I’ve gotten a lot of…I’ll just say it–crap for being from the southeast during my travels in the States. I still remember a rather humorous moment my freshman year of college at Boston University when someone looked shocked when he found out I was from Atlanta: “I thought you were from Connecticut!”
I’ve been listening to “Southern Comfort Zone” by Brad Paisley on repeat lately. It’s a fantastic song that encourages people to see the world while incorporating some southern flair. I love this line: “I know what it’s like to talk and nobody understands…I know what it’s like to be the only one like me / to take a good look around and be in the minority.”
It can be jarring leaving one’s comfort zone, much less having someone remind you that you’re an outsider. At one point, I changed “y’all” to “you guys” because I didn’t want to hear the teasing, the redneck jokes, or the most common, “But you don’t have a southern accent!”
A particularly funny party story from early into my 3 years of living in San Francisco:
Over the years, I’ve realized that there are times to blend in, but more often than not, it’s important to celebrate who you are. Rock the curls! Wear your favorite goofy-looking socks under your business suit. Embrace your accent and authentic voice.
I brought back “y’all” and say I’m from Atlanta. I give people a chance to see that I come from a unique and beautiful culture and that most southerners are not rednecks who still think the “War of Northern Agression” is going on.
I believe in taking the time to get to know people. To be curious about their backgrounds, their cultures, and to adopt some of their customs if you see fit. You never know, you might find you like BBQ and banjo!
While watching Justin Timerlake host his 5th time on SNL On Demand, NBC did something commendable. Instead of the typical ads that you can’t fast forward, they had brief “The More You Know” segments.
The most powerful one was about the most dangerous word in the English language: ASSUME
The guy said, “Don’t assume anything. Get to know people.”
Right on! How different would our world be if we actually got to know people? As Brad (we’re on a first name basis now) says, “I can’t see this world unless I go outside my southern comfort zone.” Whoever you are, wherever you’re from, celebrate it—get to know people and get out there and see this world!