Home Is Where The Heart Is. (The Safety Net)
“Bro, I’m telling you… I gotta get up out of here.” This is a reoccurring statement I’ve heard from my peers since I graduated high school. I feel the same way. Home is cool, but how do I get out of here? And how do I do that by doing what I love? Tough questions that almost every 20-something year old ask themselves. Especially the ones from Jersey. Specifically the ones from where I’m from, Franklin. Home is where the heart is, but it’s also where extreme comfort is. And sometimes that can be used as a safety net that can trap you if you’re not careful.
This isn’t an attack on those people either. Those are my neighbors, the natives and the people I pass every day. Those are the people I share my space with. This is just my observation. One thing that remains constant in adulthood is my lack of growth correlating to how comfortable I am or have been. To make strides in life and grow, you’re going to have to be uncomfortable. Taking chances and betting on yourself is uncomfortable. Taking risks is uncomfortable. They go hand in hand. It’s not something you can avoid. Now at 23, I can see why lately the thought of staying in Franklin makes me uneasy. It’s comfortable. One of my worst fears is not being able to make use of my creativity to eventually leave here. The common thread I’ve seen with all of the people that I look up to and whose moves I study is that they left their hometown. Most of them didn’t come from cities with a booming creative presence which forced them to take a risk and leave. I know for the brand to grow to its fullest potential, I’m going to have to do the same thing.
No one likes feeling stuck. Upward mobility is the goal and that looks different in everyone’s hometown. Some cities allow you to make the most of where you’re at, but others have a glass ceiling. I haven’t reached that point in Jersey yet, but I feel it coming. And I can tell from the conversations that I have with my peers that they feel the same way. Jersey’s is in a weird place right now. The “creative” scene is still in its early stages so even though there are a lot of people flourishing while pursuing photography, music, podcasts, clothing etc., the last thing they want to do is have their work ONLY be recognized here. To spread awareness about what they do, they have to venture out. Maybe not now, but soon. If you’re not careful, you can start to feel comfortable where you are and get boxed in. That’s terrifying to me. You never know when the opportunity comes and how often it’ll come. Coming from Jersey, you naturally have a chip on your shoulder because our scene isn’t the same as LA, NY or ATL so when an opportunity does present itself, you have to take a chance because you don’t know if it’ll come around again
I love where I’m from. It’s not the most exciting place ever. It isn’t a city, but it’s a place that raised me. That’s irreplaceable. There’ll be no other place that I go to that can replicate the memories that I created here. Loving the neighborhood you grew up in is apart of appreciating your upbringing, but becoming an adult is knowing when you should leave that environment. As of right now, I think I’ve reached that point. That’s the scariest side of evaluating my neighborhood as an adult. The older I get, the more I realize that no one ever really leaves. People are born here, go to school here, get a job here, settle down here and stay here for a majority or the rest of their lives.
A lot of the most successful people had the awareness to look at their surroundings and leave home, but they also never forget where they came from. That’s my mindset. I hope this isn’t viewed as me bashing Franklin or Jersey as a whole because I would never do that. I love my neighborhood. I love the people here. I love the man that it’s turned me into and is still shaping me to be. I could never deny that. I’ve been here my whole life. I went to SCAP as a kid. I spent some of my childhood in the Grove. I hooped at Inman and Castleton almost every day. The homies and I hit the QuickMart on Hamilton and the US Chicken on Somerset after school in 7th and 8th grade. My town is in my DNA. I took wins and losses here with stride and my heart will always be here, but I would be doing my neighborhood a disservice if I never leave to reach my full potential. Your neighborhood makes you who you are so you can take those experiences with you when you leave. Represent where you’re from in every new level of success that you reach. Don’t disconnect forever. Reach back into your neighborhood and help the next hungry kid coming up. That’s how we keep the cycle of success going. Travel as much as you can and soak up game from every destination you hit, but never forget to come back home. — Note to self.