It is easy to take for granted what you have grown up with, and all the wonderful people and places that have always surrounded you.
I never quite understood just how much Memphis contains within its borders, and how that had already shaped me and the way I see the world. I grew up far away from where Memphis comes together, out in Eads where there are probably more horses than people. Every morning on my drive to school, there were few signs of life besides the deer that would wander into the road, and I could not imagine anything different.
It was not until I joined the small staff of my high school’s newspaper that I began to actually look at the city in which I lived—the positives that come with the negatives, the benefits behind the detriments. In my narrow sphere of living, I had missed so much: the persistent, unrelenting spirit of the people who grow up here, the pride of being a part of a community, the unique culture that surrounds the Delta.
So I finally looked around. I took photos, I wrote, I interviewed. I went to my first Pride Fest and I spent so much time at Shelby Farms. I drank a ton of coffee, from Levee Creamery to Java Cabana. I participated in the Women’s March downtown, and I got involved with the Memphis Youth Council. In the process, I started talking more and more to the people around me. What I found was an abundance of kindness and a wealth of knowledge.
I progressed through high school, eventually taking over as Editor-in-Chief of my school’s literary magazine and Editor of Photography and Web Content for my school’s newspaper. As I took on more responsibility, I had to keep going beyond what I had learned to be comfortable with. I had to learn how to sometimes be a leader and sometimes sit back and learn. I had to learn to keep pushing myself, to never be just okay with the way things are.
Memphis, I eventually figured out, is a great place to learn. Though I’ll be leaving in January for college (weird timing, I know), I am beyond excited to spend the time up till then working and growing as an intern at Choose901.