To say that I was raised southern would be an understatement. Sweet tea, fried chicken, and college football are like a religion…if church didn’t exist, I’m pretty sure everyone would worship the football coaches (although some would argue that they do…).

And I love it.

I love my “drawl” (quotations because I definitely *do not* hear it…but apparently it’s there). I love wearing sundresses and drinking beer straight out of the bottle. I love tailgating. I love eating Sunday lunch in my church clothes. I love everything about being a southern gal.

But I was always kind of the black sheep of the family; during undergrad I fell head over heels in love with yoga. Instead of joining a sorority, I ran cross country (a sorority of its own, if you ask me). I consistently forgo barbecue for vegetables.

It makes me feel like kind of a condundrum.

Is it possible to have an ever growing affinity for Lilly Pulitzer *and* hang Tibetan Prayer Flags above my closet? Is it possible to “worship” something other than what we are taught is conventional God through yoga and still go to church (although admittedly I hardly made my Sunday appearances anymore)? Is it possible to sweat like a crazy person and then don pearls?

It’s, uh, kind of hard. Especially with outside pressure to be little miss perfect all. the. time.

To be fair, my family has become a lot more progressive over the past few years. But the boy’s parents? Yeah, not so much. And that makes me feel stressed. Like maybe I’m pretending at being a yogi or pretending at being a good southern girl like mama wants for her little boy.

I love who I am becoming. A more radical version of my past self; more able to love myself, be selfish in what I need, more able to balance the different compartments of my life. And, to be completely honest, I don’t usually bow to pressure of others’ conventions. That’s just never been who I am.

But all of these changes happening around me mean a new school, a new city, a new life. They also mean lots of outside input. About how I should live. About what I should do. About who I should talk to.

It also means explaining that eating lentils instead of beef is okay and having a consistent yoga practice does not make me a tree dwelling pagan hippie. It means explaining that I want to be healthy and sometimes that means not eating butter on top of my butter. It means explaining that just because I embrace a way of life that is different from how I was raised, I haven’t given up on my roots.

I shouldn’t feel the need to explain myself to the people around me, but sometimes I do. And that’s okay, so long as I can always look within and figure out what is really best for me.