Itty bitty one-stoplight towns; Humble people living humbler lives. What a place they have in my heart. It’s the where and who of what I come from.
It’s been nearly 2 whole years since I wrote anything down about where I come from and I realized this weekend as I was standing ankle deep in shit in my Topshop booties, hand feeding my gentle giant Angus bull, Black Jack, that there’s roughly 25,000 of you that probably have absolutely no idea. Yep, that’s right, you confused mass of readers; I’m not from Georgia. I’m happily settled in the heart of that great state currently, but the south is not where I gained the inability to speak without using “y’all”. Nope, as a matter of fact, I come by a small dose of twang pretty honestly. Speak to anyone from small town southern Indiana and you’ll understand where I’m coming from.
Before I was Candidly Chan, the social influencer, I was a lot of other things. I was Chan, the friend of many. I was Excuse Me, Miss Nehrt, who was probably talking during class. I was ChanBam16, the outside hitter. I was also NEHRT, the outside hitter who screwed up a play. I was “that little blonde girl from Crothersville” to a lot of people in Jackson County. I was “ChanRenee16”, the Instagram account that no longer exists. I was Sweets to my momma and Alabama to my daddy. I was later “DeHart’s girl” and the latter three are the only ones I still (proudly) carry with me and answer to.
Now, before you decide that you don’t have any interest in learning who I was before Instagram and click out of this post, don’t. This has something to do with you too (I hope), I promise. I read way too many books to write a story that doesn’t come full damn circle.
Okay, so about where I come from. How should I even put this? Have you ever heard a country song about
A. bonfire parties in a corn field
B. driving around cuz there aint shit to do
C. dying famous in a small town
D. knowing every single person and their middle name and their lineage and whether or not they went to church last Sunday
E. all of the above?
Yeah, been there, lived that.
If you’re not picking up what I’m putting down (hint: you should be by now), my roots run a little different than those of your average style blogger. I didn’t grow up in sunny LA and I’ve only walked the timeless streets of New York once. Although, believe me, I am not here to throw shade at those people. The versatility of people in this industry is something I admire and this is simply my own crooked journey into it. I grew up barefoot climbing trees at the farm, riding fourwheelers with the boys, rope swinging into muddy water, playing sports all day all year, going to bonfire parties, and driving around because there really isn’t shit to do. And guess what, y’all?
I wouldn’t change that for the world.
I truly believe you have to have spent some time in a place like mine to really appreciate the irreplaceable value of a humble life and what that entails. Kinda like how you really appreciate a small bottle of water after you’ve been baling hay or driving a tractor in the 100 degree sun all day. Kidding, sorta. And yes, I can drive a tractor. It’s a completely acceptable form of transportation where I’m from and also most kids learn that sorta thing around say, age 8. But I know, small town life tends to get a bad rep nowadays. It’s not the ~trendy~ way to live and I’ve heard the phrase “hilljack” thrown around nastily one too many times in my life. Let me ask you though, have ever met a totally genuine human being and thought wow, if only the whole world was full of people like them. How about this- have you ever met a whole county of them?
Okay, before my soapbox gets so high that I can’t get down off of it, let me get to my point. I LOVE the town I grew up in. I LOVE the simple way of life and the values it instilled in me. I LOVE the people there and their kind hearts. I LOVE the wide open spaces and the antique stores and the single stoplight and the fields and what I learned about hard work and Jesus and dreaming. And guess what?
I couldn’t leave soon enough.
Growing up the way I did made me realize that while I would have a happy life staying in my little town and having a job and a family and all, it wasn’t nearly enough for me to be completely honest. I’ve never been one to dream small and I knew that somehow, I had to leave and see more of what this life had to offer. And that’s exactly what I’m doing now.
I’ve seen this happen time and time again- everyone has an excuse for why they can’t leave or why they can’t go do exactly what it is they want to do. I’m no Matt Foley or life coach, but I’m here to tell you that you can. Where you come from doesn’t define who you are and it definitely doesn’t define what you have to do with yourself. You have one life and I think it would be an absolute crime if you didn’t squeeze every single bit of experience out of it that you can. I’m not saying you have to go sail the world in two years, although if you are planning such a venture, hit me up. I’m going with you. I’m not saying that you have to move across the country and find yourself. I’m just saying that if you feel held back or like you’re selling yourself short on any front, fix it. Change it. I’ve been there. I feel you. Just whatever it is that you want really bad, even if it’s simple, get up and go get it. Like, yesterday. This is just a gentle (I’m shoving you) reminder to be absolutely steadfast in the pursuit of what sets your soul on fire.
I’m neither a poet, nor a plagiarizing bandit. I saw that quote on Pinterest, loved it, and I sincerely apologize if you are reading this and you were the first to say those powerful words. And if you’re someone younger than me that is reading this that maybe isn’t doing the whole “adulting” thing yet (lol, because I still iron clothes with a blowdryer sometimes), don’t ever believe an excuse for why you can’t go get your dream life right off the bat. Don’t let anyone tell you you’re too young. That’s BS. Why not GO and DO and love the hell out of all of it while you’re young and able and have a fresh start? It’s the only perfect opportunity in my opinion.
Anyhow, I will always hold my little town and all of the people there so dearly in my heart and I know eventually… I will go back. There are just opportunities and experiences elsewhere right now that I wouldn’t miss for the world. Never settle for less than everything you want from this life. Are you listening to me?
Whew. Okay, that’s all for now folks. Regular style programming will resume in my next post. Thank you SO MUCH for following along and being half the reason I can pursue this career. Y’all are the shiz.