Writing your life, one chapter at a time

The Prairie. Art by Chris Brockman.

The Prairie. Art by Chris Brockman.

When I realized I had to write a goodbye letter that summarizes my time at The Prairie and at WTAMU, my first thought was “do I have to?” I didn’t know what I wanted to say and, frankly, still don’t. I was never one for goodbyes, and I’m not going to change that habit now. So I will refrain from writing a lofty two- weeks notice and spare you all from a sappy adieu that probably won’t even phase half of the campus since half of you don’t even know me.

Instead, I will leave you all with a more practical approach to my exit from the newsroom. A confession tinted with some advice.

I never wanted to be a journalist. There, I said it. The first time my mother even suggested the notion to me I gagged, quite literally. I didn’t particularly enjoy the thought of working long hours with a deadline every day or interviewing strangers.

As a child, I was shy, quiet and timid. I took after both my parents when I felt more inclined to stay at home eating bon-bons and having family time around the television than actually being social. I did love to write, though. Still do. I can say that I’ve always imagined being a writer, just not one for a news outlet. However, per my mother’s wishes, I gave journalism a shot and within a month of my first journalism class, I fell in love.
To clarify, this sudden passion for the press didn’t include a fondness for long hours, deadlines, or even the sport of hunting down interviewees. My joy for journalism derived from the desire to share stories.

You see, if there’s one thing I’ve learned in my career as a student journalist, it’s that stories are everywhere. They aren’t just found in the ear-splitting ring of surprise evacuation bells or hidden in the virtual realities of anonymous Twitter accounts. Though those stories often make the front page, and rightly so, I learned there’s more to being a journalist than finding the big news stories.

Some of the best stories are hidden in the individual. They are delicately placed in the lives of people that surround you every day. There’s a story behind the quiet girl sitting in the back of class, the stranger who politely nods at you down the hallway or in the firm handshake of a new employer. Without those people, there would be no stories to tell. There would be no hardships to share, triumphs to celebrate, pain to endure and strength to build.

I witnessed these stories come to light during my college career and I told myself, “I bet there are more.” Not only that, I realized that everyone has something to share. Every student, every faculty member, staff, child, police officer, grocer, lawyer and homeless man and woman; all these people have a story to tell. Who am I to decide which one is more important than the other?

So I tell all of you, not just the graduating seniors, but everybody who may be reading this, there are no goodbyes. There are only new chapters in the story of your life. The only goodbye there will ever be is the one you must say before passing on to the next life, and since God only know when that is, it’s up to you to continue writing your own story every day as if it’s your last. Write it, create it and live it. And don’t think for one second that your story isn’t worth telling. Everyone has a story worth telling and if you don’t like yours, change it. Don’t sit back and wait for a story to come to you. Seek out your own adventure, because at the end of your life, when caps and gowns are hung up, careers are made, babies are born and grown and when all is said and done, there will be nothing left but a story to tell: the story of you. So make it a good one.

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