By Melissa Engle, a senior journalism major from Eubank.
As I sit here and attempt to crank out my last “My Turn,” I am torn with what I want to say. I want to know tshat I somehow was able to make a difference in my reader’s lives, even for a brief moment, and so I will share my own experience in hopes of finding some “take away” value.
I am from Eubank, Ky., and I must say this town is a wonderful place to be from.
It consists of a caution light, a couple of mom-and-pop grocery stores and about 10 churches.
We have a population of a little more than 500. I am proud to tell people I grew up in the country, the place where I would sleep with the window open and listen to the crickets chirping on a warm summer’s night.
These are my roots. They are strong. They are deep. And they are mine.
Having said that, I am also from a family of blue-collared, middle-class, down-to-earth “good” people, none of who ever went to college.
They never had to – they made other choices and have been successful.
Among my 22 aunts and uncles, two parents and two step-parents, you would think that one of those would have gone to college, but that never happened.
When I was in high school I wondered why, and now having a few years on me, I know. I realize people are different. They have different priorities and different plans for their lives.
Just because they are different, doesn’t mean they are wrong.
Just because I chose an unprecedented path, did not mean I was wrong either.
Either way, I am the first – and I hope not the last – person in my family to go to college. This is a huge deal in my family now. It has not always been that way.
I have met my fair share of adversity along the way, but in the end I made the decision to keep pushing toward completion. I am happy and I graduate in fewer than two months.
While my friends were in Las Vegas gambling their money away or in Panama City drinking their money away, I once again chose another path. I decided to spend my spring break in the Carolinas undergoing the stresses of job interviews for three days.
I was afraid from the beginning. Here I was, this small town girl maneuvering bigger cities and persuading bigger newspapers that I was the person they needed to hire.
I was intimidated by just walking through the front doors of the bigger newspaper thinking I deserved a job there, especially with my portfolio – the one of a beginner.
But in the end, while I was intimidated, I know I did the right thing. And sometimes the right thing is not the easiest thing.
Sometimes it is getting out of my comfort zone and taking risks.
And I learned that about myself, that I can step outside my comfort zone and still be OK; and my ability to do so is probably what will take me places.
I am reminded of what Mark Twain once said. He said, “Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines.
Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.”
I only hope I can continue taking that leap of faith in pursuit of my dreams and continue taking the unbeaten path.
It is often not easy to stand on your own two feet and believe in yourself, especially when you are starting out.
I have been fortunate to have a good support system to guide me along the way.
But at the end of the day I know I am making my own way. I can either sit back and watch the world go by or I can get out there and make a place for myself in it. It is my choice.
When I am in situations like I was this past week, when I am afraid, I just remember what a very close friend of mine told me.
The advice is, “Be brave. Have the confidence I know you have. And do your best.”
That is what I would like to relay on to my readers.
Just because you come from a small town, that’s lucky to even have a post office, does not mean you are destined for small things.
You simply have to believe in yourself, seek out positive people to surround yourself with, do your best, and most of all – be brave.
Close your eyes. Step out into the great big world. And go for it. I did it and I am still here – happy, hopeful and humble.