After three and a half years with the Herald Democrat, this week I had to write perhaps the hardest piece of all: my two weeks notice.


Soon I’ll be taking on a new job as the editor of a DFW Metroplex paper, but this column isn’t about that. It’s about my time at this newspaper and an attempt to say everything I want to, before I go.


In the summer of 2016, it was nearing the end of my second year with a law firm in downtown Dallas. It was a great first job fresh out of college. I liked my coworkers, was paid well and had an office on the 22nd floor with sweeping views of the city skyline. But, I spent my days largely alone and locked away in a room with nothing but shelves full of files and the inescapable realization that I was wasting my time, my journalism degree and my skills.


That August, I took a chance and applied for a reporter position with the Herald Democrat. I was brought in for an interview and after telling my future editors that I fully expected to make less money and work longer hours, I got the job: my first journalism job.


That first day was a whirlwind, and my first assignment was a mundane school board meeting, but I agonized over it for hours. The early months were filled with endless introductions and new faces — lots of questions, lots of mistakes, and lots of looking like a newbie. But with the support of my new coworkers and the belief that the work was worthwhile, I got through it.


At times, I’ve really hated this job for the things that it made me do: miss out on holidays with friends and family, slog it out in hours-long meetings, request comment from people on their lowest day of life, watch as broken bodies were pulled from crashed cars and burning buildings, see the horrible and inhumane things we do to each other and abandon passion projects for the sake of daily deadlines.


But beyond all that, I’ve loved this job for everything it’s given me: a sense of purpose and fairness, a connection to the community, incredible coworkers, a voice and self-confidence, determination and humility, opportunities to learn, new places to explore and new challenges to tackle, the chance to earn someone’s trust and to share their story, respect for others and most importantly, all the relationships I was able to build with truly remarkable people.


And to that point, I hope the members of this community see everything this publication has given to them and will continue to give them: knowledge, new perspectives, a platform to speak and to share, an unbiased look at the facts and the best damn newsroom around.


There isn’t enough time, and there aren’t enough column inches in the world for me to thank everyone who deserves it. But, I’d like to try. So, thank you to everyone who I met along the way, everyone who shared their time, their experiences and their lives with me. Thanks to everyone who took my calls and dodged my calls, to everyone who complimented and criticized my work and thank you to everyone who read my articles and trusted me to share the news that mattered.


You made me a better journalist and a better person. And for that, I’ll always be grateful.


There are so many people I’d love to see and speak with before I go. If you’d like talk one last time or stay in touch, please send me an email before March 6 at ASmith@HeraldDemocrat.com.