To say that 2018 was a roller coaster would be an understatement. It can be appropriately described by the phrase “It was the best of times. It was the worst of times,” which is one I never truly understood until this year.
I started 2018 off with an abundance of optimism. I had been a college graduate for 6 months, and I was using my newfound freedom from school to work as a freelance journalist. I was living in my own apartment with no roommates for the first time, and I was in the process of perfecting my in-home video studio.
I was writing news stories daily, working with the greatest journalists in alternative media, and the short, rant-style videos I posted online were taking off, with multiple videos exceeding 1 million views on Facebook in 2017. To say that I was excited about how my career and my life were shaping up was an understatement. Then 2018 happened.
I don’t talk about my personal life much on the internet—because it’s the internet and some of you people are just plain cruel. But I will say that 2018 was a devastating year for my family. I come from a small family, and I have always thought of us as a tight group of which I am very protective. However, this year I was reminded that even the people who are closest to you have the freedom to walk out of your life and to hurt you and others you love in ways you cannot imagine.
I also learned firsthand that the family court system can be a cruel and heartless instrument that has an astounding level of bias. My heart goes out to all of the children who have been traumatized and parents who have been harmed as a result of family court decisions. The system is broken in a way I never fully understood until this year.
In addition to the chaos that was out of my control, Facebook began a devastating take-down of alternative media that impacted me, along with my closest colleagues exactly where it hurt. It started out slowly with the individual views on videos and post-reach on links decreasing significantly. Suddenly, it didn’t matter if a page had 3 million fans—the traffic to its website disappeared and the ad revenue went with it.
There were some low moments this year—moments when it felt like I was surrounded by “the worst of times,” and that was all there was. The intentional targeting of major social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter became even more apparent in October when the sites purged hundreds of pages.
My page with nearly 70,000 followers was deleted by Facebook with no explanation and no response to my attempts to appeal the decision. I won’t get into all of the details here, but I will say that judging by the fact that Facebook took down all of the major independent media and police accountability pages, it became painfully clear that anything that qualified as a “dissenting voice” was a target.
I started my work as a journalist 4 years ago when I was a freshman in college. Ever since then I had worked independently, and there was a lot of pride attached to that. I knew I didn’t want to work for the mainstream media and thus far, I had sustained myself through freelance work with alternative news outlets. However, when Facebook started its war on pages that questioned the establishment, it took away vital ad revenue and left a number of independent journalists searching for ways to get by.
I accepted the offer to sign with a network in August, which was the biggest decision of both my career and my life up to this point. I packed up everything I owned, said goodbye to Texas, and flew to Washington D.C. with two suitcases and a book bag to my name. To say that I was nervous was an understatement, but the decision turned out to be the biggest blessing in ways I could never have imagined.
At the beginning of 2018, I wanted it to be the year of “Go Big or Go Home,” and my move to D.C. exemplified that mentality by pushing me right out of my comfort zone in every way possible. And somehow, all of the hard work and the strife and the tears and the late nights and the extra effort paid off.
This year has not been ideal in any sense of the word, and there are still moments from it that make my heart ache when I look back on them. But I have the privilege of ending the year with the love and support of my family (even if they are a few thousand miles away in Texas), with an incredible job that challenges me daily, with an office of ridiculously talented and equally entertaining coworkers who keep life interesting on the daily, and with a new set of friends that I could only have made by making the move to D.C.
Most importantly, I am going into 2019 with a sense of eagerness and optimism. Because even though 2018 presented some of the hardest challenges of my life, it also included some of the most incredible blessings. And sometimes you have to go through the dark and painful moments in life to remind yourself that you can and you will get survive.
I hope that wherever you are, and whatever stage of life you are in, you continue to pursue your dreams and your passions in the new year—and as cliché as it sounds, I hope that 2019 is your best year yet.