To The Teacher Who Is The Reason I Write

To The Teacher Who Is The Reason I Write

You have given me the confidence to do what I love and be confident in who I am.
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Where do I even begin?

I remember the first time I met you. I was extremely intimidated by you. You radiated intelligence and my high school freshmen self didn't know what to do. I already knew you would be a trying teacher that challenged her students before I even had the chance to have you as a teacher myself.

The first time I had you as a somewhat teacher was my sophomore year of high school. I joined yearbook with my best friend at the time, but sadly we were put into different periods for yearbook. I was so intimidated that entire year - you have NO idea.

At this point in my life, I was really discovering my love for writing. I was realizing how easy and natural it came to me. I was excelling in everything that had to do with English and writing. Yearbook gave me a whole new way of looking at writing - in a more journalistic point of view.

I didn't know it yet but yearbook, and most importantly you, would be what led me to where I am today at Syracuse University.

I made it through sophomore year fine. I warmed up to you a bit more, but it wasn't until the following year, my junior year of high school, that I would really start to form a relationship with you.

I really started to focus on my writing and trying to create the best stories I could. I kept getting positive feedback from the editors that year and yourself. You were giving me articles to do on the side because you had confidence in my writing abilities. My confidence went from 0 to 100 real quick that year.

Then came the end of junior year. You designated me and the girl I began this yearbook journey with as the 2016-2017 editors for our senior year. I was so extremely happy and excited to be doing something I loved.

That year, my senior year, I had the privilege of having you as an English teacher as well. Not only was I receiving your guidance in a journalistic writing way, but also a more academic and creative way. I was getting the best of both worlds.

My senior year I continued to grow as a writer in all ways because of you. I craved your guidance and your feedback. I didn't just want positive feedback either. I wanted you to criticize me. I wanted to be the best I could be and you helped me do just that.

When college decision time came, the support I had had from you drove me to accept the challenge of the most prestigious communications school in America. I felt confident enough in my abilities to continue my writing and academic career there.

I knew I wasn't perfect and that I had miles to go yet, but I knew I was prepared for the hard work ahead because of you and all you had done for me.

I remember one moment during yearbook when I had to write a story for a spread and I cranked it out in one class period. You said that that was the fastest and most effective turn around you had seen by any of your editors. I am pretty sure I couldn't stop smiling the rest of that day.

The day I graduated and the last day I came in during the summer to finish the final touches of the yearbook were two of the saddest days of my life. I was saying goodbye not only to a mentor and teacher but someone who had become a friend and a huge part of my life.

When I left for college I took on new writing classes and new professors, but I still carried your teachings and your support with me. I wrote each paper confidently and with all the tips and tricks I had learned while having you as a teacher.

I joined The Odyssey because of the confidence you gave me, and you are a huge reason as to why I even started my own blog.

To conclude, I just want to say thank you. Thank you for being a constant support system in my life. Thank you for caring, not only for me but all your students. You have made impacts in many people's lives.

You are exactly what a teacher should be. You push your students, you form relationships with your students, and you only want them to succeed and chase their dreams. You prepare them not only for college but for life.

Every student should have the opportunity to have a teacher like you.

Thank you for everything you continue to do for me even though I am no longer your student. You have made an impact on me that will stay with me for the rest of my life.

Thank you,

Caitlin Johnston

Cover Image Credit: Caitlin Johnston

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Please Spare Me From The Three Months Of Summer Break When People Revert Back To High Schoolers

They look forward to swapping stories with their friends at the local diner, walking around their old high school with a weird sense of superiority, and reminiscing their pre-college lives.

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I know a surprising amount of people who actually couldn't wait to go home for the summer. They look forward to swapping stories with their friends at the local diner, walking around their old high school with a weird sense of superiority, and reminiscing their pre-college lives.

Me? Not so much. I don't mean to sound bitter. It's probably really comforting to return to a town where everyone knows your name, where your younger friends want you around to do their prom makeup, and where you can walk through Target without hiding in the deodorant aisle. But because I did this really annoying thing where my personality didn't really develop and my social anxiety didn't really loosen its grip on me until college, I have a very limited number of people to return to.

If you asked someone from my high school about Julia Bond, they would probably describe her as shy, studious, and uptight. I distinctly remember being afraid of people who JUULed (did you get high from it? was it illegal? could I secondhand smoke it and get lung cancer?) and crying over Algebra 1 in study hall (because nothing says fun and friendly like mascara steaks and furious scribbling in the back corner while everyone else throws paper airplanes and plays PubG Mobile).

I like to tell my college friends that if I met High School Julia, I would beat her up. I would like to think I could, even though I go to the gym now a third of the time I did then. It's not that it was High School Julia's fault that she closed herself off to everyone. She had a crippling fear of getting a B and an even worse fear of other people. But because she was so introverted and scared, College Julia has nothing to do but re-watch "The Office" for the 23rd time when she comes back.

Part of me is jealous of the people who came into their own before college. I see pictures of the same big friend groups I envied from a distance in high school, all their smiling faces at each other's college football games and pool parties and beach trips, and it makes me sad that I missed out on so many friendships because I was too scared to put myself out there. That part of me really, really wishes I had done things differently.

But a bigger, more confident part of me is really glad I had that experience. Foremost, everything I've gone through has shaped me. I mean, I hid in the freaking bathroom during lunch for the first two weeks of my freshman year of high school. I never got up to sharpen my pencil because I was scared people would talk about me. I couldn't even eat in front of people because I was so overwhelmingly self-conscious. I remember getting so sick at cross country practice because I ran four or five miles on an empty stomach.

Now, I look back and cringe at the ridiculousness because I've grown so much since then. Sure, I still have my quirks and I'm sure a year from now I'll write an article about what a weirdo Freshman Julia was. But I can tell who had the same experience as me. I can tell who was lonely in high school because they talk to the kids on my floor that study by themselves. I can tell who was afraid of speaking up because they listen so well. I can tell who was without a friend group because they stand by me when others don't. I can tell who hated high school, because it's obvious that they've never been as happy as they are now.

My dislike for high school, while inconvenient for this summer, might be one of the best things to happen to me. I learned how to overcome my fears, how to be independent, and how to make myself happy. I never belonged in high school, and that's why I will never take for granted where I belong here at Rutgers.

So maybe I don't have any prom pictures with a bunch of colorful dresses in a row, and maybe I didn't go to as many football games as I should have. Maybe I would've liked pep rallies, and maybe I missed out on senior week at the beach. But if I had experienced high school differently, I wouldn't be who I am today.

I wouldn't pinch myself daily because I still can't believe how lucky I am to have the friends that I do.

I wouldn't smile so hard every time I come back from class and hear my floormates calling me from the lounge.

I wouldn't well up when my roommate leaves Famous Amos cookies on my desk before a midterm, or know how to help the girl having a panic attack next to me before a final, or hear my mom tell my dad she's never seen me this happy before.

If I had loved high school, I wouldn't realize how amazing I have it in college. So amazing, in fact, that I never want to go home.

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High School Seniors Should Be Excited For College, Not Scared

Even though it seems stressful and it is a big new place, it will be some of the best memories you will have for life.

Cassidy
Cassidy
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Going into the summer after my high school graduation, all I could think about was college, and how I was going to prepare to go to a new school and move away from home. Just know, it is not as stressful as you prepare yourself for it to be. You don't need to worry about not having any friends or not knowing how to get to all the different buildings because you have to remember everyone else on campus has been in the exact same position you are in, and there are tons of people on campus to help you.

One of the things I was most worried about was classes and how to know which classes to take. My advice is to go to counseling and plan out your classes before you register. Planning out classes will drastically help you stay on track and the counselors will help you make a balanced schedule that you can actually handle.

Another piece of advice would be to not bring as much stuff for your dorm as you think you will need. By all means, bring the essential things that you will need, but remember a dorm room is very small and you share it with another person. You won't have a ton of space for extra stuff and you want to have space to move around and actually live in your dorm.

Finally, if you are concerned about meeting people and making friends, just try and be as outgoing and open as possible. Everyone else in the dorms is just as nervous as you are too meet people, it really helps to try to branch out. Joining clubs or greek life also helps you meet people around campus with common interests as you.

College is not something to be scared of. Even though it seems stressful and it is a big new place, it will be some of the best memories you will have for life.

Cassidy
Cassidy

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