Since I’m new to Alexandria, I proposed a project idea to the Echo Press staff. I plan to start a weekly profile series of people from Douglas County called, “Friendly faces in familiar places.”

I've been inspired by projects that highlight the uniqueness of individuals, and I want to bring something similar to the local newspaper. As I started interviews, I realized that this endeavor would be a bit more challenging than I anticipated.

In a feature writing course, one of my college professors said that journalists should learn how to tell their own story before they can tell the stories of others. So, before I ask you to share about your life, let me tell you a bit about myself.

My name is Jasmine Johnson, I’m 21 years old, and I’m from Becker, Minn.

My story has involved an overflowing heap of expectations. Some have been stacked up by others and some I’ve placed there myself. All of these identities sit in front of me like a pile of wobbling binders, threatening to slide off one another and collapse on the ground if even one is misplaced.

Growing up, I always aimed to be an A-honor roll kid, even though my original motivation was to attain the $20 allowance to spend on books. I only tried two sports, but I fully devoted myself to both. I played soccer for 10 years and danced for 14. I’m very invested in my family, and I miss playing basketball with them after dinner and being toppled over by my brother’s koala bear hugs.

I’m a quirky extrovert who resorts to hiding behind shyness when I want nothing more than to engage with people. I make to-do lists for every task to complete and event to attend each day, but I also sit in my hammock for hours, watching the clouds drift past. If I don’t choose a duck quack alarm and set the ringer at the top volume, I will sleep through the afternoon, but I can rip up the dance floor all night and feel just as energized as when I started.

I grew up going to church, but I’m still looking for a new faith community to plug into. Five different journals sit on my bookshelf, as I’m always writing for work and for fun. I continue spending quality time with friends whenever possible, from weekly FaceTime calls to coffeeshop meet-ups, because I feel the most content when I’m with the people I love. Whether rolling on the couch and giggling until our stomachs ache or sitting down with a latte and conversing about the world’s problems, I revel in moments of one-on-one connections. That’s one reason why I love my job.

I’m most proud of the two summer internships I had during college. I believe my experiences working at a nonprofit and daily newspaper were pivotal seasons that increased my passion for print journalism, whether I was interviewing people about sustainable agriculture or aardvark sculptures.

I accepted the reporter position at the Echo Press in February, and I started working remotely three days after I graduated from Bethel University. For me, living in Alexandria signifies new beginnings. It means loosening my grip on the things I once found my identity in and branching out to discover who I can become.

That being said, my greatest fear is not living up to all that I could be. This life is so fleeting, and I don’t want to watch it waste away. It’s a learning process to reorganize my priorities while navigating what it means to be an independent adult, but I want to do it right. Thus, the precarious stack of binders, the slippery slope of expectations I set for myself.

My plans for the future are very foggy. I could live here until my lease is up next July, or I could stay in the area for decades. Regardless of where I end up, I want to be remembered as someone who genuinely listened to people’s stories and handled them with care and respect, open-minded to the experiences of others and compassionate in my approach.

So, there you have it. I hope that explains a little more about who I am and why I want to hear about who you are, too.