Getting Back in Your Groove

Hi there. In case you haven’t noticed, it’s been a while. A long while.

Last time I blogged, I was looking back on the year of 2018. It was a year full of changes: the end of high school, the beginning of college in a brand-new state, and taking a hard look at myself. Now, in 2019, I can confidently say that I am the happiest I have ever been. I have evolved into the most confident, passionate version of myself to date. That is something to celebrate. If you can also look back on the first half of 2019 with a smile and say that you’ve grown, hats off to you. Looks like New Year’s resolutions aren’t dead quite yet.

This new version of myself has kept me on my toes, to be quite honest. One of the big reasons that I haven’t blogged since ringing in the new year is because I lacked inspiration for posts. I ultimately attribute this creative drainage to how busy I’ve been. Any moment of rest over the past few months was used to just zone out completely and relax. My creative juices were somewhat on a hiatus, but now with an already great summer underway, I’m feeling my urge to write trickle back to me. I hope to write a minimum of one post per month for the remainder of the year (someone please hold me to this!).

In an attempt to further fill up the story wall and fill you all in on my absence, here is what I’ve been up to for roughly half of 2019 (yikes!):


Chicago winters are no joke. The windy city makes every winter day about ten times more unbearable. Keeping that in mind, why did I choose to go to a school where winters are still pretty intense? Thanks, Ohio.

Aside from trying to keep warm this month, I came back to campus for spring semester as The Post’s news staff writer. I had to keep up with a weekly quota, which was a big yet rewarding adjustment. 

Also, my younger sister and cousin made their way down to Athens for Ohio University’s Siblings Weekend. We had a dorm room sleepover, made plenty of iced coffee runs, and I showed them around my second hOUme. It’s always nice to see family on campus when they’re now states away from me during the school year.


I flew home for spring break during this month. I got to catch up with friends, enjoy some Chicagoland food (hi, Portillo’s!), and spend time with my family. I always enjoy breaks, and spring break is what I needed to push through the rest of the school year. 


The month of April always seems to be one of the busiest. Within the month’s chaos, I celebrated my 19th birthday. No, I still don’t feel like an adult. Ask me again in about a year.

I also attend the 52nd Annual E.W Scripps School of Journalism Awards Banquet. I was honored with a scholarship for my sophomore year and got to enjoy a delicious meal. Special thanks to Sarah for sitting through the ceremony with me!

In April, I was also chosen as one of The Post’s news editors for the 2019-2020 school year. After a year full of interviews, writing, and covering meetings, I’m excited to learn more about a different facet of journalism as an editor. Yay news!


May rang in the end of my freshman year of college. Before I knew it, I was done with finals and packing up my dorm room. Freshman year of college was undoubtedly the fastest school year of my life. But, it didn’t come without growth. I learned how to say “no” and avoid overcommitment. I stepped outside of my comfort zone. I made new friends who are now some of my closest confidants. If you told me freshman year of high school where I’d be attending college and how the year would shake out for me, I don’t think I’d believe you. What I do know is that I’m incredibly grateful for this year and all that it taught me.

Shortly after arriving home, I got to witness my older brother graduate with a degree in Chemistry from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. It was a proud moment for my family, but it was also scary to think about how that’ll be me in three years. 

The first couple weeks of summer were the perfect way to unwind after a busy school year. I went hiking with friends at Starved Rock State Park, enjoyed some delicious local coffee, and visited my old high school. Before I knew it, I was packing up to return to Ohio.


I spent June in Columbus working as an intern at Matter News. Matter is a nonprofit investigative news outlet focusing on hyper-local news in the city. During my time with Matter, I got to shoot video, cover a town hall, write one of my longest pieces of journalism to date, and explore the amazing city of Columbus. It’s hard to believe that after spending so much time in Ohio, I didn’t know much about Columbus, but I enjoyed every minute I spent in the city. I learned so much during my time at Matter and I’m excited for my investigation to soon be posted on their website

Truthfully, not every resolution or goal I made for 2019 stuck. I planned to blog at least once a month in 2019, and that failed miserably. Even if you haven’t accomplished what you strived for at the beginning of this year, please don’t give up entirely. In the midst of the halfway mark for 2019, take some time to reevaluate your goals, look at your accomplishments, and move forward with confidence. You’ve got this.

Inhale, Exhale, and Welcome 2019

Every New Year’s Eve, social media seems to explode with posts and memes about how awful the current year was. People bring up the worst things that happened, we all vow to do better, and cliched New Year’s resolutions fill up our timelines. Frankly, I’m over it.

Maybe I’m alone in saying this, but 2018 was a good year. Not everyone can relate to graduating high school and beginning an amazing, fruitful college experience, but 2018 brought on so many changes for me. Some were good, all were lessons, and the year was full of monumental growth. I learned the value of my own voice, how to not stress about the future and its seemingly infinite unpredictability, and the true value of friendship. A blissful, carefree summer in my hometown gave way to me finding a new home and becoming the epitome of a “midwestern gal”, splitting my time between Illinois and Ohio. For the first time in perhaps, forever, I’ve gotten to know myself on a deeper, richer level than ever before.

But this process still isn’t complete, nor was it perfect. I’ve done a lot of reflecting as the year has winded down. What I’ve discovered from this introspection is that having a deep sense of self doesn’t equate to having an overflowing amount of self-love.

In 2018, I achieved some of my greatest accomplishments. None of this would have been possible without me pushing myself to a new level. Despite all of my victories, I began to think that my best wasn’t good enough. I wasn’t happy with essays I received A’s on, I thought I should have applied for more scholarships, and my final grade in precalculus was less than satisfactory (for the record, I’ve never been a math person, and I likely never will be). Family members showered me with praise, and I acted like I was eating it up. Truth was, I wasn’t proud. I thought I wasn’t doing enough, and that I myself wasn’t enough. I became discontent with even my best of efforts and my body, seemingly finding flaws in every crevice of my life that I could.

In 2018, I discovered my true self, flaws and all. Now, I want 2019 to be the year I am happy, confident, and accepting of myself. I want to feel comfortable in my body and my abilities. I want to be able to say, “I gave this opportunity my full effort, and that is enough.” 

Yes, 2018 had its ups and downs. But, overall, the year was a success. I challenge you all to ignore the negative posts about 2018 and show the same love for both 2018 and 2019. Your lessons and experiences in 2018 are the basis for growth in 2019, and for that, the year is meaningful and impactful. Don’t minimize it. 

If you’re feeling nervous about a new year or feel overwhelmed by the amount of overzealous New Year’s Resolutions on your social media feeds, you’re not alone. We hype up each year to be better than the last. 2019 may or may not be your best year to date, but that doesn’t mean that it will be without valuable lessons and beautiful memories. Take a deep breath, internalize your hopes and dreams for the year to come, and let it all out. Recognize these desires, but don’t let them weigh you down. Breathe, release, and celebrate the year that’s yet to come.

2019 is here, and I am ready for it. I hope you are, too.

What I Learned During my First Semester of College

Maybe it’s the fact that it’s partway through my first college finals week and I want to distract myself, or the fact that I feel like a lifetime has passed in a matter of months, but I’ve been rather reflective lately. Thinking about the person I was when I got here and how much I’ve accomplished, it’s mind-boggling to see the effects college has had on me.

It seems cliche when people say that “college changes you”. But, being in a new environment with new people and a newfound sense of independence, it’s quite easy to notice shifts in your personality and habits. I know that I’ve picked up on things I never knew about myself. Here are five things that I’ve learned after my first semester in college:

It’s cool (and good!) to have multiple friend groups.

Depending on the size of your college campus, you’ll be exposed to anywhere between hundreds to thousands of new people. Why not take the chance to befriend lots of them? Don’t feel compelled to stick to only one group of friends. It’s great to have a group of friends to eat meals with, to go out with, and to study with. Multiple friends groups also help you get a richer college experience. You’ll be able to appreciate a more diverse range of viewpoints, and you’ll never have to worry about hanging out with certain people too much. Trust me, it can be exhausting to be around people 24/7 in college. Fight this exhaustion by making sure you’re spending time with various people to avoid arguments or falling outs.

College is much more of a balancing act than high school.

In high school, I was a fairly involved person. I was in multiple bands, on the board of two honor societies (and a member of even more!), and was a captain of the speech team.  I felt as though by senior year, I had gotten the concept of balancing my social life, school work, and health down to an art.

Coming to college, I realized that I had it all wrong.

Social lives in college are much more demanding than in high school. You have to keep good relations with your roommate, have to find people to study or have fun with, and weekend are always filled with some sort of activity to attend. Sometimes, I found that homework keeps you from friends, or you spend too much time with friends and neglect your other responsibilities. Student organizations add another layer of commitment to an already busy schedule. Sometimes my responsibilities to student media double the amount of work I have in one night.

Try to find a balance early on. Make clear distinctions of when you can hang out with friends and when you need to buckle down and study. Utilize a planner. And, if you can be a bit forgetful like me, keep a stack of post-it notes to write reminders on.

It’s okay to be homesick. You’re not the only one.

Being an out-of-state student has been one of my biggest adjustments. While I love Ohio University and know that I made the right choice in going here, it doesn’t make being so far from friends and family easier. Don’t be afraid to tell your college friends that you’re homesick. I promise they won’t think you’re super lame. Odds are, at least one of them is feeling the same way. Plus, the amount of people who go home for 3 day weekends is a testament to the fact that everyone longs to pet their dog or enjoy a home-cooked meal every once in a while.

Your emotions are valid. Don’t bottle them up.

In high school, it’s easy to bottle up your emotions towards negative situations. You have a place to retreat and clear your head: your own home. In college, this is not the case. Odds are, you’ll have a roommate and will almost constantly be around other people. And, trust me, they’ll be able to sense if you’re stewing in anger or upset about something. 

If you have a problem with a roommate or friend, confront it head on. These relationships are still new, and harboring negative emotions or not confronting problems can only hurt your relationship in the future. Sometimes, your roommate or friend may feel the same way and they’re equally as nervous to bring up the elephant in the room as you. Even if discussing your feelings doesn’t fix the situation, it at least addresses the problem, and that’s a start.

Personally, I’ve had to address some situations that have made me uncomfortable or upset this semester. Knowing when to bring up problems with your friends or roommate can be a challenge, but sooner is always better than later (or never!). Be straightforward and honest. Focus on your feelings towards the situation but be open to hearing the other person’s perspective as well. There’s always a give-and-take in friendships and college is no exception.

Be open to new things.

There’s a saying here at OU that’s so popular, we’ve got a Snapchat filter for it: Athens Happens. Wherever you go to college, you’re bound to find an entirely new culture from what you had in your hometown. There are new things to do, new places to explore, and a million lessons for you to learn along the way. The bottom line is, try at least some of these things. The experiences you have from stepping outside of your comfort zone are the ones you’ll remember on graduation day. I won’t remember eating in the dining halls or studying with friends– the typical college moments. I’ll remember spontaneously getting pizza late at night, heart-to-heart conversations while walking around Peden stadium, and trying out all the local coffee shops.

Yes, college is about finding yourself. But that doesn’t mean you have to completely reinvent your character.  Above all, be open to your new lifestyle molding who you are; just don’t let it reshape you entirely. 

Homecoming Part II: Thanksgiving Break

Thanksgiving Break marked my first time returning to my hometown since the beginning of college. My personal “homecoming” marked a lot of firsts for me, actually: my first plane ride alone, my first time seeing friends and family since I went to college, and my first time getting lost in an airport (and unfortunately, it probably won’t be the last).

My time away from Ohio University was fairly jam-packed. I spent a lot of time catching up with friends from high school, visiting family, and quite frankly, stepping away from my homework to relax a bit.

Being back in Oswego, Illinois was a breath of fresh air. But, at the same time, it felt strange to revisit my hometown after being away for so long. My bedroom no longer felt like my own (did I really get that much room to myself?) and I no longer felt the same resentment towards my hometown that I once did.

I feel a split in me now. I have a home in Athens and Oswego. And that split is somehow a beautiful thing. I have found that I can create a place of solace and comfort where ever I go. It’s not the location that makes the home; it’s the people.

The people in Oswego will always hold a place in my heart. Now, they just need to scoot over a bit to make room for my newfound family in Athens.

The video below shows my experience of going home for the first time: the epiphany I had about what home is, the beauty of my friends and family, and the travels I had commuting between my two home states. I hope you enjoy it as much as I enjoyed my break. 

Homecoming Part I: An Open Letter to my Hometown

The Oswego High School Color Guard before our summer Prairie Fest Parade.
Members of the JFreshman Newsroom who also write for The Post.

Dear Oswego,

I really hate to admit this, but I’m going to anyway. I miss you.

I never really thought I would miss you. Yes, I miss my family terribly, and it’s not easy being seven hours away from the people who know me best. It shouldn’t have been this hard to leave when feel no personal connection to you. Yet, it was, and at first, I didn’t understand why. You are the typical American suburb: chain restaurants line the streets, cookie-cutter houses are home to seemingly perfect families, and everyone is content with their 9-to-5. When I was with you, I could never help but long for more. There was a whole world packed with giant cities and people to meet. There were people to meet and mountains to move. I vowed to only return to Illinois if I was living in Chicago. I needed to be somewhere that was bigger than me. I needed to feel that I was actively contributing to society, not just going through the motions everyday. That’s all the suburbs seemed to offer: passivity.

It took me a while to understand what changed my feelings towards you. I felt nothing scrolling through social media and seeing posts from people back home. I didn’t care if you won the football game. That was, until homecoming arrived in your vicinity, and soon after, in mine.

When I was with you, homecoming was a constant. It was something I could rely on to always be there year after year. I would dress for the spirit days with my friends and the school song seemed to be ingrained in my head. But most importantly, I loved the homecoming parade. I loved smiling until my face hurt while spinning my flag in the marching band. I loved creating a flag routine to our school song and watching something I made come to life on the streets. Parades were a part of me. In a way, I guess that makes you a part of me.

It was hard to let go of my past homecomings when I was faced with my first homecoming here at OU. The whole idea of homecoming at OU felt strangely alienating. Being an out-of-state student is alienating enough at times. Having the constant of marching band ripped away from me just added to my feeling of being an outsider. Homecoming felt like something I was no longer directly connected to. And, as a result, I didn’t seem to care as much leading up to the parade.

This is partially why I hate to admit that I miss you. During the parade, all my preconceptions went out the window, and I had a blast. Home doesn’t just mean you. It doesn’t just mean my direct family, or the family I used to have within my band. Families can be anyone who makes you feel like you belong. Family is anyone that makes you feel home.

My new family isn’t with the band; it’s with The Post. It’s a family that still feels new, but I’m getting more comfortable with it. The Post is becoming my new normal, and in a way, it feels freeing to accept it. I can’t live in the past of you, Oswego. There are still thousands of people to meet and mountains to move. I’ve found a new family, and a new mountain, here in Athens. Next time homecoming comes around, I’ll be excited because of this new family I’ve joined.

You’ll always be a part of me, Oswego. But now, Athens is too, and that’s perfectly fine. It’s okay to miss parts of you, but I can’t let you hold me back, either. There’s still bigger and better things at the peak of each mountain yet to come.

Thank you for being the first hill in my trek of life. I’ll never forget you, and thank you for all that you’ve taught me.

Love always,



Hello, and welcome to Abby’s Story Wall.

I’m Abby Miller, a current freshman at Ohio University studying News and Information Journalism and Political Science. If you want to learn more about who I am, I suggest clicking on the About tab above. Otherwise, let’s skip the formal introductions and dive straight into the purpose of my first blog post: welcoming you all into my world.

Back in high school, I always wanted to start a blog. Designing a website and posting my own musings sounded like a lot of fun, but for various reasons, blogging wasn’t in the cards for me. But, now we’ve made it here to my website, and I couldn’t be more excited.

I’m sure some of you also get that itching feeling where you just need to put words on paper (or, in this case, tap away on your keyboard). This site will serve as a relief to my pent up desire to write, but it will also house articles I’ve written for various campus outlets. As I begin the process of posting my past articles, I hope you all take a look!

When thinking of a name for my website, all of my creativity seemed to vanished. I wanted to think of something witty (perhaps even a bit punny), but I kept coming up short. Nothing seemed right.

But then I remembered a summer afternoon spent revisiting my humble beginnings as a storyteller.

I had been cleaning my room in preparation for leaving for my freshman year of college. Amongst the clutter, I came across a plastic bag filled with scraps of paper. Some were a bit wrinkled, and others had tape on their backs and were stuck to the bag. My first thought was to toss the bag in my growing pile of trash, but then a certain scrap of paper caught my eye: Abby’s Story Wall.

The pieces paper were part of my childhood collection of stories. When I was younger, I had an entire wall in my bedroom filled with crayon drawings and snippets of stories. Of course, I was a child, so they’re not the best stories. But, rereading the stories made smile nonetheless. Looking back at what I created long ago showed me the very beginning of my passion for telling stories. In a way, I never lost that childlike wonder for storytelling.

Today, my storytelling ambitions have just shifted into a slightly new direction: journalism. As I continue to gather experience throughout my years in college, I cannot wait to keep growing my voice, evolving my style, and above all, become a storyteller that the little Abby surrounded with crayons and pieces of paper could be proud of.

So, join me on this journey. Let’s see where Ohio University and a thirst for good stories leads me.