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That Time I Was a Newspaper Columnist...

Never give up. Never give in. Never become hostile... Hate is too big a burden to bear.

John Lewis

I’m an introvert. Not your run-of-the-mill introvert, but more of a probably-should-talk-to-someone type introvert. I prefer to be alone or surrounded by trusted friends, I don’t like crowds or speaking in groups. I think that's why I have always loved writing. Being an introvert doesn't mean I don't have strong opinions, it means I don't want to be in the limelight discussing my opinions. I'm passionate and intense and super-private, which means, although I'd love to share my innermost ideas, I don't trust most people enough to actually discuss them.

All of this introspection led me to writing an opinion column for the Charlotte (NC) Observer in the early 2000s. I was 24, I knew absolutely everything and the Observer gave me a platform to share my viewpoints with the whole world - or at least the Charlotte subscribers. I loved the process, I loved the reactions and most of all, I loved the anonymity that came from being a private figure with a public forum. I thought I could change the world with my words, I thought I could challenge society with my editorials, I thought I could make a difference from behind my little desk.

Fast forward almost 20 years later…I’m not young anymore. I’m not as sure of myself as I was back then. Life has a way of shaking that off of you as you learn. In any event, as I re-read those articles, I’m a little embarrassed – but mostly proud. I’m embarrassed that I thought my little column would shake up the world – youth makes you idealistic and slightly delusional. I’m proud because – I was right. But not about shaking up the world, not exactly.

I received an email last week at the address I had 20 years ago. (You still have yours too, right)? The woman who emailed me told me that her mother had passed away and as she was going through her mother’s belongings, she found an article that I had written more than a decade before. She told me that her mother had treasured my words, and that maybe I should share the article again. And with that, I’m convinced. I’m not convinced that I’ll always get it right or that my words alone will make a difference. But I’m completely convinced that my voice makes a difference. Whatever I can say, and then – whatever I can do, will make a difference.

And so, periodically, I’ll share those old columns. I hope you’ll laugh (or cringe) at the hopeful, bold, naive, slightly arrogant young woman that I was. And maybe you’ll find that your words make a difference. You don’t have to be right all the time, you don’t need to be perfect – you have to use your voice and do your best. And be kind. You can be strong, you can be powerful, you can be heard – and you can be kind.


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