Being from a small town in the South, it's commonplace for kids to graduate from high school and start working a job in their hometowns. You're born there, you stay there, you die there. Not to say there's anything wrong with it, but more often than not, people don't escape the small town life. Again, it's mostly the choice of the person to stay in their small towns, and it's all based on the idea that where you are from is your identity.
I challenge this idea each day.
See, I've never believed in the idea that where you are born is who you are. I understand that it is an important component of developing us into who we are as adults, as well as crafting our belief systems. These are important realities to respect, however, I have always refused to be an executor of the small town stereotype. I am not small-minded, I do not settle for a simpler lifestyle because it's easy, and I am capable of being the best at what I am aspiring to become. These are NOT determined by where I'm from, but rather, where I am going.
I firmly believe that people use where they came from as an excuse not to figure out who they are because the process is difficult and requires years of working on yourself and trying new lifestyles. I'm from a town where maybe ten percent of high school graduates attend a four-year university. Fewer than that go somewhere outside of a community college. Even fewer than that graduate from college.
Rarely are these people from impoverished homes with divorced parents or from families that were torn apart by mental illness, poor health, and drug abuse. Even rarer do these people go months on end without seeing their parents, working from sun up to sun down just to earn their keep in high school. All of these personal realities reflect where I'm from and what I experienced growing up.
Compared to many of my peers, they are anything but my inhibitors.
Where you're from is one of the largest influences on who you become as a person. The person you become as a result does not have to be a victim of anything — mediocrity, pessimism, ignorance, etc. Rather, you learn about the place that you're from. You never stop watching it or the people inside of it. You take away the positives and learn not to succumb to their negatives.
What does it all mean? Where you're from only matters for 18 years of your life. After that, it's all on you to determine what you will make of your life. Take it from me... it's possible to have a millionaire mindset while you live in rags. It's possible to be thinker while drowning in a sea of talkers. Your ambition, your hustle, your vision — these are the things that make you who you are.
What do all of my points have in common? They are all about where you're going, not where you come from. The world doesn't care where you come from. It does care, however, about what you learned while you were there. This is where your experience plays into your ability, reflected through your ambition.
You can be from a place you're not proud of. You can be from a place where everyone fails or settles to be less than their best selves. Or you can be like me — from a place where you feel like you were meant for more, and you know in your heart that the place you came from doesn't define you. Remember, it doesn't have to matter where you came from; it's where you're going.