THE INSIDE SCOOP: 2020 taught me to value what I have and work for what I don’t

I hit on this a little last week when I talked about our Letters to Santa section, but I thought I would elaborate a little more this week since the end of the year is upon us — finally.

As I sit at my desk as a small town reporter, I’ve been reflecting on this year throughout the weeks as we get closer and closer to ringing in the New Year with 2021.

Before I get into my it’s-a-whole-new-chapter spill, I wanted to take this time to truly appreciate 2020 for what it is, even though it’s been a year filled with tragedies and mishaps. 

At the start of this year, I was still a pretty young reporter having just started in February 2019 without a background in this sort of thing. I sometimes joke about this with family or friends or even just to help ease someone’s nerves during an interview. 

But the thing is… it’s actually been really hard, and I’ve not opened up to talk about it. 

When I first started, I had to learn the ropes and was mostly in charge of your front-page content, which I still found difficult to manage because I was literally a new face. Not many people in the community are going to know a 19-year-old, fresh reporter coming into their meetings. 

Every time I went somewhere to cover an event or happening, I would get odd looks and a couple whispers that I maybe shouldn’t have been able to hear. I didn’t blame anyone for that because I knew it was hard to figure out who I was, especially this young, pregnant female at the time who was just sheepishly wandering around snapping pictures. 

Anyone who knows me knows how big of an introvert I am. That may come as a surprise to a few of you who I’ve met and maybe talked to for a story, but it’s true. It’s like I live two different lives: one at work where I’m open and don’t feel so shy and one in my private life where I’m completely shut off from the rest of the world. 

I found this even more difficult to learn how to handle this year, but somehow I managed. 

Over the course of 2020, I found myself loosening up a bit, being a little more open with anyone I talk to.

My dear friend Brandon Pennington, who is the Harlan Tourism Executive Director, told me a few weeks ago during an interview that it just felt like he was having a conversation with me. That is absolutely what I strive for every single time now. 

I like to make people feel comfortable, not like I’m battering them with 20 questions. I’ve strived to be friendly and shake the stereotype I’ve found reporters have. 

A year ago, trying to write a column would have literally sent me into a panic attack, not because I was scared of being rejected, but I was scared to put myself out there when I didn’t even like myself. That’s a tough pill to swallow for me, but it’s true.

I’ve struggled so much just trying to figure out who I am and what I want in life that, at times, I think I hate myself. I constantly question everything I do. I easily shut down sometimes, especially this year when I think everyone has just felt simply defeated. 

But looking forward to 2021, I see how much growth I’ve actually had this year, even during a global pandemic. The same goes for a lot of you I know, too. 

I hope next year can be a little kinder to us as we move forward, but I also hope no one takes the lessons they learned in 2020 for granted. 

Maybe you’ve lost close friends, split up from a love you thought would last forever, been hard on yourself over something you knew you couldn’t control and more, but I truly pray you will hold your head up like I’m trying to do and get better. 

Stop being so hard on yourselves for the growth you’ve had in 2020, even if it’s something you didn’t expect. 

As a professional and your Enterprise content guru, I’m telling you right now 2021 is going to be one exciting year for the newspaper. I’m working with my supervisors to bring a lot of new improvements, including some website updates that I hope can help and changes to the newsletter. 

As your friend, I’m wishing you the absolute best in 2021. If you need help, reach out and keep pushing forward. 

Here’s to 2021!