Anna Colby impressed me right away as someone who sought out a position as a writer with MySaline, even though we hadn’t advertised one. She then proceeded to write a piece to apply for the non-existent position that actually made me angry to read… because I couldn’t find a single correction to make in the then-17-year-old’s writing. It became her first column, unedited. She wrote 14 columns beginning in the summer of everyone’s discontent – 2020. This is her last, a goodbye column that made me puddle up a little. I’ll miss you too, Anna. You are really close to finding your voice. Keep writing, and you’re welcome back any time.
New beginnings are marked by the hope that arises from change in a person’s life. 2021 is one such example. As new years typically do, it has restored optimism for the achievement of personal goals, the creation of new solutions, and in the case of this year, a steady recovery for the world.
Change is inevitable, which can be a very good thing. But just as often, change can be frightening as well. I think most high school seniors will agree with me. Young adults – and really, late teenagers – are more or less expected to have everything “figured out.” Are you going to college? What will you major in? What do you want to do?
It is not easy to decide, and even less so when many schools have pivoted to online learning. Is college good for me? What can I afford? What do I want to do?
These are the questions that plague late teenage existence; and for many, it’s at this same time that we’re asking ourselves who we even are. And who do we want to be?
I say all this to emphasize that change brings hope but also great uncertainty. This year has brought change in most everyone’s lives, and I am no exception.
About a week ago, my father learned he is being transferred to Mississippi for his job, and we are now in the process of getting ready to move. Therefore, I will not be able to continue to write for MySaline.
That being said, I have greatly appreciated Ms. Poole giving me the opportunity to be a part of this publication. It has long since been a dream of mine to become a journalist, and this has been an enjoyable and invaluable learning opportunity.
In the short time I’ve been able to write for MySaline, I’ve learned a lot of things. Specifically, I’ve learned that really, truly being a writer it is not as simple as it may seem. All aspects of the craft – from brainstorming, to conducting interviews, to forming thoughts in a way that is compelling and even simply coherent – takes time, energy, and tons of practice.
I’ve also learned how important words can be. I mean, I think everyone knows words have power. That’s the phrase, isn’t it? It may seem overused, even cliché. But it takes on a new meaning when you find yourself suddenly planted in front of a computer, fingers posed above the keyboard, wracking your brain for the right words. You find yourself standing on a stage before (potentially) an entire county of people. No, rather, you find yourself standing on a hundred different stages, each before a unique individual – not all at once, but in the brief moments that someone decides to click on your column and read, curious what you have to say. And your words are anchored in time, continuing to exist long after you have spoken them, but remaining very capable of provoking thought in each person who reads them.
It is intimidating, to say the least.
Wasn’t it Uncle Ben in Spiderman who said, “With great power comes great responsibility?” The power of words is undoubtedly one of the greatest strengths of humanity. It is a journalist’s responsibility to write the truth and nothing less or more, and to absolutely avoid personal bias when presenting facts and information. In other words, when I joined this publication, I very quickly had to learn to research and verify. Always research and verify. Then check, and double-check, and triple-check. Facts must be presented impartially.
That is not to undermine the importance of opinion in journalism. Regarding editorials, I have only just begun to truly “find” my voice. I know I still have a long way to go. I am unsure where God will lead me next. I may even return to Arkansas for college; all the same, the skill of utilizing language to inspire positive change is something I hope to continue to build in the future.
But I will miss Saline County. I will miss little things like walking through downtown Benton and the morning chirping of the little bird that sits in the tree right outside my window – as well as much bigger things, like the friends I have made and all of the amazing people I have met.
I wish you all the best. This county will always be a part of me, and I am blessed to have been a part of it.