My Year With Odyssey: A Thank You

My Year With Odyssey: A Thank You

Our very own editor-in-chief, intern and friend shares her story.
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This post was created by Lily Moe on October 31, 2016. It originally appeared on Odyssey's Grand Canyon University community page.

A year ago, on November 2, 2015, my first article was published on Odyssey. I distinctly remember being nervously excited, wanting to write a piece that would change the world. After the notification that my article was needed in 3 hours, I whipped out "You Know You're A Camp Counselor When..." and called it a day. That groundbreaking article may have been put on hold, but nonetheless, I was thrilled to be writing for something other than a dinky Google blog. As the Grand Canyon University Odyssey community "went live" that day, I felt like I was doing something real, something important -- little did I know how big of an impact Odyssey would have on the following year of my life.

Soon -- as in, the second day of my Odyssey career -- writing my weekly article become the highest priority on my to-do list. I couldn't wait to receive the email that read: "Congratulations! Your article is live on Odyssey's platform." I had full creative liberties. I could write whatever I wanted to. I was on cloud nine.

In January, I was offered an interview for an editor-in-chief position for the Grand Canyon Odyssey team. I knew I loved to write, and I knew I loved what I was doing, but editor? That was a large step up in responsibilities. As I went through the screening process, the idea excited me. I had the ability to take an opportunity and run with it -- not just for myself, but for the entire GCU community. As a school that does not have a student publication, Odyssey could become the media for Canyon...and how rad would that be?! After being offered the role, I gladly accepted, thrilled with the road ahead.

With this opportunity came a lot of hard work -- after the holiday season, our team had dwindled to 3 people, myself included. The next 4 weeks were soon filled with writing samples and interviews.

By the end of January, we had a team of 19 strong, driven individuals, all having joined Odyssey because they cared about community, their futures, and the ability to stir the pot -- isn't that what media is for anyway? I was jazzed, and could not have been more proud of the people on my staff.

Come February, our numbers were better than ever, with a continuous list of applicants ready to interview for their chance to join our team. This month held another interesting component: the chance to apply to be an intern in Odyssey's headquarters in New York City. I went back and forth with this application, knowing that I "probably wouldn't stand a chance." But with a little encouragement from my manager, I submitted my application, and soon found myself dreaming of 5th Avenue.

March brought even higher numbers for our community, in both members and pageviews. We were rocking and rolling. I was loving life -- even more so when, after the third round of the interview process, I was notified that I was one of 15 interns for Odyssey's summer program.

The months leading up to that summer in New York all blend together; our team was getting bigger, stronger, and more excited to change the world. Sure, we were a bunch of 20-somethings looking for our big break -- and yes, we still are -- but we were loving every second. Our team was becoming a family, and departing from school for the summer was bittersweet.

My summer as an Odyssey intern cannot be explained in a paragraph. Call me, and we'll chat all day. I'll let you in on Justin's love for Nick Jonas, Emi's fabulous style, and Emily's dreamy semester abroad in France. Brittany will forever be the wildcard, but don't underestimate her ability to have a deep conversation. I'll share how Christian is really a big teddy bear, and EA is someone you want in your corner. Hollan and Katie will soon become some of your favorite people, and Meredith will inspire you to be better, stronger, and more confident. Sam will keep you laughing, while Serg remains calm in all situations. Brittan is the coolest chick you've ever met. Whit has a heart of gold. Oh, and you'll want to be roomies with Julia, because she clearly belongs in the city. And a little shout out to ZShal, because who can forget the little brother of the group?

These incredible people, as well as our amazing managers, mentors, and friends that call that office in Midtown home, made life as an Odyssey intern better than I could've ever imagined. They pushed me, encouraged me, and our GroupMe is still exploding on any given night. There will always be space in my heart reserved just for them.

Coming back to school, off the internship of a lifetime, I was beyond pumped to bring what I had learned in New York to the desert of Phoenix. Our GCU team was continuing to grow, kick butt, and inspire the community around us. I'm so glad to say that we're stronger than we've ever been. We are currently at 41 content creators, creating both video and written pieces, having game nights, auditioning for a lip sync battle together, and always being up for what comes next. I am proud of the kindness, toughness, and passion I see from these people through every piece they write.

Hitting the year mark with Odyssey is an incredible opportunity to look back and reflect. I tear up thinking about how far the GCU team has come, and how much I have changed as a person. Every conversation I have "would make a great article," and I find myself correcting the TV subtitles at the gym. I didn't know how much of an 'editor attitude' I had until I started doing this -- doing what I love. From the content creators who want to grab coffee just because, to the interns that I know I can always call up for advice, to my manager who is to this day the coolest person I've ever met, I love my Odyssey family. It's such a blessing to be connected to a group of people who don't only dream of change, but work for it. I am so proud to be an Odyssey editor-in-chief, an Odyssey intern, and, most importantly, an Odyssey friend.

Cover Image Credit: Lily M.

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I Ghosted My Old Self For 5 Months In An Effort To Reevaluate My Life

My life fell apart faster than a drunk dude approaching a Jenga stack.

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BREAKING (not fake) NEWS: It's true, you have to hit your lowest before hitting your highest.

I want to share my lowest with you, and I'm almost ashamed to say it had nothing to do with the loss of both of my parents. I like to think I handled that like a warrior.

Turns out I didn't, and the hurt I've been burying from that hit me all at once, the same moment my life fell apart faster than a drunk dude approaching a Jenga stack.

My life flipped upside down overnight back in August. I had my heart broken shattered, lost two very important friendships that I thought were with me until the end, lost my 9-5 job, my health took a hit stronger than a boulder, and I was absolutely lost. For the first time, ever, I let go of the reigns on my own life. I had no idea how to handle myself, how to make anyone around me happy, how to get out of bed or how to even begin the process of trying to process what the f*ck just happened. I was terrified.

Coming from the girl who never encountered a dilemma she couldn't fix instantaneously, on her own, with no emotional burden. I was checked out from making my life better. So I didn't try. I didn't even think about thinking about trying.

The only relatively understandable way I could think to deal with anything was to not deal with anything. And that's exactly what I did. And it was f*cking amazing.

I went into hiding for a week, then went on a week getaway with my family, regained that feeling of being loved unconditionally, and realized that's all I need. They are all I need. Friends? Nah. Family. Only. Always.

On that vacation, I got a call from the school district that they wanted me in for an interview the day I come home. It was for a position that entailed every single class, combined, that I took in my college career. It was a career that I had just gotten my degree for three months before.

I came home and saw my doctor and got a health plan in order. I was immediately thrown into the month-long hiring process for work. I made it a point to make sunset every single night, alone, to make sure I was mentally caught up and in-check at the same exact speed that my life was turning. I was not about to lose my control again. Not ever.

Since August, I have spent more time with family than ever. I've read over 10 new books, I've discovered so much new music, I went on some of my best, the worst and funniest first dates, I made true, loyal friends that cause me zero stress while completely drowning me in overwhelming amounts of love and support, I got back into yoga, and I started that job and damn near fell more in love with it than I ever was for the guy I lost over the summer.

But most importantly, I changed my mindset. I promised myself to not say a single sentence that has a negative tone to it. I promised myself to think three times before engaging in any type of personal conversation. I promised myself to wake up in a good mood every damn day because I'm alive and that is the only factor I should need to be happy.

Take it from a girl who knew her words were weapons and used them frequently before deciding to turn every aspect of her life into positivity — even in the midst of losing one of my closest family members. I have been told multiple times, by people so dear to me that I'm "glowing." You know what I said back? F*ck yes I am, and I deserve to.

I am so happy with myself and it has nothing to do with the things around me. It's so much deeper than that, and I'm beaming with pride. Of myself. For myself.

I want to leave you with these thoughts that those people who have hurt me, left me, and loved me through these last couple of months have taught me

Growth is sometimes a lonely process.
Some things go too deep to ever be forgotten.
You need to give yourself the permission to be happy right now.
You outgrow people you thought you couldn't live without, and you're not the one to blame for that. You're growing.
Sometimes it takes your break down to reach your breakthrough.

Life isn't fair, but it's still good.

My god, it's so f*cking good.

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Why Challenge is Good for Personal Growth

Challenging oneself more can increase performance and motivation towards a goal.

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Poet Ted Hughes, commenting on what happens when a person puts pen to paper, wrote, "you meet the terrible resistance of what happened your first year at it when you couldn't write at all." For years in the '80s, Hughes would judge poem contests and noted that the poems had gotten strangely boring as time progressed, although the poems were beautifully written with nary a grammatical error with many reaching seventy pages. This was around the time where home computers had penetrated into the household.

This is unsurprising, however, as many recent neurological studies have added strength to Hughes hypothesis, saying that the mere act of hand-writing activates part of the brain involving memory and thinking more than typing on the keyboard. But why is that? Typing on the keyboard makes it easier, more efficient to write, which is good but not necessarily best. This principle applies to many everyday things.

Walk into any gym and they will be packed to the brim with fancy machines to aid in working out. These machines work, there is no doubt about that, but they don't produce the same kind of functional strength as pure weightlifting would with dumbbells and barbells. Likewise, these machines produce a solid physique, just as the poems possess a strong understanding of the English language, but they lack the strength or creativity to back it up.

It is perhaps our human desire to develop ways to make life easier for ourselves, because why would we voluntarily want to have a difficult or challenging life? We wouldn't. However, it is this challenge, it is the difficulties that we face that make us grow as people. When we encounter difficulty we are forced to step back, figure out what we want and then devote resources to attain that goal. A rather personal example is my new weightlifting regime.

I was insecure about my squat and my legs because I had always struggled to do them with a knee injury I had as a child. After a session at the gym where I struggled to even do the bare minimum, I knew that I couldn't stop fooling myself anymore. I developed a schedule around improving my legs and my squat and it has worked wonders. Whenever I face a weight I'm struggling with, I keep trying until I get it perfect for multiple repetitions.

In a study done by scientists at the University of Amsterdam, they conducted several trials to learn how external obstacles affect our thought process. One experiment had two groups of people solving an anagram puzzle, one group was the control, while the other had random numbers read off while they were trying to solve the puzzle. Those in the experimental group actually demonstrated better cognitive ability. This was because they were likely to make mental associations and connections. The researches concluded that when people are faced with unexpected barriers they are more likely to widen their range of perception to look at the larger picture.

Take, for example, the creation of the first airplane. Wilbur and Orville had essentially nothing, not even a college degree. They ran a small bike shop in a small town in North Carolina. They had an idea, and seemingly infinite obstacles to achieve their goal: limited funding, lack of education, a small crew, and the biggest one was probably that they had a limited understanding of engineering. However, they weren't the only person that tried to build the flying machine. Samual Langley was a well known and respected engineer.

Educated at Harvard and friends with many bigwigs, he was sponsored and given millions of dollars to try and create a functional flying machine. He had all the resources he could ask for at the tip of his fingertips and failed to create this machine. However, a small crew headed by two bike repairmen was able to. It was precisely these difficulties that allowed their passion to thrive because they had to actually work for it, they had to apply everything they had to this project. Langley, on the other hand, not so much.

There are infinite examples, stories, personal anecdotes that could be presented to prove this point, and that's because it is nearly universal. Having obstacles pushes us to try harder, it motivates us to achieve, to create, to innovate. Without difficulty, we lose what makes us truly human, our drive to make more. We have the world at our fingertips in the world of technology, which is good in many respects, but sometimes write out that essay for English or work with the free weight section over the machines at the gym.

These difficulties don't have to be big, but when presented they can allow for greater cognitive ability producing products that can really make an impact. Hughes wisdom about the simple act of putting pen to paper, a trivial obstacle, will only become increasingly more important as technology continues to dominate more and more of our everyday lives and take away the traditional obstacles that have allowed us to remain uniquely human. So challenge yourself every now, look at it as a way to motivate, to improve, not as a pesky annoyance.

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