Vox blog: the story behind the story

“After I figured out that college life was going to throw at me what it wanted…I shook the urge to overthink and quickly returned to my risk-taking, adventurous spirit that left me open to more experiences,” says VOX ATL alum Thalia Butts.

Life After High School: ‘I’ll Be Alright No Matter What’


Life after high school has been a constant learning curve, one that I’m somehow managing to survive, but also one that I don’t think I could have ever been fully prepared for.

Leaving high school, I felt mentally and academically ready, but the fact still remained that I was moving to a new, rural city in a different state to study and live with complete strangers. I became obsessed with the idea that I could prepare myself for this new journey by stuffing self-help, self-reflection, and ambiguously motivational content down my throat with hopes that what I could digest would make me invincible to all personal or emotional storms. I remember writing an article about the lessons I had pulled from “Flower Boy,” Tyler, the Creator’s then newly released album, that I thought would help me in my transition. I admire and honor 2017 Thalia for her efforts and dedication to taking charge of her experience, but looking back, the intentionality she had was a bit misplaced.

No amount of journaling could have prepared me for meeting my best friends during orientation week, and working through developing a tight-knit group rooted in honesty, transparency, adventure and love. No amount of research could have prepared me, a girl with a driver’s license and a working vehicle that had free reign over the metro Atlanta area for years, for life in a town that was an hour from the nearest movie theater, bowling alley, or real mall. 

Thankfully, after I figured out that college life was going to throw at me what it wanted, whether I was ready or not, I shook the urge to overthink and quickly returned to my risk-taking, adventurous spirit that left me open to more experiences, spontaneity, and the peace that comes with knowing that you’re doing your best right now and everything beyond that is out of your control and therefore none of your business.

So, in the VOXiest way I know how, I present to you my top three experiences in college so far, what I learned from them, and maybe how I could’ve used that knowledge in high school!

My Semester in Japan

I spent five months in Osaka, Japan, studying rigorously and roaming about the country when I got the chance. My travels taught me that if you want to do something or go somewhere, you cannot afford to wait on other people. Bravery is key to living the life you want to live on your own terms, not only abroad, but wherever you may be. 

My Friends

While we may not be friends for the rest of our lives (though it feels like we will be, honestly), we have been really great at showing up for each other for the last three years, being gentle but also holding each other accountable, and supporting each other through all of our changes, lessons, failures, and successes. 

My Leadership Positions

Through occupying various positions of leadership, I’ve learned that some people or organizations are going to want different things from you, some of which may be beyond what you’re comfortable giving. The key is to be upfront about your boundaries and protect them at all costs because, oftentimes, no one else will.  

My life after high school has been a wild ride, and I have a feeling it’s only going to get wilder as I approach my senior year. What brings me the most comfort is that I know that’ll I’ll be alright, no matter what.