Jake Old: Saying goodbye to Wilson County

Jake Old • Updated Aug 3, 2017 at 1:00 PM

Friday is my last day here as a staff writer with The Lebanon Democrat. I’m leaving to attend law school in Nashville on a full time basis. 

It hasn’t been a secret, but I realized I had not yet shared the news with our readers, and with only a short time left on the job, there’s not much more time to share the news. 

Each week, I’m asked to write a personal column, which is this thing you are reading now, and it has always been the most difficult thing for me to write. This one is no different. I’m not good at writing about myself, so I usually wrote about music. 

I originally planned to write some version of this column when I made the decision to go to Belmont College of Law back in March, but every time I started on it, I would end up deleting it and finding another topic. There’s not any more putting it off, so here goes. 

Saying goodbye is never easy, especially when one is in a good situation already, as is the case for me here in Lebanon. 

The people of Wilson County welcomed me with open arms last year and have treated me well. Between the people I’ve met through my job and through being a member of the Lebanon Noon Rotary Club, I have come to know the best that this community has to offer, and my life is richer because of it. 

I’m grateful that my editor Jared Felkins trusted me to be the best person to fill this role here in Lebanon. I’m also confident the person he has chosen to be my successor, our former intern Jacob Smith, is more than prepared to pick up and do great things here. 

In previous drafts of this column I went into great detail about my decision to go to law school, but I have a hard time organizing all of those thoughts in a coherent manner, so I’ll spare some confusion by trying to condense those thoughts as much as possible.

Going to law school has always been a goal of mine, though it was put on the back burner when I found a love for journalism. It was something I thought about doing for a long time, and I always made excuses for why it wasn’t the right time. 

Eventually, I came to realize that, for me, it was a similar situation to people who wait for the right time to have children. If I kept waiting for the right time, I would be waiting forever. The right time to quit my job in an established career path and go back to school was never going to manifest; I had to have the self-confidence to dive headfirst and make this the right time. 

In my first experience as a professional, I worked as an intern at The Tennessean. There, Jessica Bliss, who was a reporter at the time but is now a columnist, took me under her wing and showed me what it meant to be a professional. What she taught me extends beyond simply being a reporter, whether or not she even realized she was doing it at the time. 

I’ll take those lessons with me throughout my career, wherever it goes, along with the many, many things I learned from others along the way, including here in Lebanon, and in my other journalism stops in Sevierville and Spring Hill. I owe tremendous thanks to Jared Felkins, Jeff Bryant, Jason Davis, Jeff Farrell, Curt Habraken and Kenneth Burns, all people who would continue to mentor me in the short few years of my journalism career. 

Lebanon has a terrific, award-winning daily newspaper in The Lebanon Democrat, and I’m proud to say that I was part of this company for at least a short time.

Jake Old is a staff writer for The Democrat. Email him at [email protected] and follow him on Twitter @wilsonnewsroom.

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