Over this past year, I have not only grown as a person, but a writer as well. I have expressed my highs, lows, opinions and so much more. I have been given a platform to have my voice heard. I have found a group of people who are trying to do one thing: write to the world and be who they are. What started out as a hobby has sparked a change in my future career. My entire life I wanted to become a chef. As of last year, I’ve decided to become a writer.

These people understand my need to write unlike anyone else. The support from my Odyssey team never quits. I know that, no matter what, I'll have those weekly Odyssey emails to cheer me up.

I have made great friends and listened to unbelievably moving stories. I am fortunate to be able to write for such a top-grossing Odyssey team here in Charleston.

Our writing is taken seriously and everyone puts in the time and effort in their writing. From my experience, no one is left feeling unsatisfied with their work. My team is always willing to read articles, give critiques and flatter you when you need that extra shove to click submit.

I have been given the opportunity to write about experiences and the way I’ve learned to grow as a result. I can write about my favorite type of candy and why. I can make a list of the 10 reasons why Cleveland, Ohio is the best place on earth. I am given endless opportunities that continue to push me to think, observe and become a better version of me, all around, than I was before. Writing down my thoughts helps me to grow. It always helps me to understand my feelings. The amount of support I have gotten back as a result of my inability to have a filter has been life-changing. My need to never stop talking and being heard has finally paid off.

I can’t even imagine how different things would be if I never started writing for The Odyssey. I refer to myself as a writer, I look for editorial jobs. I am more open, expressive and understanding than I use to be. I have more patience (which is essential as a writer). I am mentally sane (at least at this very moment). And I am happier than I have ever been.

I have gotten through horrible events and unbearable losses with the help of my ability to form words and cope with how I am feeling. How can I move forward if I’m unable to pinpoint my emotions? Writing helps me do that. It helps me to make sense of the craziness that happens in life.

If I never applied to write for The Odyssey, I would not be at the point of my life where I am right now. I am grateful for the opportunity to write and publish my work. Getting things off of my chest has sparked a year of tremendous growth which stems from all of the support I have gotten in the process. So, thank you, Odyssey, for pushing me to become a better, more responsible and more independent version of myself every single week.