Friday, May 24, 2013

Midwest identity confusion in an East Coast world

I am a Midwest girl living in an East Coast world. I have often found my midwest upbringing at conflict with my East Coast living. I have been out here eight years and there are many factors I'm sure that make my perceptions incorrect; however, I'm going to share them anyway. First, a lot has changed in society in the last decade, I only have one experience with Midwest youth verse East Coast youth, and I was a child in the Midwest and an adult out here.  I have a love for both places. But these perceptions are also based on what I hear from both sides because as someone trapped between the two worlds I often hear one's attack on the other.

I was discussing the other day with a coworker the difference of image between these two totally different parts of our country. And yes they are very much different worlds sometimes. I see it with my students and I have started to see it with parents, but this obsession with projecting this perfected image. To the point of people (young and old) being more concerned about the image that others have of them than of the truth of who they really are. And sorry but in the Midwest the East Coast is kind of known for it's arrogant, my shit don't stink, look down their nose attitude. So I wonder if this is an East Coast thing with thinking they need to fulfill this perfect idea because they think they're better or just a change in the last decade nationwide, probably as a result of social media.

Whereas, the Midwest always tends to be looked at as these rough around the edges, sometimes rebel without a cause, I don't really give a shit what you or anyone else thinks kind of people. Sometimes I think that's a defense mechanism because they feel looked down upon by the coastal people. I don't feel that they get as wrapped up in this "perfected" image ideal of today. In fact they kind of wear the "i'm imperfect but real" image around with pride the same way the East Coast wears "I'm perfect and my way is right" around with pride. Both are very proud of who they are.

But whatever the case is, I just know I don't want my girls to feel they have to measure up to some perfected idea. I don't want them to feel they have to lie or cheat or ever pretend to be something they are not. I see way too many girls in my years of teaching that have eating disorders, serious mental issues that require instiutionalization because they have this inner battle with measuring up to some image they feel they have to fulfill. I want them to be honest about who they are and be proud of it.

The East Coast tends to be all about being "right" and so does the Midwest, most the time on things that are the opposite of the East Coast. But the Midwest has a hard time letting go of old ideals we'll say and moving forward with change. They aren't as open minded or accepting of diversity; whereas, the East Coast is really truly the melting pot of the world (in my opinion anyway). This experience and acceptance of so many different cultures is one of the things that makes me excited to raise my girls out here. People come from all over the world to this very region. It is rich in opportunties and experiences even with its flaws.

They are both great places but whatever reason each always feels the need to attack the other. They each have different things to offer-great things- but neither is perfect or without their flaws. Sometimes I love the rush, rush, fast pace of the East, but at other times I miss the slower, quiter life of the Midwest. Many times I find the East too fancy and sophisticated for my taste and miss the simplicity of Midwest life.

So here I am a Midwest girl trapped in an East Coast world. There are things I love and dislike about both, and I want my girls to experience and have the influences of both. And maybe one day I won't feel the same, but at this time I identify with the Midwest me more so than the East Coast me. The Midwest may say I have become too East Coasty and lost my Midwest identity; whereas, the East Coast peeps may not truly see me as one of them, which I am okay with because to me I am still and always will be a Midwest girl (just an  East Coast version) but no matter which me you think you see take it or leave it because that's just me.


  1. I actually think there is more to it. Like - the Midwest is pretty big and the mindset changes depending on where you go. I live near Chicago - part of the Midwest - but it's very "worry about your image, must be perfect" here. But travel 3 hours from the city and you have the laid back rough around the edges life.

    And I have nothing against the East Coast!

  2. I love Chicago! I grew up thirty minutes northeast of Kansas City. Chicago is about the only city in the Midwest I can convince my husband in considering to move to one day. We finally just moved out of Baltimore City after spending almost eight years of city living between DC and Baltimore back into small town living of a town of about 7500 people but we're still only 45 minutes from the Inner Harbor of Baltimore. I really do have a love for both places. Really I would just spend my life traveling to a whole bunch of regions if I could.

    1. I'm about an hour from the city. I think its perfect - close enough to go for day trips to the great museums and culture, but far enough away to have a smallish town suburbia feel. Not quite the urban city, but not quiet farm towns either.