My first week in Georgia is complete and I really don’t have anything deep or fancy to report.  Macon is flowing with sweet tea and Southern drawls, Blue Bell ice cream and waves and head nods from perfect strangers.  I’ve encountered some of the nicest shady folks ever and I’ll never look at “Bless your heeaarrrt…” the same way again.  Gas is $1.84 (*quickens*) and I am more than delighted to find myself in the land of Kroger, Publix, and Zaxby’s once again.  It is very developed, contrary to what some (apparently uninformed) people told me prior to the move (I haven’t seen any outhouses or dirt roads quite yet).  It’s not quite sticks but it isn’t big city living either.  I think that sentence could probably be used to describe me honestly.

bless-your-heart

(Gif: http://www.gurl.com)

It’s always amazing to me how self-conscious I tend to become right after moving to a new area.  The way I talk, the way I look in some ways, the way I engage the world around me is different from those who I am now surrounded by and I feel out of my element about 80% of the time.  I’m still trying to get used to almost anybody speaking to me, no matter where I am.  I’m still trying to get used to the looks people have on their faces when they are trying to figure out where I’m from.  I have never been so aware that I, apparently, have an accent until I got down here and a mechanic who is old enough to be my grandfather stated that he was in love with my accent and proceeded to flash me one of the most innocently creepy smiles ever.  Being down here is just…different.  And I expected it to be.

Macon Sun

There is something about being in foreign elements, though, that is oddly comforting.  My introverted nature tends to get what it needs in environments of anonymity but there is always a distinguishable feature that causes me to be noticed.  This is the case even in environments where I am known; I tend to stick out for one reason or another, despite my best attempts somehow to not be noticed.

I think I like the anonymity because it feeds fears of mine.  When you’re noticed, you’re open to critique.  When you’re noticed, people look at you and to you and you’re held to a higher standard.  I have tried to shy back from those things for a long time but for some reason, in this season, my comfort with running is at an all time low.  There’s something in me that’s ready to face life, destiny, and purpose with a tenacity that wasn’t there before.  There’s something in me that is ready to accept that I’m not from here and that I’m not like most others.  There’s a comfortability in my own skin that is unparalleled to any other time in my life.

I took a voluntary marketing class online with Harvard University to refresh my basic marketing skills because I felt that would be useful in helping me to decide how far I wanted to go with the Girl with Black Pearls and if I wanted to be “all in” with this or just keep it as a means of self care.  Considering these decisions was part of the reason why I stepped away from posting for a few weeks.  I spent the time between the end of the fall semester and the beginning of the current semester reading other people’s blogs and looking at how some other folks are building their brands and how they are approaching life and the issues about which they are passionate.  Even when looking at what others were doing, I very much got a sense of “You’re not from around here, are you?” about my own work.  I haven’t approached this blog in any particular way and some might say that my writing is too personal or too long-winded, or [insert some other critique that anyone with an opinion has].  This whole venture has been grown from a passion that has increased as I’ve lived and I’ve learned and after much thought, I don’t have a desire to change that at this point.

Getting comfortable in that “you’re not from here, are you?” space can be difficult.  The first inclination is to conform.  It can be draining to be your own person when you look around and everyone else looks alike, sounds alike, and thinks alike.  It can be enticing to change who you are because of the fear that you won’t be accepted for who you are and what you have to offer.

you cant sit with us

(GIF: meangirlsgifs.tumblr.com)

But I’ve learned from my experiences that after some time lapses, the things that make you different end up being what is cherished about you the most in new environments.

I have no doubt that by the time I leave Macon, I will [not purposely] have some sort of Southern drawl to my words and everybody will be baby, sweetie, sweetheart, or some other sugary sweet expression of endearment. I will (hopefully!) have mastered some of this Southern-flavored shade and more importantly, come back more prepared than ever to be a competent counselor/therapist.  But as it stands, I’m OK with who I am and how I stick out around here.  I’m from Maryland and I’m not going to bend over backwards trying to sound like I’m from anywhere else.  I’m a work in progress and I’m not going to break my back anymore trying to act like I have it all together.  I’m constantly learning and I’m not going to pretend like I’m not.  I’m destined to blaze trails and I’m not going to cower behind the fear and under the weight of it anymore.  This blog/brand is my voice and I’m not going to tailor it to specifically fit anyone else’s agenda or voice.

No, I’m not from here.  But I’m here now.

xo Ash

3 Comments

  1. Yes!! I feel like I’ve lived this!

    a) That “bless your heart” will get you every time. Lol!
    b) It can definitely be tempting to conform as a path of least resistance.
    c) I found moreover that I was prompted to set myself apart in a lot of subtle ways: dress, speech, etc. to navigate through my own identity politics as a “Northerner” which was something I never considered before
    d) Don’t get me started on race relations lol

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