Literally the most difficult thing about college is not knowing where I belong. I am split between home and school, without being in a place where I can actually start my own home. It’s painful. Wherever I am, I always miss the other.

But the sense of not belonging actually started long before college. I have lived my whole life in the (deep) South. I love it here. I intend to never live anywhere else (except possibly France). But I do not belong here. I love heat and humidity and Southern charm. I hate the drawl, football, and hunting. I have never been mudding. I don’t drink sweet tea. I hardly ever go to the beach. I did not spend my summers on the lake.

Part of this is my parents’ fault (not that it’s necessarily bad…). They were both born and raised in the South, but neither of them are southern either. They do not have accents. They are well-educated (my dad has almost completed his doctorate). They do not watch football, go hunting, or own any trucks. We live in the city (such as it is). They homeschooled my sisters and me (thank goodness!). So they’re definitely responsible.

Problem is, I can’t ever decide whether I am sad that I am not more southern or if it’s the best thing that ever could have happened to me. Southern culture equally enthralls and repulses me. I want to have a 4-wheeler and go mudding and learn how to shoot (well). I want to spend my summers on the lake. I want my children to hate shoes.

On the other hand, seeing guys who never wear anything but ratty jeans, t-shirts, and baseball caps makes me shudder. I want to run back to my college every time a sales associate calls me honey or sweetie instead of treating me like a self-sufficient adult. I would rather attend a Shakespeare play than a country concert. Discussions of Nascar, football, or reality TV (I’m looking at you, Duck Dynasty) are yawn-inducing when compared to dinnertime arguments about theology, engineering, music, and educational psychology and methods.

I have no answer. I do not know how to live in the South and not actually be of the South. I don’t know how to raise children this way. But I do know that I’m not willing to settle for either culture.

2 thoughts on “Belonging

  1. I’m sorry that you’re experiencing this sense of not belonging. Not trying to force optimism or anything here, but do you ever feel glad that you have knowledge of both of these cultures? I feel like you may not be wholly in one world or the other, but you’re a part of both – it’s almost like you can choose what to accept or refute, even if it is difficult. I guess the closest comparison I can make concerns the parenting issue: when I have children I will definitely maintain high standards like my father did, but I won’t be as abusive as my mother. It’s a wildly different comparison, though perhaps you could pick what aspects of the South you wish your children to grow up with (like how your parents home-schooled you)?

    • You are completely right about embracing parts of both cultures. I am extremely lucky to be both part of the Southern culture, but somewhat removed from it. My biggest difficulty is learning how to balance the various aspects of each culture. I am sure you understand that though…

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