If you love Memphis, she will love you right back.
In March 2015, I sat on the front steps of the University House where my PR writing class was held on the beautiful University of Arkansas campus. I had a decision to make. As a girl who lived and breathed collegiate athletics as a student worker in the athletic communications office, I had my heart set on a career that dealt with more of the same after I turned my tassel… or so I thought.
A little background! On a whim, I submitted my resume to Obsidian. I grew up about an hour away from the Bluff City, so Memphis seemed like a semi-familiar, safe bet if for some crazy reason I decided to forgo my sporty girl dreams. To my surprise, Obsidian called to set up a phone interview. It went really well – too well – so well that I could see myself as one of its summer interns. Not long after the phone interview, I completed a writing test for Obsidian by a floor-to-ceiling window in the Arkansas Union before I popped into a student government meeting. I was offered an internship with the firm a few days later.
So, there I was. Sitting on the front steps in my quintessential college girl attire – an oversized T-shirt and Nike shorts – discussing what I should do with my mom who was seven hours away. I could stay at Arkansas, become an athletic communications intern or take my talents across the Mighty Muddy. The idea of sitting at a desk with the nearest turf pellets being clear across town was a tough (and scary!) pill to swallow, but after much thought and a few tears shed in my former boss’s office, I realized the sports industry was simply not something that would work for me long term. The lack of work-life balance and crazy hours would undoubtedly hinder my ultimate dream of being a wife and mother someday. As a result, I did something I rarely ever do – I got out of my comfort zone and took a leap of faith. I packed everything I owned into my Altima Coupe and headed east two days after graduation. I was absolutely terrified. Fun fact: In an effort to calm my fears, the background on my iPhone read “Life begins at the end of your comfort zone.” Every little bit helps, right?
It didn’t take long for me to fall in love with Memphis. The people, the places, the food, the activity – it was all different than the picturesque, mountainous, booming college town I had just come from. But, Memphis’ imperfection made me love her even more.
Memphis oozes culture, history and grit. She doesn’t give up or give in. She is a work in progress. She doesn’t settle for the status quo. She fights and claws for improvements, even if they are small. Because the 901 isn’t the flashy perfection that other friends seemed to find in their first home after college, I didn’t have to look hard to find opportunities where little ol’ me could make a difference. Whether it be mentoring kids or playing softball alongside friends with disabilities (you didn’t think I would abandon sports altogether, did you?!), there are so many ways to spread goodness here. I’ve found that volunteering in a city that needs you is a surefire way to fill your soul with joy, and don’t we all need more of that?
May 2019 will make four years as a Memphian for me. To say I love this city would be an understatement. It’s given me people, things and opportunities (lookin’ at you Obsidian!) that I most certainly do not deserve. It has also seen me through the most challenging season of my life. Being able to fill my time with good, meaningful, impactful things that can help move this city forward allowed me to see the light at the end of the tunnel, and for that, I’m forever grateful.
In the “secret” bar above Bari at Overton Square, there’s a notebook for guests to write messages in. Flip through it, and you’ll find a one-sentence love letter to the 901 from me. It reads, “If you love Memphis, she will love you right back.” Nothing could be more true. She will far exceed your expectations if you just give her a chance. I’m so glad I did.
I choose Memphis! Here’s why.
I’m a proud native of Little Rock, Arkansas. But, I’m even more proud to call Memphis my new home. Life has a way of just working out for you, right? Well, that’s definitely been my experience, especially when I think about my swift and timely transition from the ‘501’ to the ‘901.’
Right out of college, I was eager to establish myself as a legit professional. I wanted the PR and communications world to know that I had arrived and was ready to prove myself. I was afforded amazing opportunities to advance my career throughout my 20s, and I’ll be forever grateful to all those who poured into me. But just as all good things must come to an end, I grew hungry for more professional opportunities, and I couldn’t readily find them in the great state of Arkansas. There entered the prospect of relocating somewhere that was not too far from home but just far enough that I could make a fresh start, while welcoming the onset of my 30s. That prospect turned out to be Memphis, Tennessee, in the form of Obsidian Public Relations.
More than the hype
Because Memphis is just, as they say, a hop, skip and a jump away from Little Rock (it’s slightly less than two hours away), I’d visited the city several times prior to relocating. And what I initially attributed to Memphis was good barbecue, the National Civil Rights Museum and the FedExForum — all of which are definitely worth the hype! But, I didn’t really appreciate everything Memphis had to offer until I made the move. For starters, there are so many positive changes brewing in Downtown Memphis. From new real estate deals to historic restorations to community transformations, I’m pretty siked to be able to say that I live and work Downtown. And then there’s Midtown — which is its own little community — where you can get a great cup of local coffee, eat a delicious meal and enjoy local entertainment. Hints the references to local — Memphians support local everything, and I appreciate that. Of course, I can’t forget about East Memphis and the suburban areas. Without those, I wouldn’t have great places to shop, so I show much love there too.
During my visits back to Little Rock, I’ve been asked if I regret relocating to Memphis, considering I moved here with no personal connections or direct ties to the city. My answer? Absolutely not! When I call Memphis my ‘new home,’ I mean that. It’s now been three years, and I’ve had a blast. Not only have I settled into a great career with a great group of ladies at Obsidian, I’ve picked up a boyfriend and a new church home along the way. What else does a girl need? I’d say I’m all set.
So yes, I do choose Memphis. It’s one of the best life choices I’ve made, and I look forward to what the future holds. 901 Shelby Drive look alive, look alive (in my best Drake voice)!