A wonderful year

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Today is my one-year anniversary at Carroll County News. It has been wonderful.

It's hard for me to believe that I was graduating from college a little over a year ago with no idea what I would do or where I would go. With a little money saved up, I planned to live as frugally as possible while searching for jobs. I didn't think this would drive me crazy but it certainly did.

I recall spending many Saturday nights crying over a bottle of cheap wine and fast food takeout, wondering if a potential employer would ever call me back. Eventually, I secured a job in the legal department of a credit card company. It wasn't my dream job but it was a job.

That's when I heard about the opening at Carroll County News. I'd already been rejected by so many employers that it didn't bother me that much to contact the managing editor here. If he doesn't like me, I thought, I can just work for that credit card company until something else happens for me.

Fortunately, I got the job. I traveled between elation and nervousness the week before moving to Eureka Springs, excited to be working in a field I love but fearful that I'd somehow manage to screw it up. With a year's work under my belt, I think it's safe to say that I've screwed up far less than I expected to.

That's not what's most surprising, though. This job has changed me. The people of Carroll County have changed me. When I started working here, I felt pretty pessimistic about everything. I'd write off a good thing by questioning how it would eventually go bad, feeling I wasn't meant to be joyful in times of joy.

Slowly, I've come to learn that people are good not just sometimes but most of the time. I've seen that happen here, from the way the community has teamed up to help Chief Muniz pay for experimental cancer treatment to small acts that have made me feel personally welcome. Notably, I recall receiving a moving letter from a reader regarding my column about domestic violence.

At a writing workshop this weekend, I realized how lucky I am to have a job that allows me to tell stories. The women I met were beautiful souls and talented writers, yet many of them had never been paid to write professionally. I thought that was a shame, because so many of them have so much to say.

That reminded me of the first feature story I wrote in college. The story was about my college's long-gone chorale group, a group that had performed in several USO tours. When speaking with the former chorale director, I found motivation to work as a journalist.

"It was the best time of my life," the chorale director said. "I never thought anyone would think it a story worth telling."

Of course it was a story worth telling. We all have a story worth telling. I'm so lucky that I get to write stories like that every day, and I hope every person I interview knows how important his or her story is.

Today is my one-year anniversary at Carroll County News. It has been wonderful, and it's only getting better.