Someone asked me just the other day if my job is tough.

“You must have thick skin,” said the pretty redhead without a blemish to be found on her perfectly-balanced skin thickness.

I thought a minute before answering. Years ago I would have said yes; that the criticism and complaints kept me up at night, sometimes made me cry and fueled my need for a steady supply of antacids. 

Today, none of that holds true. 

I sleep soundly for seven hours a night and rarely need a tissue, but I do invest in a lot of lotion to keep my thick skin from turning into beef jerky. The Husband wouldn’t like that.

So I answered my friend by telling her that criticism doesn’t phase me much anymore.

After 10 years of sitting in this office, I’ve gotten accustomed to it.

And the beautiful thing about age is that it’s taught me that most people who openly criticize others are usually the ones doing little to nothing to improve the lives of their fellow citizens. 

You know the ones I’m talking about; the people who, no matter what anyone does, have something nasty and negative to say on social media.

That was on full display this week when I was chin-deep in economic development stories.

The Stephenville City Council and SEDA have been hard at work on new projects. And on Tuesday it was announced that a $25 million project is coming to Stephenville. 

Project Blue, as it’s called, will include a new restaurant, 45,000 square feet of retail space including 10,000 square feet of outdoor space and a 100-room hotel.

My insides jumped for joy when I learned the specifics of the project. My mind instantly visualized The Husband and I sipping chardonnay on the patio of a new restaurant and browsing new shops on my lunch hour.

I flipped on my computer at 5 a.m. Wednesday and posted the story about Project Blue online. 

An hour later I was enjoying a second cup of coffee when I heard The Husband say, “The Negative Nancys are up bright and early this morning.”

I went to Facebook and, yep, there they were, griping about the project, wishing it was something else, but not offering a single logical thought about how any of their desires could come to fruition.

Those few posts irritated me, but they were outnumbered by positive ones, which gave me hope and prompted me to pour another cup of coffee and shot of pumpkin spice. 

Here’s the thing: I have the pleasure of working with some of the brightest minds in Stephenville, people who volunteer their time, energy and resources to this community through selfless service.

They are members of the city council, SEDA board of directors and a slew of others whose names and faces don’t always make the newspaper.

They spend hours working behind the scenes to bring new businesses to the area, increase local revenue and improve the quality of life for all of us. And none of it’s easy.

It’s tedious and time consuming and nothing, as we all know, ever goes as planned. 

So the next time you want to gripe about the way things are going, ask yourself what it is you are doing to improve Stephenville.

If the answer is nothing, here’s a few suggestions: Run for city council, organize a fundraiser for the Erath County Humane Society or better yet, donate your own money or lend a helping hand by spending an afternoon cleaning up the shelter or feeding animals.

It’s a lot more productive than complaining. 

 Sara Vanden Berge is the managing editor of the Empire-Tribune and Glen Rose Reporter. Email her at or follow her on Twitter @ETEditor.