Sunday, May 29, 2016

Taking the long way

This isn't the first time I've realized that I'm not perfect.

But it is the first time I've realized that sometimes imperfections can be exactly what you need.

When I first started college almost six years ago, I was set on one thing: Journalism. I did everything I could to be the best at it; whether I was freelancing for the local paper or working as editor of my college paper, I wasn't about to be stopped. 

But when the time came to do it in the "real world," I flaked. My anxiety, which had only occasionally flared up in my life prior, took over almost every waking minute of my day. I despised the work, the environment and everything about it. I liked what I was doing, but I didn't like doing it.

It's hard to explain.

So when I left that "dream" job, saddled with a fairly sizeable amount of student debt and regret, I felt stuck. Here I'd be paying off a monthly loan for the next 8 years, a monthly reminder of my biggest failure in my life. 

Or was it?

I thought that job was the only thing I was capable of doing. I thought it was the only thing I'd ever do.

It took almost a year, but I realized that those skills - writing, interviewing, learning - that I perfected while I racked up debt were still with me. Why shouldn't I put that time and effort into something worthwhile?

A couple months ago I started a personal project titled "A Twist in History: The Jacob Haish Story." Jacob Haish is an ancestor of mine and one of the original inventors of barbed wire, the invention that fenced the West. I was set out to tell my local community about the man behind the wire. I didn't expect much at first because it was so new.

But I couldn't have imagined such a warm reception. Members of the community have really stepped up to support it.

I was writing a freelance story for a newspaper yesterday when I kept running into members of the community who have helped me with, or had heard about the project. I received congratulations, words of advice, and even scoops on more. Someone told me that it seems like since I left my last job, I seem really in control of my life and that I'm doing the things that I want to do. That I seem happy. She also said that I have the skills needed for this job, a job that needs to be done, which is telling the story of this person that history sometimes forgets.

It was so eye-opening.

I've had my dark patches, and in the last year or so, I've been working hard to see the light. Sometimes it feels like I'm taking the long way, but I'm starting to become truly grateful for the lessons I've learned along the way.

It may have not been the picture-perfect journey, but it's perfect for me.

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