What 25 looks like.

Tomorrow I’m a 25 year-old adult and a 6 year-old Nashville transplant. Over the weekend, I brought some of my closest friends together to celebrate at one of my favorite spots in town (Bastion) because Monday for a party is….ehh. So today, I thought I’d get a little more personal with you because one, I’m not too great at being vulnerable and two, I think it’s best people see that things aren’t always great before they get better. I figured sharing a snippet of my story would shine a light of hope on anybody out there who understands the work to build friendships.

Real friendships.

I come from a tiny town. Like 5,000 people tiny. I went to the same school for all 12 years of my adolescent, pre-teen and teen years. My family and close family friends were always my biggest support system growing up (and they still are). Living in deep south created a sense of home that I didn’t have elsewhere.

Before I moved to Nashville, I did not have friends at home. Zero. I was not the popular kid and most of the time, I felt like a complete misfit. During the short time I played varsity volleyball, the small group of friends I had were 1-2 years older than me. So when they graduated, I was left without people to identify with. That type of loneliness for 5 plus years did a number on my self-esteem and I will say, that is very, very difficult for me to admit and talk about. (Especially, right here, on a blog page to those whom I've never opened up to about it.) Those feelings stayed with me, and still haunt me from time to time, leading me to think false assumptions like “do people want me around?" or am I "being too much?"

Keeping a smile on my face and a calm demeanor for an extended period of time stemmed from the fighter in me that walked the halls of a small private school bubble. I coped by writing and publishing my thoughts from a generic perspective. I was always into cooking and crafting so I spent that time pretending I had my own cooking show in my family kitchen. Giada De Laurentiis was my hero.

Fast forward to freshmen year at Belmont. Oh that awkward, “do I study more than I socialize?” debate. During that four years, I learned to find my voice again, make friends and allow people to love me-to completely give up those trust issues and understand that this was a new way of life and I could truly let go. Letting go took a LONG TIME. When people say “things take time,” I encourage you to hear that as a step-by-step process towards good things you haven't yet experienced. At Belmont I found a tight-knit group I could lean on, but found myself trying to adjust in the midst of a new job as a 20-something. And if people ask me why I love Belmont so much, the above statement explains why. I wouldn't be who I am without that place.

This past Friday night. a lightbulb went off as I mingled with 30 to 40 people at an indoor patio bar of sorts. This is not to brag that I have 30-40 friends more than anyone else. What I’m getting at is, every person in that room, I’ve developed a relationship with over the course of 6 years and the web of how they know each other is incredible to me. I think God puts us in phases of loneliness and uncertainty to force us to start from scratch. If I had reasons to stay in my hometown post high school I would never moved to Nashville and slowly discovered the community I have today. So many people that move to a new city want to feel settled at a fast pace and that was indeed my thought process whilst getting by in my Belmont dorm.

I will say it again- it took 6 years to really understand what it means to makes friends who allow me to be me. It took multiple parties, coffeeshop meet-ups, front porch conversations and first impressions to get past the small talk. These interactions gave me the courage to create The Local Lady, an avenue to meet new people and share their stories of building a business from the ground up.

I would never wish away the hurt I went through- thinking there was something wrong with me and never knowing if I’d have friends that would stick around for the long haul because the people I have in my life now mean the world. Those I am lucky to know come from all walks of life, culture, personalities and sense of humor. They’ve taught me things about myself I need to both work on and embrace. And they’ve given me back the true joy that I’m positive God wanted me to wait patiently for.

If you’re in the middle of some transition (or not, that’s great!) you will find your place, I promise. It means more when the people are real and not just friendly faces in passing. So, thank you to the ones who were there leading up to 25. I truly feel loved and blessed to know you.

ibs.

Those of you not pictured below, you know who you are. ;)

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