Approximately one year ago, I began writing for Odyssey. I had just finished up my freshman year of college and was headed back home to work at a local pizza place. I didn't feel any different that a high schooler. While I had all these new experiences and college courses under my belt, I still felt so young and inexperienced. Being at college made realize how little I knew and how much I needed to learn—not just academically. I didn't know how to pay rent, bill my insurance, book a flight or even write a cover letter.
I was clueless.
You don't realize how far you have to go until you're back at the bottom. So I got home and I was overwhelmed with how much I still had to learn. I was also overwhelmed with how boring my summer was about to be. I was working 40 hours a week and taking summer classes. I decided that I needed something fun to spice up my summer. One of my friends was an editor at my university's Odyssey community, so I decided to give it a go. I had no idea how much it would teach me.
I had written for and been editor in chief of my high school newspaper for two years so I thought this would be similar, but oh was I wrong. Odyssey is so much different; it's completely what you make it. If you want to write like this is a blog, go for it. If you want to write political opinions, this is the place. If you want to write about issues on your campus, you can do that. If you want to write about Greek Life, Women's Issues or LGBTQ rights, that's an option too. Odyssey is free range and there isn't a lot of accountability. If you don't submit that's on you, if you don't push yourself then you won't grow.
Which is exactly what I had learned the previous year at college—if you don't learn how to do it yourself, it's not going to get done.
If you want to grow then you have to push yourself to grow. So as a writer in the last year, I've written about a lot of things. I wrote about joining a sorority (typical, I know). I became interested in politics as I voted in my first presidential election, so I wrote about that. I even wrote about Odyssey itself as I got some hate for my involvement in it. Anything that was going on in my life is an article idea. I learned that the best articles come out of passion and enjoyment. I learned that hateful comments are going to happen and, well, that's about it, they happen—move on. I learned that writing won't always be easy and topics can be hard to come up with, but that doesn't mean you should stop. I learned that even during finals week writing can be therapeutic.
Writing for Odyssey isn't journalism, opinion, political, a blog, just funny gifs, or tutorials. Writing for Odyssey is about young people growing as writers, figuring things out, and having their voices heard.
So if you want to come join us at Odyssey, please do. If you love to read us, please keep reading. If you love to hate on our articles, remember that kindness is always the best response.
Odyssey has taught me a lot, not only as a writer but now as an editor. It has taught me to