Moving On From The Palmetto State

Photos by Jie Jenny Zou

Not everything works out the way you hope it does.

That’s something I’ve been telling myself the moment I stepped foot in South Carolina and found things not quite working out the way I’d planned.

From last-minute cancellations and delays, a series of apartments, and then problems at work–the trials and tribulations of your first professional full-time job/life are roadblocks that no internship or career service guide can adequately prepare you for.

There’s something to be said about rolling with the punches and adjusting to your environment–that’s just a fact of life and a huge part of what I think determines success in journalism. But sometimes you really need to take a step back and ask yourself what all of it is for and see if staying is something that will ultimately take you to where you want to be next.

For me, moving down south was something I did on a whim–a decision I made within two weeks and largely on the advice of someone else that I didn’t know very well, but was well respected in the industry.

It was an opportunity to try something different from the national outlets I had previously interned for and away from the big cities I was used to. I was also coming up on loan repayments and a stable job with health benefits seemed like the right way to go for an anxious person like myself who was now saddled with thousands of dollars in student debt after a 10-month grad program.

I think I’ve learned a lot in the short time I’ve been here and encountered stories that I never would have even known about if I stayed within the familiar confines of New York City. I also met some of the most interesting political characters in my life.

You haven’t really seen local politics in action until you’ve attended a run-of-the-mill public meeting that turns into a squabble fest, or unearthed a unique story that brings you to the doorstep of an ‘average’ citizen. Some of my most colorful reporting experiences thus far have been in rural areas like this one, where people talk straight from their gut and each issue seems to have its own long-winded history behind it waiting for someone to poke at it.

Things don’t always quite work out the way you expect them to, and sometimes that’s the whole point.