Thank you, Fort Mill, for 18 formative years

dwalker@fortmilltimes.comAugust 20, 2013 

I’ve been interested in journalism since middle school, and I was a huge “yerd” – yearbook nerd – in high school, but I had no idea what the journalism world was like until this past year.

I was blessed to intern at the Fort Mill Times during my senior year and into the summer, and as I departed for the University of Alabama Friday, I wanted to share some things that working at a newspaper has taught me about life.

First, I’ve learned that deadlines are real. High school ends. Papers go to press. Down payments are due. We cannot escape the inevitable. Some deadlines are positive; They keep us on track with our goals.

Some deadlines, more like endings, are harder to swallow. Going to school out-of-state has put a deadline on a lot of things I really love here. This includes some lifelong friendships that will never be rekindled and that isn’t something I look forward to confronting.

I’ve also learned that every town is full of beautiful people and stories. When Jenny Overman’s story about the homeless in our area inspired church and aid groups to serve the overlooked and underprivileged, I saw what power the written word could possess. I also saw the beauty of people here and their love for our community.

Third, I’ve learned that some things take a long time. I hope you all read Focus Magazine 2013, because I worked on it for six months. It was awful, but that experience prepared me for future events that are long and painful, like pregnancy, buying a house and waiting on McDonald’s to start deliveries.

I’ve learned that people are never nice on voting day and that training new interns can lead to conversations about “Breaking Bad” and Kendrick Lamar, and that this place has a lot of heart to offer its residents, and even more stomach.

As I fill my liquor boxes – for packing only, of course –with socks, CDs and my treasured gargoyle statue, I do have some regrets. If I share them with you, I hope you don’t let yourself make the same mistakes:

Don’t jump the gun on your future. Being prepared to leave is good, but making all of your friends miserable because you’re afraid of losing them is not the way to say goodbye.

Go outside. I know it’s hot, I know it’s humid, but there is nothing like a sky of Carolina blue.

Spend time with your family, even little siblings. Friends can be pushed away, but relatives are chained to you forever.

Also, I wish I had been more thankful and content with my life. It’s so easy to look at people in Tega Cay or the rich end of Doby’s Bridge Road and wish that you had all of their travels and brand-named clothes, but even being in the Fort Mill area is an opportunity most people don’t have.

Don’t let me get you down though; It’s not too late for any of us to have the farewells we want.

Most importantly, working at the Fort Mill Times has given me an outlet for my thoughts and interests. I have learned a little more about myself, as emotional and self-involved as I am.

I hope that you all get to learn from your experiences as much as I have. I know I’ll come back and visit, and some of us may never leave, but I’d like for us to all take a moment and remember things exactly as they are right now. Fort Mill will be here for a long time, but the present is only present once.

Thank you, Fort Mill, for a formative 18 years.

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