Should I Have Gone To An SEC School?

I'm southern.

Well, I grew up in Nashville, Tennessee as the child of two Iranian immigrants. My entire life, I've been combating that internal conflict. Do I get to call myself southern? My mom never cooked a honey-baked ham with biscuits in the morning. My dad never took me hunting on a Sunday afternoon. I never went to church, tailgated a football game, or frequented the Country Music Awards. All my friends did, but not me.

It's not that I wasn't able to attend these events or end my Wednesday night service with a trip to Chick-Fil-A with my youth group. It's that I never wanted to. I was always teased for being the most "liberal" in my friend group; everyone expected that I would eventually move to New York or Chicago or Seattle and that they would see hell freeze over before I chose a school with an established football team and a sense of Greek life. But, I began to wonder, should I have gone to an SEC (Southeastern Conference) school? I was one of the few people in my grade who decided to venture out of the south and seek new experiences, but that didn't stop the very real case of FOMO I got from their Snapchat stories, Instagram videos, and Facebook updates.

It got to the point where I got so homesick, I thought the only person who understands how I felt was the naked cowboy in Times Square. My search history was filled with "cheap flights to Nashville" and "best southern bars and food in New York." I missed something I had never had. I wanted to feel what my friends did every night. 

My friends are constantly pushing me to visit, saying that I would love their school, promising that it would be like a foreign country. They tell me that girls chase their alcohol with La Croix. That they start partying as early as 1 PM on the weekend. That there are straight boys at their school. These are all the things I do not see at The New School. I started to doubt my decisions. Should I transfer? Would I be happier in the south? Or does it just sound appealing because it's so different from what has been established at the norm for me now?

Should I trade NYFW for a frat party? The East Village for the French Quarter? Running into people like Stanley Tucci on my way to class for being in class with my school's star quarterback? Hermes for Honky Tonk?

I realized that I would not even be as half as happy at a southern school than I would in New York. There was never a defining moment where I realized I was a New Yorker. It wasn't the time I got into a fight with a massive rat in Herald Square, or when I stole my first cab from a man who needed it more than me. I was always a New Yorker; I just hadn't lived there yet. I promised myself when I was six that I would move here, and I did what chubby, young me wanted, but I never once questioned if that was for me. I molded myself to become a New Yorker, and it was the best decision I ever made because without that, I wouldn't have the chance to meet ghost designers for famous brands, bump into runway models on the street, or sneak into fashion week.

It's not that New York is better than the south, it's that it's the lifestyle I wanted and still want. The people here and in the south are the same; the parties are the same, the classes are the same, everything in these two spheres are the same, I'm just happier here than I would be anywhere else. I'm not saying that I'm better than anybody because I'm a New Yorker, or that I have a superiority complex (I mean I do, but that's not the point). But what I am saying is that if I were in the south right now, I would have sold my arm just to be in Times Square (the only part of New York I hate). I guess the grass will always be greener on the other side, but I'm glad my grass is in Central Park and not covered in red solo cups.