It’s been 10 months since I moved to the Republic of Texas from the Sunshine State. 10 whole months of living in Texas, U.S.A.
So, in honor of those 10 months, here’s 10 of the best lessons I’m learning while I’m here:
(accompanied by related excerpts from my favorite quote by Marianne Williamson)
“Don’t Mess with Texas.”
“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure…”
Texans have nerve. Even the most passive of natives that I have met since moving here have been quick to defend Texas as the greatest state on earth. Texas Pride is a real thing, folks. And you don’t dare mess with it.
It’s really ironic that the girl who’s greatest pet peeve is arrogance and who perpetually struggles with confidence ended up in the proudest state of them all. It’s almost like God was up to something funny…
Side note: Texans are some of the only folks I know who actually wear apparel that promotes their own state. (Seriously, Florida folks: Have you ever bought anything that says “I ❤ Florida” from a tourist shop at the Turnpike station? Me neither.)
“The Stars and Stripes are out Tonight (CLAP CLAP CLAP CLAP) Deep in the Heart of Texas!”
“…It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, and fabulous?”
Teaching my students here at Texas A&M has been one of the most rewarding experiences of my life. It’s awakened gifts and strengths of mine that I forgot I even had. I’ve been affirmed by students and faculty in ways that I had never been affirmed before.
During my first semester, I felt highly inadequate to teach students who were basically my age (or even older). But, with time, I felt myself grow more confident in my ability to connect with students and meet their needs. My students and advising professors have helped to light a fire deep in my heart, and it grows brighter every day that I am put in front of a class audience.
“Keep Austin Weird.”
“…Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God…”
This saying makes me laugh every time I hear it. For my non-geography literate friends back home, Austin is the capital of the Republic. It’s also referred to as the most liberal part of Texas. And yes, this means the people of Austin are often referred to as hippies, yuppies, and just plain weird by everyone else. Yet, the saying remains: “Keep. Austin. Weird.” Who really wants to change Austin? No one. (Well, no one has said it out loud anyways.)
There are parts of us that are just plain weird, and we should embrace these parts. This probably sounds like the end to a Dr. Seuss book. But, sometimes
we I need to remember to appreciate our my weirdness, because God made me and loves me this way.
“Everything’s Bigger in Texas.”
“…Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people will not feel insecure around you…”
…So there’s this magical place called Buc-ee’s. It’s like Wal-Mart and Cracker Barrel gave birth to a gas station that grew up to serve the people of south Texas like no one has ever served them before. At Buc-ee’s, you can buy a 48 oz drink, a deli sandwich, a grill, various Texas-themed furniture, some homemade “beaver nuggets,” an outdoor fireplace, and a Buc-ee’s T-shirt or stuffed animal all while filling up your pickup truck! What a deal!
But seriously. Buc-ee’s would not be near as great if it tried to “play it small” for all of the surrounding gas stations…
“The Road Goes on Forever and The Party Never Ends.”
“…We are all meant to shine, as children do…”
RED DIRT MUSIC. It’s like the country music I’ve been listening to my entire life was a lie, or the Diet Coke version compared to the real deal (I love Diet Coke, but follow me here).
Fiddles and string music mixed with classic rock sounds make for great dancing music. And even though I can’t hardly dance 5 seconds straight without looking around to see who’s judging my lack of rhythm, listening and dancing to red dirt music has made me feel really young (which is a big deal when you were born with an old soul). No matter where I end up, I hope to take this genre with me just to remember the joy of being 23 years old and feeling like I was 18.
“You may all go to hell, and I will go to Texas.”
“…We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us…”
Harsh words, Davy Crockett. (He said them, not me.) I’m just going to emphasize Davy’s audacity and courage here, because that’s what I think of when I hear this saying or read it on people’s bumper stickers. Similar to the Texas Pride idea, I know that my time in Texas is teaching me how to live out what I say I believe, unashamedly and without apologizing for it. (I’m likely to say “I’m sorry” for breathing wrong around you, so this is huge.)
“The eyes of Texas are upon you…”
“…It is not just in some of us; it is in everyone…”
While I have been in Texas, the state has faced an Ebola outbreak, devastating flooding, and currently Tropical Storm Bill. And while I admit to being absolutely terrified at various times (I mean, I read “The Hot Zone.” I drive a low-riding Toyota Camry. I have every right to be afraid), facing these fears alongside my fellow Texans has made me realize how important community is.
During #Ebola2014, I can remember crying in my office one morning because I FULLY believed that my recent trip to Dallas had spread the outbreak and I was going to single-handedly take down all of Texas A&M with me. My dear friend and office mate calmed me down and reminded me that I wasn’t the only person to visit Dallas that weekend. This is the same friend who also offers to drive me around town whenever it’s too rainy for my liking. God has provided her and others to take care of me, and I am forever grateful to them.
“Remember the Alamo.”
“…and as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give others permission to do the same…”
My office mate once told me that she highly supports Texas seceding from the Union at any point. There’s something to be said about an educated Texas college student who thinks secession makes sense.
Going hand-in-hand with Texas Pride is Texas Independence. Independence is attractive. Strength is attractive. It’s something to be celebrated and admired. I somehow missed this truth during my formative years when it seemed better to demonstrate dependence and weakness to the boys I dated. I think I thought that being independent meant I would end up alone. But that’s hardly the case. Being independent only attracts others because they are attracted to your strength.
“The Texas Sky is the biggest one I’ve seen, but it still ain’t big enough for you and me.”
“…As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”
I can remember listening to Miranda Lambert’s “New Strings” over and over again during my first week here in Texas. The song talks about leaving a doubtful boy and loving parents behind for a new adventure. At the time I could relate all too well to the song, but I really kept it on repeat just so that I could remind myself of all the possibilities ahead of me.
When people ask me about moving back home to Florida, I usually say something like “yes, eventually.” But, to be absolutely honest, I feel too liberated to ever consider moving back forever and always.
I can’t really tell you how much longer I will be here in Texas. Some days I find myself longing for Florida, longing for the family and friends I left behind, longing for ocean views within an hour’s drive, and longing for the ever so incredible PUB SUB.
…But on other days, I just can’t imagine myself ever leaving.