As of Wednesday, I'll no longer claim the job title "journalist." It's not a title I ever thought I'd carry, but my team at the Journal thought I was worthy of it and it's been a fun few years attaching it to my name. I'm going to a new job where I'll get to continue doing what I love most: Telling stories about Humboldt County. Suffice to say, yes, I'm excited and also sad as hell. Instead of worrying about how to give a good goodbye, I thought I'd spill a little ink on something that I've been thinking about for a while: You.
One of the things this job does is put you in regular contact with the highs and lows of everyday life in Humboldt County. There are no "dog bites man" days here when we scrape to find something to cover. With some of the state's highest rates of crime, addiction, public health concerns, road deaths and children in foster care, I often feel like I'm being run over by the news cycle. My Filing Cabinet of Sadness, as I call it, is full of stories I haven't had time to cover as completely as I'd like, stories about elder care and arson and failing infrastructure. The meetings I go to, the interviews I do, they're almost exclusively with people engaged in addressing these problems – cops and politicians, activists and volunteers, social workers, addiction counselors and foster parents – extraordinary people with extraordinarily hard jobs addressing our many, many social challenges. And don't get me wrong, I'm grateful for every day that I get paid to interview heroes and write about messes, but I almost never get to praise the people who quietly clean up their own side of the street before those messes ever happen. I'm talking about you. You're doing good.
If you woke up today feeling like the only way out was to die and chose not to, you're doing a good job. If you're a recovering addict or alcoholic who is doing what you have to do to stay sober, you're doing good. If you're a mom or a dad or a brother or a sister or a friend or a spouse of an addict or alcoholic and you're taking care of yourself, you're doing good. If you're putting one foot in front of the other, grinding away at a shitty job so you can keep your kids fed or your lights on, just trying to make it to a better day, you're doing good. If you asked for help even though it was hard and hurt your pride, you're doing good. I promise you there's something better on the other side.
If you thought about saying something cruel and beneath you on social media and resisted, you're doing a good job. If you're liberal and you found a way to talk to your conservative neighbor/relative about tough topics without making them feel dumb or alienated, you're doing good. If you're conservative and you found a way to talk to your liberal neighbor/relative about tough topics without making them feel dumb or alienated, you're doing good. If you're getting up today and doing what you believe is right without any promise of reward or success, just because you know that you couldn't live with yourself if you didn't give it everything you have, you're doing a good job.
If you're doing the hard job of taking care of your elderly parents or relative or friend or spouse, you're doing good. If you're raising your sons to respect women, you're doing a good job. If you're raising your daughters to believe in themselves, you're doing a good job. If you're raising kids who aren't afraid to tell you who they really are, you're doing a good job. If you're teaching your kids the value of integrity, the rewards of hard work, the importance of a society built on kindness, you're doing a good job. If you're raising someone else's kids with unconditional love, I can't tell you how proud I am of you. You're doing a good job.
Life as seen through social media and through reporting isn't really life – it's a highlight reel. Real life is made up of the small and boring and difficult choices that we make every day. More often than not, you make the right choice. That's why I love where I live. Thank you for being my reader, and my neighbor. I love doing good with you.
Linda Stansberry is a staff writer with the Journal. Reach her at 442-1400, extension 317, or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter @LCStansberry.