my place in this world

Taylor Swift wrote A Place In This World when she was thirteen.

“I wrote this song when I was thirteen and had just moved to Nashville. It was tough trying to find out how I was going to get where I wanted to go. I knew where I wanted to be, but I just didn’t know how to get there. I’m really happy this is on the album, because I feel like I finally figured it out.” – Taylor Swift


How lucky for Taylor Swift feel like she finally figured things out at such an early age. I’m a ripe twenty-eight and have no idea where I belong. I guess, though, at thirteen, I did know. And then again at seventeen, twenty, twenty-four…it was around twenty-six when everything in my idealistic mindset that everything came crashing down. And yet, I remained strongly optimistic and even more sure of who I was. I may not have known my place, but I did know who I was (and still do). Whatever the “right place” looks like in the grander scheme of life is anyone’s guess (Well, except for God’s, because He knows all; I, however, do not, and so I blog on here and sing to myself about my wonderings.).


Twenty-seven was a colorful year. In short, it sucked. It was exciting for a conservative such as myself, exhilarating in a safe space, challenging in a somewhat easy environment, it was wild in a sensible fashion. It was all the things I was curious to see (well, not all the things, but I saw enough of things I’d been meaning to see). It was such a painful and yet joyous time. It was…it was a lot of things. I still have yet to put into words what September 2015 through January 2016 was. I’ve tried. I have 60,000 of rough draft of trying and yet I still don’t know. I got tired of hashing things out, trying to make sense of it all. And to be honest, I don’t know if it has to make sense, if I have to know. I feel the answers are inside, the vaguely-defined stuff I needed to learn, even if I cannot translate the feelings and final assessments into a nice, neat, tangible package. And now, to articulate it at this time seems to almost be a waste of time, or at least a project undeserving of my current focus and attention.


I’ve always been about finding the answers, having clarity, and getting everything down to the fundamental basics. Not only for my own self, but for the self that others see. Ever been in trouble and been told, “Explain yourself!”?  I’m rarely in trouble (What can I say, I was/am a good kid!) but I think it’s just because I always wanted to be able to feel comfortable with explaining myself, without fear of judgment or failure. No matter where I’ve been in life, that I-care-what-people-think place in my head has been a constant; it’s been the same.


But Nashville…Nashville is different. I surely must have lost my mind, though it strangely felt a lot like finding it, when I came to this place. I followed my heart (disclaimer: I also followed my head, I can’t help but be logical, and some outside-of-just-me factors had a significant influence). What’s here? Uncertainty is not somewhere I want to pitch my tent and set up camp. I’ve always known! I’ve always had a plan.


And yet, despite all the how-I’m-supposed-to-be, self-imposed rules, this new home is a place of liberation. It’s exciting! It isn’t a trip to start brand-new to become whoever I wanted to be. I’m me, a person I always will be. It isn’t a conquering of fear as I have always longed to venture outside the norm. It isn’t the place I see me making my millions, establishing Mellie’s Worldwide Emporium of All Things Unlimited & More, Incorporated. It is Nashville. And I have no clue what is in store for me here! It’s so scary – please do not get the wrong impression that all is 100% sunshine and rainbows – yet it isn’t scary in the crippling way that strikes a chord (cluster chord, those really unsettling near-tone cluster chords) of regret and terror. It is more akin to a feeling I had when I was fifteen. It’s funny how something from that many years ago, something you didn’t even remember was in your head, can resurface at the oddest of times.


I was fifteen. I knew at that time that in my life I’d do greater things than dating the boy on the football team, and that there was plenty I needed to figure out. A group of us from our tiny lil Christian school in the middle of nowhere were taking a trip to Santa Clarita, CA to visit Six Flags Magic Mountain. We all loaded up in minivans and SUVs, each driven by a teacher or one of the moms of the kids on the trip. I was unlucky-lucky to be in the front passenger seat of a driver who did not venture outside of our rural town and did not feel comfortable on anything larger than a two-lane highway. I will never forget when the lanes expanded. The terror in her eyes, reflected in her driving and confirmed in her audible prayers, spoke to me.

I knew in that moment that I had a choice, a choice to not be paralyzed by fear, an approach that actually made things more dangerous than they needed to be, but to embrace the unfamiliar, the unexplored, the unknown. I was going to not only brave the big city (if you can qualify Santa Clarita as a big city) but thrive in the big city. Life it too short, and if God is on my side, why should there be any worry? I’m not going to not live my life due to the fear of the unknown. In the worst-case scenario, which I would define as death, heaven is a welcomed detour off THE 405 (or now THE 40, cause for capitalization of THE to be revealed in a different blog post) anyway. Death is inevitable anyway so I may as well life the life I want to now, rather than wait until the end to decide to start living. And so, since fifteen, that’s been the rule: embrace life, don’t run from it just because it can be scary sometimes. I’m way more afraid of not knowing what was possible if I just stepped outside of the two-lane bubble in my highway analogy on life.


So here I am. 2,000 miles away. Hello, Nashville! I feel like I’m back in college again. This time, I’ve traded the ocean for some rivers, my French horn for a guitar, my dorm for an apartment, my student loans for grown-up bills (which include those student loans), and my Chevy Caprice for the more city-friendly Spark. I’m idealistic, bright-eyed, and eager to learn and grow. Nashville feels an awful lot like a a small town as opposed to a big city, but Vanguard was a tiny school as opposed to a ginormous institution. And yet I got the biggest education I could have ever asked for out of that place. I can only assume and proceed to believe the same will happen here, now.


I have no idea what you have for me, Nashville. I have no idea what I want. I don’t know if I even know if this is where I want to be. All I know is that I’m alone, on my own, and that I look forward to finding my place in this world. I’ll be strong, I’ll be wrong, I’ve got the radio on. I’m ready to fly.


I don’t know what I want, so don’t ask me
‘Cause I’m still trying to figure it out
Don’t know what’s down this road
I’m just walking
Trying to see through the rain coming down
Even though I’m not the only one, who feels
The way I do

I’m alone, on my own
And that’s all I know,
I’ll be strong, I’ll be wrong
Oh, but life goes on
Oh, I’m just a girl
Trying to find a place in this world

Got the radio on, my old blue jeans
And I’m wearing my heart on my sleeve
Feeling lucky today, got the sunshine
Could you tell me what more do I need?
And tomorrow’s just a mystery, oh yeah
But that’s okay

I’m alone, on my own
And that’s all I know,
I’ll be strong, I’ll be wrong
Oh, but life goes on
Oh, I’m just a girl
Trying to find a place in this world

Maybe I’m just a girl on a mission
But I’m ready to fly

I’m alone, on my own
And that’s all I know
Oh, I’ll be strong, I’ll be wrong
Oh, but life goes on
Oh, I’m alone, on my own
And that’s all I know
Oh, I’m just a girl
Trying to find a place in this world

Oh, I’m just a girl
Oh, I’m just a girl, oh, oh
Oh, I’m just a girl

Written by Robert Orrall, Taylor Swift • Copyright © Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC, Universal Music Publishing Group, Nettwerk One Music (canada)ltd

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