my essay we had gone over a million times, we decided to put some good energy in the air and talk about all of the things I could do at FSU hoping to speak it into existence. Without him, who knows where I would be attending college.

I wouldn't be the writer I am today without his guidance. I wouldn't be the woman I am today without his inspiration. He taught me to be exactly who I am with no apologies. I learned to embrace my talents, no matter how small, and to showcase them without fear of failure. But his passing taught me that life is too short to wait around for those opportunities. I no longer hope for things I know that are in my reach, I approach them head-on knowing they could be mine. I miss him daily but I know that he watches me from above and still continues to guide me. His spirit will continue to live on in me and all of the other people he touched. Thank you, Rod, you will never know just how much you mean to me.

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I'm The Girl Without A 'Friend Group'

And here's why I'm OK with it


Little things remind me all the time.

For example, I'll be sitting in the lounge with the people on my floor, just talking about how everyone's days went. Someone will turn to someone else and ask something along the lines of, "When are we going to so-and-so's place tonight?" Sometimes it'll even be, "Are you ready to go to so-and-so's place now? Okay, we'll see you later, Taylor!"

It's little things like that, little things that remind me I don't have a "friend group." And it's been like that forever. I don't have the same people to keep me company 24 hours of the day, the same people to do absolutely everything with, and the same people to cling to like glue. I don't have a whole cast of characters to entertain me and care for me and support me. Sometimes, especially when it feels obvious to me, not having a "friend group" makes me feel like a waste of space. If I don't have more friends than I can count, what's the point in trying to make friends at all?

I can tell you that there is a point. As a matter of fact, just because I don't have a close-knit clique doesn't mean I don't have any friends. The friends I have come from all different walks of life, some are from my town back home and some are from across the country. I've known some of my friends for years, and others I've only known for a few months. It doesn't really matter where they come from, though. What matters is that the friends I have all entertain me, care for me, and support me. Just because I'm not in that "friend group" with all of them together doesn't mean that we can't be friends to each other.

Still, I hate avoiding sticking myself in a box, and I'm not afraid to seek out friendships. I've noticed that a lot of the people I see who consider themselves to be in a "friend group" don't really venture outside the pack very often. I've never had a pack to venture outside of, so I don't mind reaching out to new people whenever.

I'm not going to lie, when I hear people talking about all the fun they're going to have with their "friend group" over the weekend, part of me wishes I could be included in something like that. I do sometimes want to have the personality type that allows me to mesh perfectly into a clique. I couldn't tell you what it is about me, but there is some part of me that just happens to function better one-on-one with people.

I hated it all my life up until very recently, and that's because I've finally learned that not having a "friend group" is never going to be the same as not having friends.

SEE ALSO: To The Girls Who Float Between Friend Groups

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8 Reasons Why California Is “The Place To Be”

Many people ask me why I left such an amazing place, and I still don't have an answer.


I've vacationed in California all my life. I've traveled up the coast and through the deserts and mountains of the Golden State. I've lived there for five years and attended college at a UC (University of California). I am convinced that California is "the place to be", and here's why:

1. The coastline is absolutely breathtaking.

Laguna Beach, CA.

Kathryn Kaloroumakis

The turquoise water crashing into the intricately chiseled cliffs is nature at its finest. Hop on Pacific Coast Highway to drive along 840 miles of pure beauty.

2. The weather.

You don't even have to check the forecast in California to know that it is sunny and seventy degrees.

3. Hollywood.

Hollywood, CA

Being in Hollywood is like being in a movie - spot celebrities roaming the area, gaze upon the amazing mansions that fill the hills, and tour iconic movie sets and studios.

4. The gourmet Mexican food.

Roberto's Tacos, CA


Whether you are dining in at a classy restaurant on the water, getting take out Mexican from a little shack in the desert, or grabbing a taco from a food truck on the beach, you can't go wrong with the Mexican food.

5. The various universities all across the state.

University of California, San Diego

Kathryn Kaloroumakis

Whether you want to study in a beach town, the desert, or the redwood forest, there is a home for you. The state holds 264 colleges and universities for students to choose from.

6. The endless amount of public trails and parks.

California welcomes people to explore the great outdoors - whether you are roaming through the Redwood Forest, hiking to the Hollywood Sign, walking the trails at Big Bear Mountain, or running the trail to the Golden Gate Bridge, there is always another sight to see in California.

7. The various types of terrain.

Mammoth, CA

Kathryn Kaloroumakis

Only in California can you surf in the morning and skii in the afternoon. The desert, the forest, the beach, the mountains, and more - all exist in California.

8. Home to “The Happiest Place on Earth”.

Paradise Pier, Disney's California Adventure


There is never a dull moment hanging with Mickey Mouse at Disneyland or hopping from ride to ride at California Adventure.

Many people ask me why I left such an amazing place, and I still don't have an answer. California is the place to be.

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