I am a believer that our identities are shaped by where we grew up. The people, place, school and community values all add up to who we are and will continue to impact our lives as we grow older. I could not even imagine who I would be if I didn't grow up in Asheville, North Carolina. It is such an amazing city where no one is afraid to be themselves. I feel that this significantly impacted who I am today because I was introduced to such a diverse group of people with different beliefs. Living in Asheville influenced my identity because the environment helped form my values and social awareness.
Living in an area enclosed by mountains and beautiful views taught me the value of preserving the environment. Being surrounded by nature made me realize that if I don't treat it with respect, I might not be able to see it outside my window every day. Not only did I think of this on my own but all the people living around me had the same perspective. There were many organizations located in Asheville that focused on saving the earth.
Also, many farms populate the area and are all about growing fresh produce without using chemicals or other substances that could harm the environment. It was great because even in my classes at school we would talk about climate change. Not only was my teacher raising awareness, but she gave us tons of advice on how we can avoid it such as eating less beef and driving only when you have to. I am glad that I grew up in a place where the earth is considered sacred because I know how to decrease my carbon footprint and I can pass this knowledge onto others.
Asheville is well known for having delicious and local food at all of its restaurants and farmers markets. I spent a lot of time working in the markets, eating out and finding an appreciation for food that was at times, grown in my own backyard. My parents (like many Ashvillians) always put fresh and nutritious food on my plate that they had either grown or purchased from small, local businesses. I noticed after moving from Asheville that the food made there truly tastes ten times better than anyone else. Knowing that the animals weren't kept in bad conditions and that the veggies weren't covered in chemicals made the experience so much better. I now know that even though local food costs a little extra, the taste and background makes the product worth its cost.
Asheville is filled with many types of people. No matter where I went I was introduced to people of different ethnicities, sexualities, class levels and backgrounds. I feel like this had the biggest impact on my identity because I was exposed to all these categories of people and noticed that not everyone had the same privileges as me. I was also raised learning that it doesn't matter what color one's skin is or who they are in love with they still must be treated equally.
People from less diverse cities might still think this way but it makes a huge difference when these people are in your lives daily. Everywhere around me, I would see a homeless man begging for money on the street or two men holding hands and kissing without thinking anything of it. I am glad that I grew up in Asheville because now I am so accepting and have love in my heart for everyone.
I am grateful that I was able to live in an area filled with such different and inspiring people who have strong beliefs about local food and the environment. Even now living in the big city of Charlotte, I continue to have these memories and values and will have them for the rest of my life.