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One of the true joys in no longer being in a member of the Erie media is that I have the freedom to do, say and be whatever I want without worrying what anyone thinks of me.

You’d think I’d have had freedom anyway, right? This is America, the land of the free and all, but the truth is that when you are a visible member of the media with your name, face and words out there, you have to be pretty careful about what you say, where you are seen, who you hang out with and what you do — even on your time.

I struggled with this and ultimately decided (consciously or unconsciously, I’m not sure) the best way to deal with it was to present myself as authentically as possible — paint myself as flawed as I actually was. I wrote about my shortcomings and admitted my insecurities (more so on my blog than in print).

That said, I was always on guard in public. I never knew who might “recognize” me which, frankly, weirded me out a bit. I mean, I was hardly a “celebrity,” Kardashians are not in my family tree and I can’t sing or play a guitar. I was just a woman who wrote for a living. No different than any of you, except that my face an/or name was at the top of all my work which was duplicated 90,000 times and delivered to 45,000 households.

At first I got a kick out of being recognized in public. Then it became a drag. I was always worried I might tarnish my reputation or that of the Erie Times-News.

It was a heavy yoke to carry, though I didn’t realize it then.

Only now can I appreciate the freedom in anonymity which is really quite ironic because one of the things I agonized about when making the decision to leave the newspaper biz was that I was giving up my identity. I’d “made a name for myself” and I was walking away, fade to obscurity.

I never thought I might actually like it there.

Case in point:
We took the girls to Family First Fun Zone on Saturday night. The inflatables room was left unguarded by employees. I sat there watching the girls have fun, itching to join them.

“I want to go in that bounce house,” I said to Dan.

“Do it!” he said. “Now that you’re not associated with the paper, you can do those things.”

I pondered it for about 10 seconds, kicked off my sandals and climbed in.

I’m glad to be free of the white-hot spotlight of public scrutiny.

(And, yes, I’m well aware that I now represent Penn State Behrend, but it’s not like I’m out there smoking crack and kicking puppies. I’m just pushing the weight limits of a few bounce houses now and then.)

BTW I should probably mention that I am still blogging for the Erie Times-News over at Runners Notes and I’ll be freelancing for their products now & then, too, so don’t call me a hypocrite when you see my name/face again because I’m sure you will (see…total honesty…best way to live a carefree life, I tell ya).