10 Things I’ve Learned As A Nashville Noob

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So I’ve been in Nashville for a year and I’ve managed to learn a few things…

1. The smallest amount of precipitation sends the entire city into a panic.

This is not an exaggeration. We had less than an inch of snow and every major highway into the city was shut down. Schools all closed, government offices closed, news stations were urging people to stay in their homes unless it was absolutely unavoidable…I went to Target and tried on shoes. Had the whole place to myself.

2. It’s awkward when your best friend in the state thinks of you as “that new girl who’s around sometimes.” 

When you don’t know anyone in a brand new place, your first friend is automatically your best friend because they’re your only friend. For a while there, I’m pretty sure my best friend in TN didn’t know my first name.

3. It’s nearly impossible not to be insecure in your first big kid job.

I know how to do my job and I do it well, but I can’t keep track of how many times I let others fill me with doubt. I like to make people happy and I try to take others’ views into consideration, but sometimes people just suck. They’ll tear you down, throw you under the bus, manipulate you – and for no good reason. My default setting is to believe that everyone is wonderful. It’ll knock the wind out of you when you realize that isn’t always true.

4. Loneliness is an awful feeling.

I don’t have a very good concept of time or distance so I’ve never been homesick or missed certain individuals to any extreme extent. It offends people at times, giving them the impression that I don’t care about them which isn’t at all true. I’m just very confident in the fact that I have people who love me. I don’t need to constantly be in touch with them to remember that.

However, I’ve discovered that I very much undervalued the physical presence of people who know me. It’s intimidating to be in a world where no one knows anything about you. It sounds freeing initially, having the ability to be whoever you want. But I found it slightly terrifying. I think I feared that if I didn’t have people around me who could remind me of who I am, that I might forget myself. Turns out that’s not so bad – there were pieces of me that I needed to let go of.

5. Dogs don’t do well on wood floors.

For the second half of last year, I lived in a house that had wood flooring at the bottom of the stairs. In this house, my awesome dog would develop a severe limp about every two weeks. I eventually figured out that the two were related. He’d go plummeting down the stairs, hit the wood floor and BOOM, spread eagle.

This also revealed that I am certain to be a terrible parent. Not once did I take my poor dog to the vet to make sure he was ok. My philosophy was to wait it out. I wasn’t about to pay for a vet to tell me he pulled a muscle. So I waited out the 2-3 weeks of his barely being able to walk, confident that he’d be fine. So far so good.

6. My dad is not invincible.

If you read my post on figleaf back in July, you know that my dad hit a deer on his motorcycle that summer. This was the most difficult time of my life. I was physically sick and emotionally, a complete wreck. I wanted so much to be with him, but I didn’t go home. I still don’t know if it was over-rationalization, fear or if I was just a bad daughter in the moment.

He walked away with wicked raspberries and a concussion that made him sound very much like Dori the fish, but was otherwise fine.

7. I’m more country than most people in Nashville.

There are a few buzz words that get tossed around down here: Johnny Cash, Hank Williams, pickup truck, fishin’, beer, honky tonk, cutoff jeans, cowboy boots, redneck, yeehaw, the list goes on. However, I’ve found that most of these individuals have no idea what I mean when I talk about mudding, a 154 muley, or 10′ bonfires. (By the way, anything less than 5 feet tall is a campfire. Not a bonfire.)

8. People drive big trucks for absolutely no reason.

I just don’t really get this one.

9. It’s very unlikely that I’ll marry Dierks Bentley or Josh Turner.

This one had me pretty upset for a while. I suppose they’re both a bit old for me anyway and very much unavailable. Still, I had hoped.

10. I belong here (at the moment).

Nashville is an amazing city. There’s incredible talent around every corner, good old southern hospitality, and the food… the food.

All around, this is the change and challenge I needed. Whether it’s a forever city or a for now city, Nashvegas is perfect in the moment.

 

Blunt and Obnoxious

I’ve found myself giving uninvited advice again. A freshman at Lipscomb was talking about what to do with her life. She doesn’t feel she fits in the college student mold, she has some ideas about what she might want to do at some point in the future, but for the most part, doesn’t have the financial capacity to do them now. She wants definitive direction and assurance. Cute, right?

I can remember being in the same place. I knew I didn’t “belong” in Athens half way through my freshman year. I was there for five more. I always knew I was capable of “more” than what I was doing in school. Now, I’m working for one of the top ad agencies in Nashville, on salary, full benefits, and a crazy fun atmosphere. I’m still not satisfied. I want to do more.

I think we place too much value on satisfaction. To be completely satisfied is to be complacent, eventually apathetic. We limit ourselves with this idea of a “calling” or with responsibility, believing we have to commit to stability to be happy. What if we re-focused our “calling” on a mindset or lifestyle rather than an occupation? Not too long ago I wrote that I need to do something that makes others happy and makes myself happy. I want to inspire people, to ignite them in helping them discover their passion and ability. What if that’s my vocation? My calling? What if I get to choose my job, my home, my life roles and in whatever I choose, I fulfill my calling in simply building into the people and situations around me in awesome ways?

Well shit. I’ve been wasting so much time! I’m always trying to be what I’m expected to be, but true greatness isn’t a label you can earn from the world, it’s a choice.

20131025-083018.jpg Each day at about 2 o’clock I make a list of the key things I want to accomplish in life. Each day at 2 o’clock, I choose to be great. Sometimes it’s a list of big things, set in the future. Other days, it’s a list of how to keep my mouth shut when everything within me is urging me to tell that coworker to grow a pair and confront the problem so we can move on. Items on the list may vary drastically, but they are all key elements of my deliberate choice to be great. Not in the future, but now, immediately and continuously. I will accomplish great things in the future, I will be great in the present.

So I proceeded to dump all of this revolutionary wisdom on this poor freshman who just wanted to know what to be when she grows up. She nodded her head and thanked me for the advice. I hope she didn’t understand me, not fully. I hope she understood just enough to take a risk, do something outside of the cycle she’s in. But, I hope that the risk she takes leads to greater risk and greater adventure. I hope that she experiences relationships and failures and successes that challenge her ideas and perspective.

I’m a blunt and often obnoxious person. But I believe in people. I want so much for them to believe in themselves, to discover the joy in knowing that they do in fact hold significance, to be free from fear’s limitations. I want them to choose to be great.

Roommates, Choices, and Craig Morgan

Well it’s official. I’m a post-college white kid. I’m living on beans and rice this week because I don’t get paid until Friday and I had to buy dog food. I got a letter from the hospital today saying that the insurance company denied my claim for my surgery in February. My car hesitates to turn over each morning and hasn’t been washed in months. My poor roommate hates my dog because he wakes her up at six every morning. I’m already finding reasons to complain about my job and I haven’t been on a single date since I moved to Nashville!

Uh, can you say spoiled little white girl much?

I don’t have money because I spend it on unnecessary things, mostly Mexican food and craft beer. I am currently covered under three different medical insurance plans, it’s just a matter of getting them the right info. I have a car that gets me from point A to point B and with decent gas mileage. Both of my roommates are awesome and put up with my bringing home a very large (very energetic) puppy. I have a salary position with full benefits and the dating thing, well we’ve been over that. Life is rough, am I right?

I think I’m actually frustrated with myself. I know that I can do better, that I can be better. I have so much potential and opportunity, if I would just get my shit together and focus, I could dominate everything. I don’t like that in order to put more time and effort into perfecting one thing, I have to sacrifice time and effort somewhere else. I can’t be great at everything and I can’t make everyone happy, and I don’t like it.

So, now what? How do I come to terms with my limitations? How do I decide what to pour my life into and what to let go of?

I don’t have an answer, but I do have a starting point. Or maybe it’s more of a self-check to revisit periodically. I think I should be doing things that 1) make other people happy and 2) make me happy. Doing only things that make others happy will inevitably suck me dry, leaving me bitter and lonely. Doing only things that make me happy will inevitably come at the expense of others, pissing them off, leaving me bitter and lonely. If I’m not making anyone happy, what in the world am I doing?

I have to find a way to accept that I can’t possibly be great at everything and that I can’t possibly make everyone happy in life. I need others and they need me, and there’s nothing wrong with that. I sat on this overnight and waited to post, and I’m so glad I did. On my way to my morning coffee spot, I heard a story on the radio about a comment Craig Morgan wrote on his Facebook page in rebuttal to a snide tweet by one of his fans. You should read it:

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“Not being as good at one thing is the price we sometimes pay for attempting to be great at others.”

We grab at all these different things in and throughout life, fumbling to hold onto it all. Eventually, our hands are full and we have to decide what to hold onto and what to live without. Sometimes the choice is obvious, but more often, it’s incredibly difficult to discern. Our generation is so burdened with responsibility; student loans, preparing to support a family, making decisions that will provide you with stability. There is little room left for dreams and adventure.

I have every opportunity in the world and am incredibly blessed. I have several things that I enjoy doing, opportunities to establish security, purposes and movements I enjoy supporting. I have the means to create stability, truths I enjoy discovering, dreams I enjoy chasing. But I just can’t have it all. I have to stop wasting my time in mediocre limbo. I’m at a turning point and desperately need to make a decision. I have to let go of some of these things. I have to make a choice. It blows.

My Top 5 Insecurities

I like today’s weather. It reminds me of fall. It makes me excited for scarves and colors and coffee. Well, I drink coffee all the time, but now everyone else will be drinking it with me. It’s much more enjoyable that way.

I’ve always loved fall, but I think this year’s will be particularly pleasant. I’m tied to it this year. You know, like all those cheesy analogies. I’m in a time of change and transition, full of color and the anticipation of the challenges of winter and the promises of spring. And Tennessee is supposed to be freaking gorgeous in the fall.

I’m also excited for people to wear pants. Im not sure when it became acceptable for girls to wear shorts shorter than their shirt, or for guys to wear cross-country shorts in public, but I don’t approve. Also, I have ridiculous tan lines across the middle of my shins (some advice: don’t wear capris kayaking), so I’ve been wearing pants all summer to hide them. It will be nice to fit in again.

I do worry as I settle in that I might blend in too well. I’ve already found myself in a rut of meaningless repetition in some ways. I’ve also found myself pretty insecure which is new for me. I don’t like it. I question my ability to do my job well, my ability to lead, to socialize, and even worry bout how I look. If you know me, you know that’s not normal. 90% of my life is jeans, t-shirts, and in un-brushed hair. It might be in a ponytail if I have the energy to pull it up.

I’ve been trying to figure out what this new self-doubt is rooted in. My first thought was my typical default: people. That it’s because I don’t have my support system, no one telling me how great or beautiful I am or that everyone loves me and I’ll be famous one day. Then I realized that I still talk to my mom on a regular basis so that must not be it.

Maybe the difference is that I have time to think about it now. I’m not used to my workload ending at 5, I’m not sure what to do with the time. Then that makes me wonder if I’ve always been insecure and just too busy to notice. No, my confidence has been borderline arrogance for as long as I remember. Something has changed and I need to figure out what.

I’m going to tell you the symptoms and you’re going to diagnose. Ready? My insecurities…

Note that I am not good at admitting my shortcomings and I hate looking weak so this is incredibly uncomfortable for me. But I’m strong so I can do it.

1. I have bubbly knees: I think I have twice the knee skin on regular knee bone. They’re weird and one of the key reasons I don’t wear dresses. (The other is that I can’t sit dress-appropriately for more than ten minutes.)

2. I have teacher arms: You know, the flab that hangs when the teacher writes on the chalkboard. My parents are both teachers so I blame heredity. I have discovered that putting my hands on my hips in pictures helps significantly, so that’s encouraging.

3. I’m not girly enough: This seems like a dating thing, and that’s part of it, but it really stretches across the entirety of my life. I like dark beer, whiskey, classic rock, Harleys, and college football. Few girls can relate to it, most guys are intimidated by it, mom asked me if I was a lesbian in high school, it’s presented some challenges. (I’m not a lesbian if you’re wondering.)

4. Everyone and their little brother is getting married: This one is a dating thing. The majority of my friends are married. Not only that, but my little sister’s friends are starting to get married. All of my older cousins are married, I’m supposed to be next in line. I don’t know how to get married.

5. I look arrogant: This is probably my greatest fear. I hate the idea of looking cocky or arrogant. I want to be bold and confident, but I don’t want people to misinterpret my confidence for conceit. And so I lock up, keep my thoughts, talents, and dreams to myself. I never play or sing unless I’m asked. I shut down in the middle of a conversation when I get the slightest feeling that I’m speaking too much or too boldly. I feel uncomfortable in an outfit that makes me feel attractive because I don’t want people to think I’m looking for attention. My outgoing personality suddenly sends me inward, if that makes sense.

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Well, there you have it; my 5 greatest insecurities in a nutshell. This is your chance to get in touch with your inner Dr. Phil. I’d recommend skipping the mustache though, it kinda creeps me out.

The Fear of Becoming a Band Aid

I know! I’m a terrible blogger. I’m sure you’re all dying to know what I’ve been up to. I’m afraid I don’t have much to tell, but what I do have has me pretty excited. Once again, it’s entirely centered around people.

I had a conversation with a new friend last week (I know, it’s exciting; my friend count is almost in the double digits). I mentioned that I think one of our greatest weaknesses as a culture is our contentment with mediocrity and that we allow fear to keep us from greatness. It’s something I’ve been claiming for some time and so when he asked me what it is we’re afraid of, I was pretty frustrated that I didn’t have an answer.

Since then, I’ve been trying to figure it out. Though they vary from person to person, I could name some fairly common fears: failure and disappointment, the unknown, lack of control, physical or emotional pain, social exile. I can pinpoint a particular source of fear in nearly every individual I’ve discovered it in, but I wonder if there is some commonality. I wonder if these fears that lead us to contentment in mediocrity are all rooted in some greater fear or condition.

Monday evening I found myself in extreme doubt regarding my job. There are particular things that led up to this doubt, but it was primarily rooted in passion. I couldn’t find where my passions aligned with the vision of the company and it had me close to downright anger.

Well, that night I was in a conversation with my new friend along with a few others, chatting about justice. I sat with the group, frustrated and pissed off. These people were doing it right, they were all helping homeless people and doing cool justice things; I’m working at an ad agency with sonic ice and beer camels, making money for personal injury attorneys [insert sarcastic remark about the supposed value of social media].

Then, toward the end of the evening, someone mentioned the need for change in government policy. My head nearly exploded.

In college, I used to spout off what I called my “media spiel” to anyone who asked me what I wanted to do with my life. I’ll give you an abridged version.

I like strategy. I like defining a problem and developing a plan to solve it. I like establishing a vision and creating a structured means of accomplishing it. So, when I look at a humongous and intimidating issue like poverty or human trafficking, I don’t like the band-aid approach. Sure, it’s great to serve a meal to the local homeless, and it’s great to visit with prostitutes and offer them free friendship. But it’s not enough. We have to tackle the source of the problem.

So, I started looking at influence. Who are the influencers in our culture? Government was my first thought, but I hate politics. I hate them because I want to care about them but I don’t understand them and I don’t enjoy trying to understand. Education was next, but my parents are both teachers and they both remarried teachers; I’m daring and different, I can’t do the same thing. Then, I landed on media. Oh the media, what a beast. I’m going to assume that you are at least vaguely familiar with the power of media and skip to the end of my spiel.

My ‘vocation’ if you will, is to influence the influencers. Not to serve homeless people dinner or play with inner-city children. I do those things because they bring joy to me, to those I’m serving, and to those I’m serving with. But that’s not why I’m here.

I have the desire to challenge and transform the minds of those content with ignorance, seeking the world’s success, oblivious to its desperate need. I want to understand the mind of the world in which they live and how they’ve defined success. I want to speak the language and earn their respect as an equal so that I can communicate the need for change in a way that makes them want to listen. I want to accomplish justice by inviting these people of influence to accomplish it with me.

And so I discovered the root of my fear. I feared I had lost myself. I feared that committing to the path I was on might lead me to discover someone I didn’t want to be, and in that fear, in being focused entirely on myself, I became content with band-aids.

Don’t get me wrong, band-aids are great things and are most definitely needed. But my hope is that as we continue to apply band-aids, we are also seeking a cure.
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That group of people discussing justice; they are seeking a cure. (I was momentarily blinded by my own frustration in thinking our goals were different that Monday.) They look beyond themselves and the quick fix. They spend time evaluating the problem, defining the cause, taking action, and refining their strategy based on the outcome.

These people don’t have time to be afraid, they’re too busy making an impact. I hope so much that I can join them.

Muffins and Midriffs

I’m a little upset that belly shirts are back in style. And not even the loose ones that look like your shirt is missing the bottom half, but the tight ones that no one looks attractive in. Unless you’re rock-solid, you’re going to have an additional muffin top. And if you aren’t ripped, odds are you already have a regular muffin top so now you have two; you have a double-topped muffin. While a literal double-topped muffin sounds delicious, it’s extremely unattractive on anyone.

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Change is strange. Things go in and out of style, ideologies develop and evolve. There is always something familiar about change; it can always be tied to something that’s happened previously. But, it always leaves a feeling of newness that is scary for some and exciting for others.

I’ve caught myself wanting change already. I’m trying to mold it into a desire for progression instead, but it’s difficult. Change is easier. When I change something, I get a clean slate. I get rid of whatever I’m unsatisfied with and replace it with something else. Progression requires commitment and investment. I have to take the bad with the good and build on them. The end result will be more stable, but the process is emotional and tedious; I don’t have much patience for either.

I think I’m worried that if I invest in something, I might miss the opportunity to invest in something better. I love the idea of doing something I’m passionate about, but I can’t afford to travel the world playing music and telling people they’re important. So I bounce from one opportunity to the next, trying to find something worth committing my passion to.

How ridiculous is that? What a waste of life. Maybe I’d be a little more excited about what I’m doing if I made a point to invest in the people surrounding me rather than the things or the positions or the opportunities. I’ve been walking into the same building of more than 100 employees every day for nearly six months and I barely know any of them. I’ve been serving the same group of homeless people dinner every Thursday and can’t remember most of their names from week to week.

I have every opportunity to connect to my passions every day and instead I choose laziness. I choose change over progression, moving from one idea to the next. I need to build on the relationships and opportunities that are right in front of me. I guess if I ever want to accomplish passion, I’d better ditch the double-topped muffin and get a real shirt.

Every Girl Has A Post About Dating

I’m having one of those days where I’m feeling really single. You know exactly what I mean; Facebook is full of engagement announcements, wedding plans, and baby pictures. Friend groups are full of couples and there’s always that one other single there, which makes it extra weird because everyone else decides that being the only two single people automatically means you’re perfect for each other. And what is with all the men with dogs and babies walking around Nashville? Seriously, it’s weird how many there are.

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It’s silly. I am a strong, beautiful, confident woman with a college degree and drive and ambition. And obviously, humility. Why wouldn’t anyone want to date me? I suppose I’m at that stage that all women hit. Our ovaries are screaming “make babies now!” and parents are asking “when are you finally going to date someone seriously?” Basically, all this leads me to contemplate why I’m so terrible at dating. Here’s what I came up with:

1. Men Have a God Complex

Most of the men who have expressed any interest in me lose it when they figure out I don’t need them. I am a strong, independent young woman. I deal with things rationally and quietly. Now don’t get me wrong, I like to have support in tough times just like everyone else. But it takes a little time to build the trust to get to that level. I won’t lean on you until I know you’re willing to hold the weight. Needing to be needed presents expectations I’m not sure I’m willing to take on.

2. I Have ‘f*** off’ Stamped Across My Forehead

I was completely unaware of this until about a year ago when Ben and Lena were kind enough to point it out. I think it’s limited to the bar/party scene for the most part. I mean can you blame me? I wasn’t exactly the kind of girl who liked to attract a particular kind of attention that was fairly regular in the OU party scene. I can remember a few conversations I had that didn’t last ten minutes before I just said “I’m not going home with you.” I don’t like to waste time.

Buuuut, I shouldn’t just assume that that’s their goal. Not all men are complete douchebags. Unless they’re at the Crystal. Then they most definitely are.

3. I’m too Crude for the Innocent and too Innocent for the Crude

It’s one makes me laugh. People react to me in one of two ways: they think I’m naive and prude, or they think I’m crass and a drunk. Neither and both are true. I’m smack in the middle. I swear fairly regularly and I love tequila and dark beer. I also go to church every Sunday and don’t put out. Someday I’ll find someone to join me. Until then, I’ll sip my bourbon and contemplate the theology of Romans by myself.

4. Jocks are Dumb and Smart Guys are Small

I can’t bring myself to date someone smaller than me. I’ve tried, truly, but I just can’t do it. I like large men with calloused hands and a beautiful jawline. Until they open their mouths to speak. Don’t get me wrong. I have an amazing respect for the good-hearted, blue-collar worker back home. In fact, that’s exactly the kind of guy I’m typically attracted to. But there’s only so much you can learn in the fields and mud of Holmesville, Ohio. Could someone just get the farmer an education so we can live happily ever after?

5. I’m Terrified

I think everyone who knows me read that and went “Aw, she finally figured it out.” When I’m attracted to someone, my first instinct is to do all that I can to reason myself out of it. I’ve pushed good people away because of it, lost dear friends even.

My mom is crying as she reads this, thinking the divorce ruined me and she’ll never have grand-babies. Don’t worry mom, I genuinely believe this isn’t rooted in the divorce. I think it’s more directly connected to attention deficit disorder.

I don’t like to sit still. I love knowing that I can change anything I want about my life at this moment and there’s nothing to hold me back. Well except for student debt, but that’s a whole different rant.

I picked up and moved my entire life to Nashville within about two weeks. And not because I was dreaming about working for personal injury lawyers in Nashville, but because I didn’t have any reason not to! And today, if someone walked up to me and said that they’ll send me to Europe or Australia for the same salary, I would go! Again, the financial thing would be the key factor, but other than that, I wouldn’t hesitate! I want to do exciting things experience different cultures. I’m afraid that seriously dating someone is the first step to depleting any hope for those dreams.

Basically, I just need to find someone to drink tequila and travel the world with me. Or marry rich, that could work too.

What do you think; is there hope for me? Or am I just a silly naive dreamer?