I tried to write an introductory column my first day at the Daily World, but by 11 p.m., all I had written was “I am struck with writer’s block” and nothing else. I am now four days into my career, and there are times when I feel unnerved by how quickly I’ve acclimated to my new normal--covering meetings, writing the story within the next couple hours, and chatting with my new co-workers as if I hadn’t been deep in identity crisis only a week before after graduating from the journalism program at Indiana State University.
There were so many milestones and celebrations in the last semester of college. I married my husband Kegan on my birthday, April 9, after being engaged for four years. The planning that went into that was an event in itself. Weeks later, on May 13, I walked across the stage of the Hulman Center to receive my diploma. I shook hands, smiled for pictures, and hugged some of my classmates for the last time. I remember my wedding--my graduation was a blur of faces.
The week before graduation, we held our last SPJ meeting of the year. It doubled as a farewell party for a journalism professor whose job was ensnared in a university-wide money-saving measure. Our professor, Terry Nelson, learned what had happened one day chatting with the interim chair. She never imagined that she would fall in love with Terre Haute as a part-time lecturer, she said, but she wondered aloud now about buying a little house--a fixer-upper--and getting settled in. The way Nelson tells the story, the chair’s face dropped. “Terry... don’t buy a house.”
After months of petitioning and efforts from the department to keep Terry’s job, the eleventh hour fell and we had to say our goodbyes. My year so far has been filled with beginnings, but it has also been filled with unfair endings. There was so much change happening at once, that I wasn’t sure how I should feel, or whether I could, or for whom. We left for our honeymoon the day of graduation. It was a happy occasion, but I was acutely aware that I now had a degree, no job prospects, one of my favorite professors leaving forever, and the small group of professors and coworkers at Indiana State University who grew to become my foundation would be an hour away. I drove from Linton to Terre Haute for classes and my student job, and now, I was no longer a student or employee. People say they’ll keep in touch, but I realized I would be seeing my support system a lot less often. In the confusion, I never had a chance to thank the people I owed my graduation to: Nelson, who kicked my butt and made me better for it; Dr. Lori Henson, my adviser in classes and life; and Libby Roerig, Director of Communications and Media Relations, who bakes like an angel and has the patience of one.
I spent the next month wondering what my capacity for change was--there were days when I felt mad at the world, there were good days because there are always good days, but on the worst days I felt nothing. When you feel nothing, you want nothing, and when you want nothing, you just stop. I realize that what I’ve said makes zero sense, so in an odd way, I’ve described it perfectly.
For the past two years, after switching my major from Marketing to Communications, I received full indoctrination. A large part of being a journalism major is “buying in” to the purpose of journalism--to defend the First Amendment, to shed light on dark places, comforting the afflicted and afflicting the comfortable. These are my professional values as well as my personal values, and I expect to struggle with them constantly. So when a professor who has done all these thing, who has repeatedly put the rights of high school journalists before her own job, who has been presidentially acknowledged for her contributions to journalism, can suddenly find herself in the same situation I was in seemed deeply unjust and there was nothing we could do to correct it. So when I received the call from Sabrina that I would be joining the Daily World, I struggled even more.
Wednesday evening, I pulled up Facebook and saw a picture of a beautiful blue house. The post received nearly 500 “hearts”, including mine.
“I have good news to share today,” Nelson wrote. “I have been offered a three-year instructor position to continue teaching journalism at Indiana State University in Terre Haute and I just rented the downstairs of this 1910 historic home on 6th street beginning August 1. I’m back!”
At that moment, I knew what I wanted to say. Change is a constant. The ability to feel such immense joy when things go right, and the pain you feel when things go wrong, is the greatest privileges of being human. We value this and resent it. Bad things happen to good people, and bad deeds go unpunished, and there is seldom rhyme or reason. But sometimes, for a perfect moment, things are exactly as they should be. It would be naive of me to expect that all the days ahead of me at the Daily World will be easy--but I am excited about what the future holds at my new home.
Kristen Inman is a staff writer at the Greene County Daily World. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.