By Emily Erickson
Well, Sandpoint, it is officially the end of the year. And that means it is time to reflect on the 365 days behind us, to enjoy the last few sugar cookies before we fearfully return to pants that don’t have elastic around the middle, and to surround ourselves with the people and things that make us feel at home. And truthfully, we do have to hand it to the holiday season to bring out a special kind of thankfulness for all the gifts we’ve been given throughout the entirety of the year; both the tangible and the metaphorical.
So, maybe it’s the post-cookie sugar buzz or my still-warm belly from those nips of holiday brandy, but I’m feeling extra sentimental as I think about the tremendous gift you all have given to me over the past year.
Sandpoint, you’ve made me a writer. And I couldn’t be more grateful.
I moved to North Idaho for the mountains and lake and with the intention of only making choices that would lead me closer to what I considered my ideal life. And although I didn’t know the specifics of what that life would be, I knew the important pieces.
My ideal life included having the flexibility to participate in the things that make me feel alive, as frequently as possible. It involved pursuing creative endeavors and prioritizing experiences over things. And, honestly, it consisted of a life out from behind a day and desk job, where I knew I didn’t thrive.
I rolled into town, determined to make my new way, obtaining a bartending job to sustain myself while I figured out the rest. And, as expected when you move to a new town, especially one across the country, I got swept up in the excitement of it all.
After spending months discovering hidden waterfalls, bagging mountain peaks, and meeting as many new people as I could, I reached a point where I realized the adventuring was only a piece of the puzzle that was my new life. There was more to my story, and I felt I had more to offer than what I was currently giving.
Digging into the trenches of my perceived skills, I searched for anything that could potentially produce income, while still checking the boxes on the life for which I aspired.
“Well, I’m a good communicator and can be organized when I need to be. I suppose I could be a virtual assistant?” “Wait, that sounds f***ing awful.”
“Um, I enjoy making awkward greeting cards . . . I could sell those?” “Emily, we’re talking income.”
“Well, I always have had a lot to say, and my favorite part of college was writing papers, so . . . there’s always writing.” “People make money writing, right?”
And so, I tried it. I wrote a few mock articles, “Why Wisconsin is the Best Place to Grow Up,” and “Millennials: Not Just the Lazy Basement Dwellers We’re Made out to be,” and submitted them to the Reader.
After a few emails exchanged and a meeting with the Reader staff, I became Emily Articulated, the voice of the Millennials within the community, and the real magic started happening. This magic was not in the words I was writing for everyone else to read, but in the words I started to use to define myself and the words I used to describe the world.
Once I began understanding myself as a writer, every person I met became a story; a succession of profound and interesting choices that could be portrayed in the correct string of words and through evoking a specific set of emotions.
With each passing article, my confidence as a writer grew, the more opportunities within the writing field I pursued, and the semblance of a career in writing began forming.
But, me starting to make it as a professional is not the best part of this story. The best part of this story is that I couldn’t have done it without all of you. With every email or letter of affirmation, with every, “Hey, you’re the girl that writes for the Reader,” and with the, “I didn’t agree with your thoughts on selfies, but I appreciated your article about nature,” I was sustained, and I was pushed.
So thank you, Sandpoint, for your life-changing gift; for helping me get a little closer to who I want to be, and for letting me share bits of that journey with you.
Your grateful neighborhood cheesehead,
While we have you ...
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