Posted on 2/2/14

TAYLOR hORSE1OWENSBORO, Ky. (8/22/13) -- I have experienced a lot of huge ‘firsts’ lately.
It’s my first time living anywhere other than Central Kentucky. I grew up in a small town, Lawrenceburg (you might have heard of it if you’re a bourbon fan, we are home to Wild Turkey), for 18 years of my life. I lived in Lexington for four years while I attended the University of Kentucky (these were the best four years of my life- Go Cats!) Two months ago, I relocated to western Kentucky for my first reporter’s position. I have always felt like I was a big fish in a small pond, and I always thought that I would move away from home--just not this quickly.
Before I accepted the position, I was enjoying life after graduation, lying out at the pool every day, working my retail job, and hanging out with my friends. Then I got a job and everything changed. Suddenly, I was 200 miles away with no friends or family, living in a small, one-bedroom apartment. I was so scared at first; it was my first time living alone, first time being away from everyone I loved, and my first real job. I would probably say that I’ve always been somewhat scared – scared of talking to new people, new experiences, and scared of becoming an adult.
I was painfully shy growing up. College helped. I joined a sorority and you learn quickly that social interaction is a big deal with as many as 250 girls in one house at a time. I really felt like I could talk to anyone coming out of that experience, but I was wrong. As a reporter, I am talking to people all day – city commissioners, police officers, firefighters, the mayor, and even just a regular girl with a unique story. I was intimidated at first. Would these people ever trust me enough to tell their stories? The answer is, yes. When I learned that I had to be confident in my abilities and to go into every interview with a go-getting attitude to get the story, I was as good as gold. Learning to be brave and do something that you wouldn’t normally do makes all the difference in the long run.
Last week, for example, I had a pretty cool experience when I interviewed the owners of Dream Riders, an organization devoted to teaching horse riding lessons to disabled kids and adults. Learning about the organization was pretty great within itself, but what I didn’t know going into the interview that day is that I would face one of my fears head-on. I had never ridden a horse in the two decades I lived in Kentucky (blasphemy right?), so I thought that I would try it. In my mind, I thought I was going to jump on that horse and become this blue-ribbon championship rider, but turned out it was more an embarrassment than an accomplishment. I would never say that I am an animal lover, I don’t hate them, but I’m mostly just terrified of anything that runs faster than me (pretty much every animal in existence). Horses were no different. One of the volunteers helped me up on the horse and when I realized that I was a good couple feet higher off the ground than normal, I became super anxious. I began to have flashbacks of the second grade when my dance teacher told me that my classmate, Monica, wouldn’t be returning to ballet because she got bucked off a horse and broke her collar bone. I knew that if anything bad could happen, it would – it was just my luck. Well, I guess luck was on my side that day, I didn’t get thrown off my horse, but I also didn’t really get to ride, either. I was pulled mostly. I just couldn’t get the hang of it (this may be because I was wearing sandals to the equestrian center--I never dress appropriately). The bottom line is, though, I tried it. I was scared, but I faced my fears.
I’m trying this new facing my fears thing and I have to say, it’s working in my favor. I’m doing things I once was scared of doing, but I’m still pretty terrified of everything. I still hear what I think are knocks at my door in the middle of the night (you become really paranoid living alone). For a week, I thought there was something living underneath my bed (thanks to my sister, I realized that box springs can move--who knew?). I’m still living each day in hopes for two hour phone calls from my best friends or my mom. I’m even traveling 200 miles (even a couple of weekends in a row) just to wake up to my parents cooking me breakfast in the morning and my clothes being washed. Even still being dependent on my family in some aspects, I still have learned a lot about being on my own in Owensboro. You sure learn to grow up, when you have no choice but to grow up. I’m learning as I go and pushing myself to be a strong, independent person. Sometimes pushing yourself makes you learn how strong you really are.
Taylor Riley
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