Earlier today, a friend sent me a message saying itís been 10 years since our high school graduation. I remember one of my teachers saying life goes by fast after the graduation ceremony and Iím starting to believe it. Where did the time go?
When you havenít been released into the real world yet, thereís a burning desire to get out and establish yourself ó to get a taste of the unknown. Iíve felt that desire for as long as I can remember. My mom raised an independent woman and she knew it the day I graduated from high school. I still remember what she told me at my graduation party, her eyes simultaneously sad and proud.
ďIíve always known that once you graduate and leave this town, youíre never coming back,Ē she said.
My ambition was too big for such a small town, she said. She was right about one thing ó the day I left Miller County was the last day I lived there. I was one of the lucky ones and found steady on-campus work in my field of choice during college. For the better part of four years, I worked in the public relations office writing promotional stories, sending out press releases and developing content for the quarterly magazine sent to alumni.
I was a dedicated staff member and later editor-in-chief of the school newspaper, another project that fit right in line with my journalism dreams. But to be completely honest with you, I didnít expect to work in the newspaper business when I graduated. It wasnít that I didnít want to ó†putting out a newspaper was my deepest desire. I loved starting the week with nothing and ending it with a project anybody would be proud of. I was never more at peace than those late nights in the newspaper office teaching myself Indesign concepts and hoping I was doing it right.
Thatís the thing about being a dreamer ó it doesnít necessarily mean you have all the confidence in the world. I had the highest GPA of my high school class, but so did most of my college classmates. I watched as my friends were inducted into prestigious academic clubs that rejected my applications. I canít tell you how many times I applied for internships with respected newspapers but I can tell you how many of those internships I received: approximately zero.
I donít say this for pity. In fact, I am grateful for that experience. We all need a wake-up call at some point to realize that no one can sit on a pedestal forever. The sooner we fall from the pedestal, the better. Thatís when we learn how to get up, brush ourselves off and keep going, often into unchartered territory. Thatís when we learn what weíre made of.
Graduating from college, I didnít feel like I was made of much besides fading ambition. I had no job lined up and really no prospects at all. In May 2014, I moved to Fayetteville to be with Gideon, figuring that we might as well stumble into the next stage of life together. Then something unexpected happened. I received a call about a nearby journalism job and ended up accepting a reporter position at Carroll County News. Gideon and I moved to Eureka Springs that July. And so our life together began.
Over the past six years, we have celebrated so many milestones here. I was promoted to associate editor in 2016 and Gideon finished his masterís degree in teaching just last year. Today, we both have jobs we love and coworkers who make
every day a good one. Itís a good life and it feels like we earned it together.
You might be wondering what happened to my missing confidence. Somewhere along the way, I found it again. It came back in pieces after finishing a story that mattered or hearing encouraging words from my boss. Iím still working on it, but arenít we all? The best anybody can do is keep going ó remember, fading ambition is still ambition.
Reflecting on my motherís words to me 10 years ago, Iíve realized that thereís plenty of room for ambition in a small town. Gideon and I used to talk about moving to a bigger city, but we havenít had that conversation in a long time. To put it plainly, we love it here. Carroll County has been the perfect place for us to grow into better versions of ourselves.
To all the folks who have supported my journey at Carroll County News, I have to say thank you. I wouldnít have expected to be where I am 10 years ago, and I have never been more grateful.