Moving Away Doesn't Make You Special: A Meditation on Doubling Back


Everybody is moving. Moving is a beautiful and special thing that marks a new stage in life and I'm all about those. I've lived in a few places. Many of my best friends are many miles away from me. My very best pal (Hey, Madeline!) is on a whole other continent. See the world. Shake the table. Moving is great.

However, moving away doesn’t make you special.

I mean it in the nicest way possible. Please know there is not one hateriffic bone in my 5'9'' triple-digit-pounds black female body. There might be some bitter water weight but this blogging diet is about to have me trim and harmonious, ok!

I'm not mad at anyone for moving. I'm all my loved ones cheerleader when they do anything positive, especially moving. But this post isn't about me proving how much of a lover of others' success I am. Its about the under-bridgelings who feel they like they're the queen and we're all the sorry people because they uprooted (watch the below video for the reference!).

I cannot lie to my faithful 12 readers. I know you all are catching a vibe from this week's missive and you're absolutely right. The undercurrent of vitriol in this post is my atonement for being one of the queens and feeling superior to the sorry people.

*dreamy harp music playing*

Way back in 2011 when I moved to D.C. to attend the illustrious Howard University (it's in the fine print on our degrees that we announce it as such), I was so proud of me. I should have been. I was a Howard student. I was elite. I was straight outta Greenville. I had a blue storage bin FULL of the latest from Ashley Stewart and Old Navy. I was that girl!

During my first semester, my peers knocked me down a few pegs with their incomparable greatness and built me back up 10x more. By my first trip home in November, I was FEEL-ING MY-SELF. I had lost about 30lbs from forgetting to eat/being afraid to go to the cafe by myself and walking everywhere, gotten some fye Forever 21 imported from Gallery Place, I'd picked up new hip lingo from across the country, and only been lost on the metro twice. I even got my nose pierced (a story for another blog lol). I was it. I couldn't even with the folks back home who hadn't been to the mall on a Sunday after 7pm or had Chicken Parmesan delivered to their dorm at 2am after a night out. So basic. It only worsened during my years. I was metropolitan, honey!

*enter 2015*

I graduated and had the option to attend Clemson or Georgtown for my master's degree. I was struggling to find a job, housing, and roommates to support my continued upwardly mobile black millennial D.C. lifestyle. I decided on Clemson because of a flexible program wherein I would gain teaching experience. My father (Hey, Thaddeus!) told me he would get me a car and an apartment if I ever went to his alma mater. Win/win! But I had to come back home. This meant no more airport-a-ritas at DCA waiting on my 8pm from gate 35X, special dinners ready for me when I came home, or homebound friends clamoring to link up during my visits. I was town-folk once again. Talk about crushed.

This is when I first realized what a world-class butt I had been during my time away. The only reason I felt I had fallen from grace is because I put myself up on such a high pedal-stool. I had a problem being town-folk because I had built it up in my mind that such was a less-than existence. That's totally unfair hogwash.

My time at Clemson University, Go Tigers! (it's in the fine print in on our degrees that we have to include that in all our communications) was amazing. I grew like wild as a person and met folks I am grateful to call friends. Could I have had the same experience at Georgetown? Probably. That's not the point. The point is I bloomed where I was planted.

People stay where they are or return for many reasons. There are socioeconomic, family, personal preference, and literally 12,000,038 other factors that dictate their choices. None of those factors make them lesser than those that move away. In some ways, it's noble to make your way where you are.

I'm very proud of what I've been able to do since being back home. I did feel defeated when again after grad school I got no offers to start a glamorous advertising career in New York, Atlanta, Chicago, D.C., Houston, L.A., Seattle, Charlotte, or Boston. I felt I failed and had wasted my time and money in school. As a means to pull myself out of dejection, A. Allen Consulting LLC was born. I was inspired by all the entrepreneurs I'd grown up around. I was encouraged by my friends who also found themselves back in GVegas and making it happen for themselves. I don't think I would have felt empowered to strike out on my own if I weren't here. My city has supported me (something I'll talk about more in another post I'll link here). I'm making opportunities and connections that can get me places. Right now, I'm coming up in the same place my ancestors did. I'm working on projects that will shape my city for years to come. I'm honored to have this experience.

Let me say though I'm on the first thing smoking if one of my licks hit in one of these metropoles! Never run from opportunity.

We need to encourage one another and celebrate blooming wherever it is. This goes doubly for the folks that love getting on Al Gore's internet and bashing their current locations. You too, Mz Bizz, were gleefully slurping syringe jello-shots at Dave & Buster's grand openings. You too wore shutter shades WAY past their novelty. The north REMEMBERS. But I'm a let you rock because we all were/are annoying in some way. The point is complaining doesn't fix the issue. Tend the garden. Help people bloom. Change the culture.

Moving away doesn't make you special. What matters is what you do where you are. You can be a useless butt at any geographic location. You can also prosper anywhere. It's a mindset.

"Coming back to where you started isn't the same as never leaving." Terry Pratchett said that. A friend (Hey, McAdams!)said it to me and I tell myself and other people. Honor your current space. Be open to what can happen. Don't be afraid to move if the opportunity presents itself. Go after what you want. Be proud of your progress but don't feel superior because you can't see what others are doing while still in the same place.


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