For those of you who don’t already know, this week is my last week at The Lebanon Democrat, which also means it’s my last chance to say goodbye.
I came here in May 2017 with the idea that I was going to get enough hours to satisfy my college’s internship requirements and no clue I would spend a year of my life here.
Now, here I am a year later about to leave Wilson County for a different job opportunity, and I couldn’t be more thankful for all of the experiences.
When I got my first story where I had to call someone for an interview, I was so nervous I had to go out to my car to make the call, because I didn’t want anyone else listening in on it. Former staff writer Jake Old had to give me pretty precise instructions on how to tell the person I was calling I was from the local newspaper and was interested in something they had done.
It was pretty intimidating stuff for someone from a small Christian school where I knew everyone I could potentially talk to for a story by name, hometown and blood type – OK, maybe not blood type, but it was definitely a close community.
Over time, Wilson County, which seemed practically as big as New York City to me when I first got here, started to look more like the small, close-knit community I now see it as.
It was slow going for me at first, but I slowly started to meet more and more people in Lebanon, Mt. Juliet and Watertown who welcomed me into the community and helped me out whenever I had any questions.
I think a lot of people see journalists as confident hard-hitting reporters who are never scared to ask the hard questions, but I’ll admit that when I first started I certainly didn’t feel like I fit that stereotype.
Of course, in the last year, I grew more confident in myself and was able to grow into a place where I felt more like the confident reporter I was trying to be and less like the fresh-out-of-college kid that I started as.
Honestly, it’s because of the nice people of Wilson County I was able to make that transition. I can’t think of an instance in the last year where someone tried to bully me out of asking a question, but I can say if someone had tried it when I was first starting out, I probably would have caved.
So thanks Wilson County. Thanks for opening your home to me and allowing me to grow as a person and as a reporter. I certainly appreciate it.
Thankfully I won’t be leaving the area for good as I still have grandparents who live in Lebanon, and I plan on making use of their lake house anytime I get the opportunity.
Jacob Smith is a staff writer for The Democrat. Email him at [email protected] and follow him on Twitter @wilsonnewsroom.