A New Year brings new hope; shine bright in 2019

As I waited in line at the bank this morning trying to file a claim on my hacked checking account, I sent a bitter text message to my mother about how very little about the true adult life has gone correctly since I began.

My 17-year-old Honda broke twice in the span of a month, I got into fights with both Elizabethton Utilities and my apartment landlord over bills I did not know were due, I completely ran out of food in my apartment yesterday, and did I mention my ATM card got skimmed at a gas station during the Christmas season, costing me over $300 and my peace of mind two days before my rent is due again?

It was this afternoon I remembered I spent the better part of 2018 as a whole in a semi-state of panic.

I graduated college in May, accomplishing something I almost thought would not come to pass (just ask my English professors). Despite all the hardships I went through during those four years, including sitting on my bed two days into my freshman year crying over a box of Cheez-its because I could not make any friends, I found my true calling at Austin Peay State University. I discovered I love to write, and I love using my writing to shine a light on and benefit my community whenever possible. I graduated with the fiery desire to become a journalist.

I then spent five months desperately searching for any company that wanted to hire me, learning the hard way how brutal and merciless the job field truly was. The only job I was able to acquire was an OfficeMax position that sucked the soul out of me more times than it did not.

Then, in October, I did it. The Elizabethton Star wanted me on their staff. I made it. I got my own apartment, I paid for my own food and I started forming adult relationships with real, actual adults.

Oh, how brutal and merciless the real, actual adult world really is.

Mom did not prepare me for getting blamed for not paying a bill I was never informed about because they lost the notice in the mail. I was not informed just how unbelievably expensive food really is. I was not informed about how different Carter County was from anywhere else I had ever lived, and where on God’s green Earth is the Walmart?

Despite all this, however, I looked back at just how much I had accomplished over the past two months.

I graduated college, something not every American can say they accomplished. I got a job within the grace period of my student loans, something not everyone in my class is able to do. Not only did I get a job, I got a job where I can see, firsthand, the good I am doing for this community with every article I write. I got my dream job.

This year, like every year, actually, has taught me life plays dirty. It is cruel, selfish, condescending and merciless. It will kick you in the groin whether you are ready for it or not. That does not mean, however, we should lie down and take it, however.

Fight back with everything you have. When life sucker-punches you with rude, condescending people and events, smile right in its face. When the flood tries to snuff out your candle, pull out a lighter and light another one. When you trip on a tree root and face-plant the dirt, use the root to pull yourself back up, mocking its attempts to belittle you.

Some of us might be ending 2018 on a high note. Some of us are struggling to make ends meet, wondering how on Earth life could get any worse.

If you had asked me this morning which side of the fence I was on, I would have said the latter, but thinking more about it, I am really not. I got my dream job, I have friends I meet with regularly, both in-person and online and I know my presence here is making a difference impossible anywhere else.

It is a New Year, with infinite possibilities based on the paths we choose. I needed a reminder to choose light over despair. Do not forget to make your choice this year, too. You never know what future tomorrow’s Sun may illuminate.

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