Maybe it’s the way I was raised.

Maybe it’s in my DNA — my long, ancient bloodline of caring genes. 

Maybe it’s because my first job was at Chick-fil-A, where I was trained everything needed to be my honest “pleasure” and I ran out in the pouring down rain to chase a car and deliver a man his extra Polynesian sauce we forgot to give him.

But whatever it is has always made me care too much. Those who know me know I have a heart the size of all the oceans combined, and sometimes that gets me into trouble. 

Caring can either be a good component of your character or a flaw. But I think — like anything else in life — caring too much is what you make it. 

 You can care too much for people and not receive that same care in return. It hurts, but it can force you to grow as a person. When you bend over backwards for a person time and time again and finally realize they won’t do the same for you, it can be really eye-opening. 

When something like that happens, you can either let it break you or choose to grow. My advice? Growing is always the best route to take. It may not seem like it at the time, but you’ll look back in due time and realize it’s true. 

You can care too much about a job or duty and therefore put stress on yourself that winds up hurting you physically and mentally. 

I care too much about my friends, family and job. I don’t see it as a flaw though.

With my loved ones, they know I’d do anything for them. The reason it’s OK is because I surround myself with people who also care too much about me. Anything I’d do for them, they’d do for me right back. I refuse to put myself in a circle of people who don’t love me with everything they have. What’s a relationship worth if you can’t 110% rely on the person? 

A big, big piece of my caring heart goes into this job here at the newspaper. Sure, sometimes the late nights add up and it gets to me a little bit. But 99.9% of my days, I couldn’t be happier to be sitting in this chair. Our newspaper has had its ups and downs but we’re an award-winning paper and I intend to keep it living up to that high standard. 

It’s about to be a brand new year and there’s no better time to set goals and crush them, and that’s what my team here at The Outlook will be doing. We’ll be starting some new projects and delivering you the news you truly care about. We’ll be telling you stories about all the unsung heroes in the community you should know; about all the important people who should be held accountable; and about everything else you need to know about this special little Lake Martin community.

We don’t come to work every day and do a job and go home. Journalists come to work every day with overly-caring hearts and pour them and our entire souls into what we do. 

This job ain’t easy, and it ain’t for everybody but it is for me. Our mission is to inform you and do it clearly and accurately. We want our paper to be one that picture-perfectly reflects the community you live in. We’ve got progress to make, sure, but doesn’t everyone?

What I’ve discovered is this paper — again, like anything else in life — will be what I make it. And I assure you, I have decided to make it the best thing you’ve ever read. It will take some time, but this team is working hard to produce a paper you truly care deeply about and don’t want to be without. 

Are there some unsung heroes you know whose stories should be told? We wanna know. 

Are there some issues in the community you feel need to be addressed? Hit me with it.

Do you know someone with a really unique, interesting story?

What about some good-hearted, caring folks who are doing something super special for others this Christmas?

We search high and low for these stories but we need your help too. Send me an email with your ideas. I’d love to hear from you and, I promise, I care — oh so much. 

Santana Wood is managing editor of TPI’s newspapers. She can be reached at santana.wood@alexcityoutlook.com