It’s Nov. 2 and that means — well, in my world anyway — it’s practically Thanksgiving and Christmas has basically arrived. I’m already ready for my Christmas tree and all the pine-scented candles. Let’s break out the Buffalo plaid and go ahead and stock up on wrapping paper. It’s time for the pumpkins to get outta Dodge. The Thanksgiving menu must be planned. Christmas wish lists must be made. 

Aside from all the festivities this season brings, this time of year has me thinking just how lucky I am.

For starters, I’m 24 and I have a successful career with a direct path and plan for the future. Not everybody can say that.

I’ve accomplished a lot to be only 24 — 25 in December, y’all, hallelujah! Lord, I can’t wait to be able to say I’m in my mid-20s. I’m not in a hurry to get older by any means but it can be irritating when people don’t take me seriously because I’m a 20-something and even worse when they ask me if I’m still in high school. I keep telling folks I’m gonna look dang good when I’m actually aging. Y’all won’t be laughing at my baby face then.

I struggle sometimes with comparing myself to others, and I think we all do a little bit of that no matter how old we are or where we are in life. 

My generation is getting married and having babies out the wazoo, or so it seems. It’s a weird feeling for me because I’ve been engaged before — didn’t work out — and at the time, I was the first one of my friends to be at that stage in life. 

Now here I am, only 24 measly ole years old — despite feeling at least 45 — and I feel ancient and decrepit because I’m not married with three children. 

Isn’t that funny? I know I have many years of life ahead of me and plenty of time for those things, but in life it’s so easy to compare our journeys with everyone else’s and somehow feel inadequate. 

However, I’m proud of myself and where I’m at in life. Sure, my life plan isn’t what it was at 20 years old, but is anyone’s? I’m 24 and I’m the editor of a handful of newspapers. I mean, hello? I have a name plate on my desk that says “girl boss” and that’s exactly what I am; I’m a young female out here getting it done day in and day out not letting anybody get me down.

One day a couple weeks ago, a man walked in the office and asked to speak to “the person in charge.” I walked out of my office and said, “Hey there, how can I help ya?”

The man jumped a bit — startled — and said, “I was expecting a big, tall man. How’d you get so much power?”

I laughed it off but at first I was offended just a hair; come on now, women — and those of us in our 20s — can be successful too. But I’ve since had a meeting with the man about a story and I realized he didn’t mean any offense and thinks it’s great how far I’ve come in my career in such a short time. He’s a nice fella; I think he and I both learned not to judge a quick first impression as a person’s true character or abilities. 

Just because my life may be traveling on a different railroad track than my peers’ lives doesn’t mean I’m going the wrong direction. There isn’t really a right track or a wrong track. 

People can be on different tracks and can be successful in different areas of life. Some people have priorities for different things; others’ timing is different. That’s OK.

Getting married and having children isn’t my idea of success but it’s definitely something I want one day. I was raised in a home where family is all you’ve got and I want that.

I’ve always been a workhorse and someone who is career-minded. My path in life has always consisted of goals to get me where I want to be in my career. 

The rest will figure itself out as it comes. I can only be in control of so much in my life and right now, I’m content where I’m at.

I’m thankful to have a wonderful boyfriend who truly cares for me — the real, genuine, unfiltered, ratty T-shirt, messy bun, morning breath me. Even though everybody always asks, “When are you getting married?” I am in no rush. We’re great where we’re at right now and it’ll happen when it’s supposed to; that’s how life goes.

I’m thankful for my job — one I love. Not everybody enjoys what they do. Sometimes the workload is a lot; some days I’m at the office far too long. But it’s because I care. I’m in a career that means something. I’m not punching a clock and getting a check; I’m here because I care about getting the news out to my community each day. What I’m doing is bigger than me, and that’s important.

I’m thankful for a great family that never leads me astray, is always there and never fails me. 

I’m thankful for my health. I’ve had a rough go at it and some days are worse than others, but I’m on a consistent treatment plan that helps and I have a great support system. 

Ultimately, I’m thankful for this path I’m on. Maybe it wasn’t the one I originally put in the GPS, but life’s a lot more fun when you take the dirt road instead of the highway.


Santana Wood is managing editor of Tallapoosa Publishers’ newspapers. She can be reached at

Santana Wood is the managing editor of The Outlook.