Not so long ago, I was one of those Memphians. You know the type. They have nothing good to say about the Bluff City, but theywill go to blows if an outsider dare say a word about our hometown. They can’t stand Memphis for X, Y and Z reasons, BUT “it’ll always be home” due to A, B and C reasons.
I grew up in what started out as the boonies, transitioned into the suburbs and eventually became the wrong side of the tracks. Many times growing up, friends or dates would come out to my dad’s house and wonder if they were going to make it out of there without getting shot. It took roughly 30 minutes to get anywhere, and with nothing to go do in the general neighborhood around my home, it was very easy to develop a “there’s nothing to do here” mindset. With little knowledge of any of the goings-on in town and the plethora of bad news on the nightly news, I had always held an “I can’t wait to get out of here and move on to somewhere better” frame of mind. That is until roughly the past few years or so.
With a new mayor in office, I moved into Midtown on Dec. 29, 2010, just in time for a brand-new year. I always held fond memories of Midtown since I was a teenager, and it truly was the only area of town where I really felt at home. In August 2012, I began my first internship, which would become my first and best job with Obsidian PR. Through my final semester at The University of Memphis and my work at Obsidian, I became more aware of the various professional and civic organizations in town. I became more aware of all the various events, shows and festivals that go on in town over the course of the year. I became more aware of the small businesses and nonprofits that are hard at work to help make Memphis and our people better. I became more aware, more engaged and more knowledgeable about all the amazing things my hometown has to offer. I’m not exactly sure when it happened, but somehow my tune changed to “This is my town, this is my pretty awesome town, and I want to be part of making it more awesome!”
So why exactly is Memphis awesome in my book? Here are just a few good reasons:
- We are grit and grind.
For years, even decades, Memphis has been the proverbial underdog, whether you’re talking about the sporting world, professional world, etc. Memphis has been looked to for Elvis, barbecue and very little else, but for Memphians, we’ve always wanted more, and we’re finally starting to see it. Whether it’s local businesses receiving accolades from national publications, the Grizzlies being name THENo. 1 team in sports by ESPN or Memphis being named one of the best cities in the country for artists, the hustle is finally starting to pay off.
- We are worth being respected.
With higher education institutions the caliber of UT’s med school, Rhodes College, Southern College of Optometry, Christian Brothers University, and of course my alma mater, The University of Memphis, we are a center of higher learning. With hospitals like St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, The Regional Medical Center at Memphis, Le Bonheur Children’s Hospital, and the Baptist, Methodist and St. Francis systems, we have some of the most highly trained medical professionals in the world right here in our hometown. And with Fortune 500 companies based here in Memphis such as FedEx, AutoZone and International Paper, we have some of the greatest professional minds in business that call themselves Memphians.
- There is so much to do here!
From Broadway shows to operas, ballets, art shows, street festivals, music festivals, food festivals, free music and events in Overton Park, concerts featuring every genre of music, sporting events, book signings, fairs, networking events, museums, parks, 5Ks, block parties, pop-up events, outdoor activities and more, you really have to avoid encountering any local print, TV or digital media to think that there is nothing to do in this city. Grab a Go Memphis, Memphis Flyer, look at I Love Memphis blog or even Get Down Memphis, and see all that this city has to offer.
Doesn’t all of that sound pretty darn awesome? Yes, there’s still crime and poverty and other social issues, but you’re going to find those to an extent anywhere. “Yeah, but they’re not as bad as Memphis.” Really? Most every moderate to large city out there has areas of town you wouldn’t want to be caught walking around in alone at 10 at night. Other towns are filing bankruptcy and dealing with economic issues. Other towns have bad news. Memphis isn’t unique in any of these aspects, so quit harping on about them. If a reformed hater can learn to love this underdog of a town, can’t you? ^_^