You can do it, Linds. You can do this! I reminded myself walking up a white staircase into a large white room decorated with home décor accents from Family Dollar. It was a little newspaper in the “downtown” area of an even smaller town – but for me, it was my first real gig as a journalist.
Having just moved to a community where the closest Wal Mart was 30 minutes away and the only attraction was a barbeque pit and a sparkling man-made lake, I felt out-of-my-element and frankly, lost. To ease the idle time at age 15, I started reading the county newspaper and noticed a void of teen content. Tapping into my self-starter mentalities, I casually mentioned my observations to my mother who gleefully suggested I pitch to the editor of the newspaper.
Well who would write it? I asked. You, silly! She suggested. Hmm…
And so after some string-pulling and a four-hour shopping trip to buy my very first suit set (it was pink corduroy, sadly), I landed a meeting with the Editor-in-Chief of The Clay County Progress. Just tell her what you want to do. That’s all you have to do. And walk in these heels – don’t fall!! I said over-and-over while waiting in a “lobby” next to a water fountain, flipping through my “portfolio” which was really just a few pages of things I’d scribbled together and essays from school. I surely couldn’t bring in my diaries, though that’d be a more credible resume booster if I wanted to be a columnist.
When she finally called me in, I handed her my colorful binder (purple with letters cut out of magazine headlines that spelled: Lindsay’s Writing Portfolio) and proposed a weekly teen column that discussed the young adult perspective on everything from war to love. I continued to describe myself, making sure to throw in words like “hard-working” and “creative” like my father suggested. Don’t tuck your hair behind your ear, don’t do it. Just leave it. No, it’s not itching. Just leave it alone, Lindsay! I thought while clutching my fists under the table while she asked me questions. Smile, I encouraged myself. Maybe she likes you!
Twenty minutes and a trip to the bathroom later, I jumped into my mom’s car where she sat anxiously waiting: Well? she asked. I’m a columnist! I screamed. We went to get ice cream sundaes to celebrate and I reveled at the fact I’d get a whole $10 a week for writing. I could hardly believe someone was wiling me to do something I’d do for free and that I’d see my name in a newspaper that people actually paid money to read.
It was amazing – and I was hooked.
From there, I went on to co-lead the high school newspaper, intern for a local women’s magazine, then I brought that same ridiculously unprofessional portfolio to college where I started as an intern reporter and moved up to an Associate Editor. During my Appalachian State days, I managed to land an internship at Cosmopolitan (where my NYC love affair became undeniably serious) and wrote a blog for Seventeen.com. When I wasn’t promoted to Editor-in-Chief at the college newspaper, I was blessed to be offered an Editor-at-Large position at ChickSpeak.com, and it was there that I fell in love with the beautiful land of cyber-style writing. I love to hold my magazines and read them on the train, but my heart is intertwined with the web.
All of those experiences bought my one-way ticket to New York City (along with several restaurant and retail jobs) where I tried my skills out in the business writing world. And then of course, this lovely little blog deemed me a “Carrie Bradshaw”-like heroine in New York (though I could never afford her apartment or her shoes).
Lastly – and most amazingly – all of that hard work paid off this year when I landed the dream job. Nearly ten years (almost to the exact date!) have passed since I pitched my first column and now, I’m working, editing and writing for NBC. I never thought I’d be this remarkably happy at a job, but I am. I wish I could put into words how thankful I am, but no amount of gratitude could ever express it.
A year ago I wrote about what 2010 meant to me and what it represented. It was the year for New York, the year for many firsts, the year for great strides, big chances and slim paychecks. It was when I gained my city sense, when I tried out urban dating, when I started to become my own person, when I figured out (or rather solidified) that New York was definitely the place I wanted to live.
But 2011 has meant something different. It marked the end of a decade – ten years in the making of what’s made me, me.
It’s been about finding me in every aspect of my life. It was the year I decided I would be brave enough to fall in love, regardless of the outcome. It was the year I dedicated to writing – posting 1,000-word entries for nine months out of the 12. It was the year I met people I know will be my best friends when our boobs reach our knees. It was the year I learned how to survive on my own, completely cutting financial ties with my family. It was the year I went after the things I wanted, the things I came to New York to find. It was the year I let go of what was dependable and good to find the incredible and the great.
It was the year I got to where I wanted to be: a strong, independent 20-something, working at a place she loves, surrounded by friends who inspire her and doing the things that make her happy, with or without a man.
It seems impossible that so much time has passed or that I’ve already written so many articles and blogs that I’m more Google-able than I’d like my dates to know – but I’m proud of my work. I love that someone, somewhere has read something I’ve written and has learned something. Or felt less alone or less crazy. Or has been courageous enough to leave a relationship that wasn’t healthy to find hope for one that will be. Writing about love isn’t like being a journalist on the front lines or reporting on the latest political advances – but it has its own place and purpose in the world. And for now, it’s a place that I belong. It’s a purpose that I found a home in. It’s where I was always meant to be.
So thank you 2011 for changing me. For allowing me to make a lot of mistakes to get to where I am now. For teaching me how to love myself unconditionally, through jobs and breakups, love and a lot of luck.
I’m not the person I was in 2010 and thanks to 2011, I have a good feeling I’ll be one hell of a woman in 2012. Just wait and see.