My freshman year of college, I had a quote taped to the bookshelves on my desk. Blue sticky note, red pen. Just a scrawl, nothing fancy.

It said, “Remember that what you now have was once among the things you only hoped for.”

The summer after my sophomore year, I was in Indianapolis for SPJ leadership training. I was on a shuttle to the airport with a few of the professional chapter leaders, all “real” journalists. As someone who had never freelanced, never had an internship, never even written for her school paper, just making conversation with these people was intimidating.

The conversation slipped unassumingly from books to other leadership conferences we’d been to. One guy started telling a story about a two-week workshop he’d attended in college, one designed for editors at college newspapers.

One of the other attendees, a journalism professor who’d been making kind attempts to draw me into the conversation, turned to me. “You should think about doing that!” she said.

I flushed and shook my head. I’d never even mustered up the courage to apply to write for The Appalachian. The words slipped out before I realized how inappropriately personal they were – “I’m never going to be an editor.”

It’s September, over a year later, and I have this title after my name – Associate Editor for Editorial Content. And of course, I’m stressed. I worry that my staff won’t respect me, I worry that I won’t accomplish the things I want to accomplish, I worry that I’m forgetting a million things that need to be done.

But yesterday, for some reason, I remembered that conversation on an over-air-conditioned shuttle in Indiana. I realized that there was this thing I thought I’d never have, and I realized that now I have it.

That means so much more than the stress and the pressure, and right now, I’m just pausing for a moment to be grateful and surprised.

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