Twelve years ago, I made a decision to follow my head, not my heart, and put my career first. I’d just completed my first post-college internship at the Abilene Reporter-News in Texas and, having impressed my supervisor, was offered full-time employment at the end of my three-month stint.
It sounded like a great arrangement. I enjoyed working for the paper, I already knew and liked all my colleagues, I’d sussed out the city’s good hangouts and, well, there was a guy. I’d been seeing a kind, intelligent fellow for a couple months, and we had a fun, casual relationship.
However, at the same time, I also was offered a job at the Island Packet in Hilton Head, South Carolina. It was halfway across the country from my current residence and I knew no one in the Lowcountry. However, the job was in a bigger market and it paid better. Having always promised myself during college that I’d make the right moves for my career, I bid farewell to my boyfriend, colleagues and my life in Texas and headed for the East Coast. I’m not sorry I did; it was the right decision at the time.
More than a decade later, I still love journalism — especially newspapers — but my priorities have changed considerably.
When I picked up and moved 1,242 miles with only the belongings that would fit in my small car, I was 22 years old and mostly free of obligations. I had no spouse, no children, no mortgage, no established social network, no familial responsibilities, not even a pet.
Now, though, I have all those things and more. I’m a wife, a mother, a homeowner, a church member and, yes, I have a dog and a cat. Over the years, I’ve come to learn that staying true to journalism and putting my newspaper career first doesn’t always jive well with the demands of family life. I’m often torn between proving myself valuable to my employer and giving my daughter and husband the attention they deserve.
Late-night breaking news stories, extra-long workdays, frequent weekend and holiday shifts, a cellphone that rings around the clock — it has, at times, been a lot to handle. I’ve been happy to do it, though, because that’s what I signed on for and, as I said, I take my job seriously. But I also take motherhood seriously. My daughter — who is and will be an only child — will have just one childhood. When I realized I was missing much more of it than I was witnessing, I knew a change was in order.
I’m a dedicated, hard worker and always will be — no matter what job I’m tasked with. I’m committed to tackling professional responsibilities with passion and optimism. Soon, though, those responsibilities will have little to do with journalism.
My last day as regional editor of the Coastal Courier and Bryan County News is Feb. 20. Starting Feb. 23, I’ll step into the role of Main Street Program coordinator and special-events planner for the city of Hinesville — a move I couldn’t be more thrilled to make. I’m especially pleased about staying in this community, which I’ve grown to love and take an interest in. I look forward to working toward its continuous improvement.
I know this is the right decision to make, just as I knew 12 years ago I needed to make newspapers my utmost priority. It all worked out, after all. The gentleman I left behind in Texas? He’s now my husband, which I’ve taken to mean that what’s meant to be will always find a way.
Thank you, Liberty and Long counties, for letting me deliver news to you the past seven years. I’ve enjoyed my time here immensely and truly believe this little pocket of Coastal Georgia is an exceptional place to live, work, play and raise a family — just a few of the many reasons why I’m glad I’ll still be a part of it.