I assumed that going to school in the “south” would consist of other people who said the word y’all, ate breakfast tacos and grits, and knew what going tubing on a river referred to. I did not consider that others would not know where I was coming from either. In retrospect, I shouldn’t have been so ignorant, especially for the fact that Emory is one of the most diverse private schools in the United States. I did not realize, however, that others would not understand where I was coming from.
“Oh my god, you say “y’all” ??”
“You’re from Texas? Did you ride horses to school?”
“Where is San Antonio?”
These are all questions that I was asked on a regular basis my freshman year at Emory. But now, I should be an insider within the Emory community, yes? According to “Power and Positionality: Negotiating Insider/Outsider Status Within and Across Cultures,” being an insider has both negative and positive aspects, just like being an outsider does. However, I feel as though being an insider, especially in research purposes, is often decided by those who are being studied. From their perspective, you are relatable or not– from their point of view are you allotted to be known as an insider to a community.
I cannot help but attempt to compare this to the Emory community. Are we allowed to call ourselves insiders? What makes us insiders in Druid Hills, if we are only here for a specified amount of time? I know that I can identify at least in some sense with those from Atlanta, although I must not know everything about it, of course. But I wouldn’t exactly refer to myself as an ultimate insider– yet simultaneously I would not call myself an outsider either. I know what it is like to live here. As I have spent almost four years here, I understand what the culture is like. Yet when I go home, I do think that I have lost at least some percentage of my ability to connect with its “Homeness.”
After being somewhat embarrassed after being poked at by my new friends in regards to my contractions, I made a conscious effort to lessen my “gonnas” “wannas” and “y’alls.” But now, I cannot help but think that this caused a conscious effort to be less of an insider from home– less of a Texan, and less of who I am or who I grew up as. The definition of an insider and an outsider is more of the “and” column of a venn diagram than anything else. This gray area is one of fluidity, based on one’s own perspective along with the others’ that surround us. I think in many instances, we can represent both characteristics of an insider as well as an outsider. I can be both an outsider here in Atlanta because I did not grow up here and many not share opinions or even memories from before, however I can also be an insider as I have learned and grown on my own here as well. In Texas, I feel like I will forever be a proud insider, but may currently be somewhat of an outsider because of how I have been separated.