Toss out titles, absorb information

By Jennifer Woods - Staff Columnist

Jennifer Woods

Jennifer Woods

Jennifer Woods | Record Herald photo

In the past several months my editor, along with a couple friends, have suggested I write a column as I tend to be passionate and highly opinionated—something that I strive not to show when working as a reporter at the Record-Herald.

Through my recent journey of learning self-care, I have come to realize that even though many of my views are quite different from those in this area, that it is okay to still discuss them. Without discussion, we cannot learn how to speak together about difficult topics.

The simple truth is—we all have our own views and we all won’t agree. In my job, I enjoy the challenge of phasing out my personal opinions and emotions in situations in order to give the proper voice to the people or entity for which I’m writing an article.

In my column, it will be a little different as this will be the space I will share opinions and thoughts. This column will have no particular theme, but I foresee it touching on various female-related topics, young-adult centered topics and mental health topics.

I’ve always believed it’s more important knowing the person who is informing or teaching you than the specific location where you are gaining the information. I am writing this column for the R-H and sharing it on my personal website however, who I am is a 25-year-old atheist, independent liberal (plus so much more).

Some ask me how I can be atheist. What does being independent in politics mean? Some scoff and some praise as soon as they see “liberal” without giving a chance to have a discussion. These all seem to be important categories for our identities and yet, it’s the “so much more” category that makes up a large amount of our lives and is just as, if not more, important.

For instance, I was born at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in 1994 even though my mother lived locally, because my father was a Marine. For the first couple years of my life my mother took care of me similar to a single mother.

Once my father was home routinely, my mother got to be a stay-at-home mom for awhile, in which time she had my sister and brother. She did end up going back to work as we lived paycheck-to-paycheck.

In 2017, my parents bought their first house with a USDA loan and I followed suit with my husband in 2018. I never imagined any of us having a mortgage and I still have mixed feelings on it.

My husband and I have lived paycheck-to-paycheck. I have worked in the healthcare field as a nurse aide and in child care. At one point, I held three part-time jobs while going to Southern State full-time. We’ve had to find housing in this county in recent years.

I am aware that the only reason we live paycheck-to-paycheck now is due to our financial choices such as two car loans, my school loans, our choices of employment, our desires to take part in activities that require some spending of money and staying in an impoverished area.

Just as I’m aware of why we live paycheck-to-paycheck, I’m also aware that there are many others living paycheck-to-paycheck for their own financial or family decisions and for reasons not of their choosing that have to survive with much less than us. For some, just having one car or even a valid driver’s license is a luxury especially in a place without public transportation.

I’m a first generation college student which isn’t uncommon in our area. Although I graduated within the top 10 of my class from Washington High School in 2013 and received a few local scholarships, I ended up not being able to go straight to a four-year university. We simply couldn’t cover the remaining cost nor did we have the credit at that time to get any kind of loan. Were there potentially other options at that time? Probably. Did we understand them? No.

I struggle with anxiety, suicidal thoughts and depression regularly which has been part of choices I’ve made to suddenly leave a job, take breaks from college, alter goals and distance myself from people. I’ve only recently reached out for help as I’ve been so used to dealing with it on my own since middle school. It’s important we get comfortable talking about these subjects.

Moving forward, these are only some of the topics I can touch on in this column to help my community that I grew up in to understand a little more of someone else’s world—because in the end, what better way is there to grow than to understand different ways of thinking and about different pathways others take?

My only hope is that the people of my community will be patient with me and will understand that I’m not here to attack any of your own beliefs or experiences but to simply share my own as well. I also hope that in sharing my experiences and thoughts, I may be able to help at least one other person who is struggling.

I welcome feed-back and respectful discussion. For topics pertaining to the column, I would prefer to be reached at, on my Facebook page, “Author Jennifer M Woods,” or through my website Follow the R-H weekly to be among the first to read the column.

Jennifer Woods Woods Jennifer Woods | Record Herald photo

By Jennifer Woods

Staff Columnist