Today is my two-year anniversary of writing for Odyssey.
Before I blow out the celebratory candles and pat myself on the back for being so committed to this platform, it's important for me to reflect on the past two years. My very first article was a sappy, heartfelt letter to my mom to wish her a happy birthday. Honestly, it was just your typical, cutesy, "open letter" blog post that basically everyone has seen while mindlessly scrolling through their Facebook feed.
But to me, it meant so much more. It meant finally allowing the entire world to read my words for the first time. It gave me the opportunity to follow a passion that I've had since I was a little girl. And the simplicity of wishing my mother a "happy birthday" in my own words literally impacted my world.
Odyssey has changed everything for me. From initially being a Content Creator to becoming a Contributing Editor to transitioning to Editor-in-Chief to finally earning the status of President of Baylor's community, Odyssey has pushed me beyond belief. I have written about the most difficult moments in my life, like surviving Hurricane Katrina or the death of my dad, but I've also described the happiest experiences, like my freshman year at Baylor or meeting my best friends in the world. No matter what I've felt or the circumstances life has thrown at me, Odyssey has allowed me to release my emotions in a positive way.
Odyssey has taught me how to be a leader. I've learned how to use words to clearly express my feelings. This site has forced me to manage my time. Odyssey has taught me how to motivate a team (even if some writers miss a deadline or two). I've learned that some people will be supportive, while there's always going to be people to knock you down. I now understand how impactful a single sentence on the Internet can have on someone you've never met. Odyssey has been one of my biggest blessings in college because I can truly do what I have a passion for every single day.
People have asked me why I love writing so much. The cliché "if you love reading, you'll love writing" saying comes to mind, but it's absolutely true. I can vividly remember being a tiny, eyes-too-big-for-her-body toddler, tucked into bed with my mother wrapping me in her arms. She held a book in her hands, reading the words on the page with a dramatic, absolutely perfect storytelling voice. I didn't need to look at the pictures in the novels, because closing my eyes and tuning in on my mom's words was enough to design an entire story in my mind. I fell in love with words almost as much as I loved my mother.
My mom read to me every single night when I was a child. Listening to stories like "Strega Nona" and "If You Give A Mouse A Cookie" are memories that I'll cherish for a lifetime. Since those days of nightlights and blankies and the sweet forehead kisses from my mom, I knew I wanted to be a writer.
I'm not majoring in journalism or English in college, and, heck, maybe that's my mistake, because Odyssey has truly furthered a passion inside my heart that makes me crave writing for a living. Honestly, who knows what I'll pursue after graduation? Whether or not I'll actually follow a career under my Medical Humanities, French, and Sociology degree doesn't really matter at this point, because right now, I'm just doing what I love. Odyssey has taught me that regardless of your occupation, words can take you away to another universe.
Now, it's time to blow out my anniversary candles and pat myself on the back. Two years ago, I wrote my first Odyssey article, unsure if my voice meant anything to anyone. But my mom cried while reading that very first article on July 19th, 2016. And I'm so thankful for that. She was the first person who told me that words matter 19 years ago, and she is still my biggest cheerleader in my writing to this very day.
So, once again, happy birthday, Mommy. Whether I'll be a hospital administrator or a big-time writer or editor one day, I know that you'll always encourage me every step of the way. July 19th is a huge deal to me because it marked the beginning of my exciting, incredible, and rewarding journey with Odyssey. But this day is an even greater deal because it celebrates the life of the person whose fairy tale voice taught me what it even meant to have a passion to begin with.
It's July 19th, 2018, so let's blow out the candles together, Mommy. Here's to many more birthdays (and many more cliché Odyssey articles). I love you!