I typically have an idea of how a column will go before I start writing – how I want to start and where I want to end up. However, I have no idea this time.
About four years ago, Lebanon Democrat editor Jared Felkins took a chance on a quiet, laid-back and raw Middle Tennessee State University student and gave him a chance to write for his hometown newspaper.
I’ll admit, everything I thought I knew about journalism – and life – have been challenged in the last four years. However, I wouldn’t change it for anything.
I’ve worked with some amazing people during my time at The Lebanon Democrat, and they all helped me during my time here, as well as some former employees. If you don’t get the chance to get to know my current cohorts – Jacob Smith, Sinclaire Sparkman, Andy Reed and Felkins – then you’re missing out, because they are truly amazing people and care deeply about their craft and this community.
I remember in one of my early columns, I said I wanted to leave the community better than I found it. I don’t know if I’ve accomplished that during my time at The Lebanon Democrat, but I’ve always tried to approached every story like it’s the most important thing in the world, because a lot of times, it was for my subjects.
Whether it’s a fundraiser for a sick child, information about a community gathering or opening of a new distillery, I’ve tried to treat those stories with the same intensity as I would a city council or county commission meeting.
And as much as I feel like I’ve given of myself to this community through my work at The Lebanon Democrat, I know it’s given me more in return. I wouldn’t be able to take this next venture in my life without The Lebanon Democrat and the countless number of people who have allowed me into their lives.
There are several people that I’ve had the pleasure to know professionally that I now consider friends. There are also several people who helped me become a better journalist and photographer, whether they knew so or not.
A coach once told me that if you feel regret after the final game, it’s because you didn’t give everything you had on the court. As I leave my position at The Lebanon Democrat, I don’t have any regrets. There are things I wish I would’ve done different, but I believe it all happened for a reason, and I’m thankful for every lesson I’ve learned.
I feel like I’ve grown in so many different ways during the last four years, and you all have played a part in that. From the letters of support and words of comforts during some hard times, I will never be able to thank you all enough, especially my Lebanon Democrat family.
I’m not going too far, and I will still strive to make this community better, just in a different form. So, it’s not a “goodbye,” but a simple, “I’ll see you later.”
Xavier Smith is a staff writer for The Democrat. Email him at [email protected] and follow him on Twitter @wilsonnewswritr.