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'I Survived Ritzville, I Can Survive This'

Failure and the Road Ahead

Note: This post contains mentions of suicidal behavior, imposter syndrome and other potential triggers.

I recently celebrated my 34th birthday. It wasn’t the most exciting in terms of past birthdays, but it was fine with me. A few beers with my coworker, playing video games and catching up on some anime and podcasts.

My birthday wasn't the only mild milestone I had accomplished. I was also celebrating my second month of working at NCW Media. My spring sports previews were sent off to the editor. Life was good.

Yes a few months ago, I was in a different boat.

I recently read a thread from Jack Edathil, a.k.a. Travancore on Dungeon Drunks, where he shared his biggest failure. Jack explained that while we spend so much time talking about our successes, we learn more about ourselves from our failures. I won't go into what he wrote, but I will leave a link at the bottom.

Before I landed at NCW Media, I worked for CFP, located in Cheney, for almost five years.

In July 2017, I was offered the chance to transfer to a new office in Ritzville, a city in Adams County. Rather than make a 40-minute back-and-forth commute, I decided to move to the small town.

My 13 months in Ritzville was the worst time in my life. I made good money and the job was okay, but I became increasingly unhappy.

Part of my unhappiness stemmed from the environment I lived in. I had maybe two to three people who I could really call “friends.”

My boss said it best when she said Ritzville wasn’t a good fit for me, and she was right.

I made sure to take trips back home and see my friends and that helped for awhile. I also started getting back into Dungeons and Dragons and listening to shows like Critical Role, Dungeon Drunks, Taking Initiative and D20 Dames—all of which brought some light into my life.

But the negativity in my personal life continued to clump together and it affected my professional life. I started getting panic attacks at home and at work. I developed imposter syndrome—which I didn’t know I was a real thing—and I stopped caring about my job and my life. I was at a point where I started to get suicidal thoughts. I didn’t have anyone local I could turn to, except my boss but I didn’t want to burden her with my problems.

I was praying more and more, and God was telling me I needed to leave Ritzville.

One day, my boss announced she would be leaving the newspaper. After more prodding from God, I turned in my own resignation letter.

At the end of September, I left both Ritzville and journalism with no real path. I wasn’t scared as I probably should have been at the time. I remember an interview with Critical Role's Taliesin Jaffe where he spoke of his breakdown and how surviving that experience has prepared him for future challenges.

Whenever I face a challenge, I say to myself, “I survived Ritzville, I can survive this.”

I have a laundry list of lessons that I’m beginning to realize I needed to learn.

I had to learn that I can’t rely on others for validation and that I need to believe in myself. I also learned that there are some circles you don’t belong in and aren’t for you—and that’s okay.

Another lesson was that I should not tolerate negativity in my life, even if it’s for the sake of someone else. I should also reach out to others when I need help, and not just let everything bottle up inside.

I need do to a better job in meeting new people, and taking better care of myself. My boss tried to tell me this in the first few months I was there, but I didn’t listen.

After Ritzville, I moved back home with my mom and her fiancé and began looking for a job. I worked at local security company at the airport that lasted two months—another negative environment but this time I learned to leave quickly.

Five days after I quit the security job, I found an opening for a sports writer position at NCW Media and I knew this is the path God wanted to me to follow. I sent my clips and resume and the owner of the company responded within eight hours.

Once again I rolled the dice, packed up my belongings and moved to East Wenatchee. I found an apartment to stay and have spent the last two months in this new life.

After a week at NCW Media, I realized I made the right decision in getting my journalism and writing career back on track, and I am doing some of the best work of my career.

Going forward, I just need to tell myself, “I survived Ritzville, I can survive this.” 

Read next: Living with OCD
Al Stover
Al Stover

I am a reporter at a weekly newspaper in Ritzville Washington. When I'm not running around the office, I play video games, write fantasy fiction and listening to podcasts. 

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