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I’ve always been terrible at saying goodbye. It must be some kind of Midwestern thing, where we all stand by the door, drawing out the conversation until we can no longer postpone the inevitable.

Goodbyes are just too sad. It’s a little easier when you know it’s more “See you later” than “Goodbye forever.” But either way, I think life would be much simpler if we had a world without goodbyes.

I wanted to thank all of you who reached out to me last week and shared your well wishes and what you enjoyed most about my Friday content.

A lot of you were “recipe readers,” who picked up the section every week just to try my latest concoction. Others tuned in to see what was going on with my wedding planning or the orneriness of our dog, Winston. Some wanted to hear about my travels and local events. No matter why you read my section, I’m so happy I got the chance to share with you.

As a journalist, we spend so much time writing about other people. It has been a unique and insightful experience to write about myself and share my thoughts with so many people that I’ll never actually meet in person.

Although I found column writing to be very cathartic, my greatest joy has always been getting to share the stories of others.

I get asked all the time what my favorite thing about working in journalism is and it is by far the people. There are so many interesting people living right next to you, shopping with you at Kroger and on the treadmill next to you at the YMCA. All you have to do is talk to them.

Growing up, I was as bashful as they come. I rarely made eye contact with people and developed into a socially awkward teenager. Never in my wildest dreams did I think that I would talk to people for a living.

The ability to talk to people is becoming a lost art. It started with my generation and it’s only more prevalent in today’s technological landscape. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with texting, emails or emojis — but they are not a replacement for actual human interaction.

I feel like if I never got over my fear of being weird or wrong while talking to others, I would have missed out on meeting so many great people. When I look back on my life, it is not just my own experiences that stand out to me — it’s my shared experience with others.

And I know this is an oddly philosophical way to write my last column for the Kokomo Tribune, but I think the point I’m trying to make here is this: I am not the keeper of the keys. Everyone has a key — it’s just up to you to use it. Everyone has a story to tell and everyone has the ability to be a storyteller.

All you have to do is listen, learn and love.

Haley Cawthon can be reached at haley.church@kokomotribune.com or on Twitter @HaleyCawthon.

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