I remember when I told people I was headed down South for some higher education. (Is anyone hearing that Trace Adkins song in your head right now? ) There was a great deal of envy from my New England peeps regarding the weather I’d be getting down there. There were also questions like this:
–Don’t they all talk so SLOWLY down there?
–Are you gonna start drawling and saying “y’all” all the time? (Or spraying your hair big like you did back in ’89?)
–Ick, you know you’re gonna have to eat grits and gravy ALL.THE.TIME, right?
… and on and on.
While I was down there (with my smooth hair, fast speech, and ketchup-on-my-eggs, thankyouverymuch), I met my now-husband. We met down South, but I was from New England and he hailed from the Midwest. That didn’t matter too much, really, until the school year ended and we parted ways. Happily, I was able to plan a trip out to see him at the beginning of July, and it was with great excitement that I told people I was headed out to Indiana. They all said the same thing…
But it’s not that they asked me “why”– it was the way they said it. With such disdain and disbelief, their voices dripping with the insinuation that there was no possible good reason to go there. They’d certainly never want to go there. I mean, what the heck’s in Indiana, anyway? Corn? (snicker snicker)
I was disgusted with it. I was mortified that “my people” were so judgmental. Despite their catty remarks, I was delighted to fly out to Indiana to see my boyfriend and meet his friends and more of his family. I was kind of happy to be getting away from the stuck-up attitudes I had encountered in Connecticut, truthfully.
So imagine my dismay when the people I’d been so eager to meet all approached me warily. Remarks were made, some veiled and some not, about my being a “hoity-toity, snotty city girl from out East.” City girl? They obviously had no clue I’d spent my childhood combing the hilly woods behind my best friend’s house…
If I’ve learned one thing in my journey of living all over this great country of ours, it is this:
People have a remarkable amount of regional prejudice.
Most of it is born of sheer ignorance and that is just so sad, in my opinion. I think it’s wonderful to have pride in where you’re from. I also think it’s fine to visit other places and form legitimate opinions. But I’ve come to really, really dislike the way people make blanket judgments based solely on here-say or assumptions…
I’m here to share just a bit of what I’ve learned from living in eight different states scattered throughout the Midwest, New England, the Mid-Atlantic, and down South.
- All Midwesterners aren’t farmers.
- All New Englanders aren’t city-dwellers.
- All Southerners aren’t rednecks.
- Northerners do tend to talk faster than Southerners, but I don’t notice that I get any more done up here as a result.
- Southerners do eat more gravy and drink more sweet tea than Northerners, but no one down there ever seemed particularly offended when I said, “No, thank you” to either.
- Rhode Islanders are their own breed. (And there’s something kind of cool about meeting someone else from your state and knowing, before you even compare towns, that you can’t possibly live more than 45 minutes apart from one another.)
- There’s great debate over whether Virginia is a Northern or a Southern state.
- New York is not in New England. And New Englanders and New Yorkers tend to be very different animals.
- There are Democrats and Republicans all over the place.
- There are also smart people all over the place.
- Ditto for not-so-smart people.
At the end of the day, I’ve dearly loved the people in every place I’ve lived. Are there some regional differences and quirks? Absolutely. But, truly, there is far more that unites us than divides us.
And I, for one, am happy to embrace that fact.
What preconception is there about where you’re from? Is it true?