The Ottumwa Courier

August 20, 2013

Jumping off a mountain

Courier staff writer

---- — It's hard to believe tomorrow is my last day in Ottumwa.

As some know or have heard through the grapevine, I've accepted a position as a reporter for The World, a newspaper in Coos Bay, Ore.

Friday morning, my mom and I begin the 2,000-mile, 31-hour drive west in my little car. This is a big move and it's scary, but it's the right move.

I've watched everyone's eyes widen with shock when I tell them I'm moving so far away.

"Why?" they ask.

Why not? The best moments in life are when you jump into the unknown and challenge yourself to bust out of your comfort zone. Every time I've been scared to do something, doing it has made me a better person.

I jumped off a mountain during a study abroad trip to France, paragliding against a jagged mountain range and floating above pristine lakes outside my little town of Chambery. My fear of heights made me panic on the take-off and hit a tree, but it was worth it, even though my guide cussed me out in French the whole way down.

I spent a week with the U.S. Marine Corps last year in San Diego, learning the ins and outs of boot camp and gaining a new-found respect for our armed forces, especially after a drill instructor screamed at me: once for not positioning my feet correctly on the Yellow Footprints, the second time for my thighs not pressing right up against the stalls in the Contraband Room. Nothing gets your adrenaline pumping like a drill instructor coming out of nowhere, his frog voice bellowing in your ear.

Now, I'm off to Oregon, a place I've never been and where I know no one. I've lived in Iowa my entire life, and except for a couple trips to Europe and an internship in Kansas City, I've never left. But this is the time in my life (no significant other and no kids) when I can uproot everything. My mom did the same thing when she was my age — leaving Iowa for Arizona — and gained a wealth of life experience that has made her into the strong woman she is today.

I want to thank you, Ottumwa, for allowing me into your lives the last two years. I want to continue growing as a journalist, and I'm happy I chose The Ottumwa Courier to start my career. Now, it's time to tell another community's story.

Do the things that scare you. Jump off a mountain. Challenge yourself in your career. Move across the country. Those experiences will change you for the better. At the very least, they'll make a good story.