by Britt Chester

It’s an undeniable truth that we all change. We change the way we dress for certain occasions depending on how we want to Britt Chester be perceived. We change the way we think based on provided evidence. We change the way we conduct ourselves around professional peers, close friends and loved ones. It’s a constant change, a necessary growth that allows us to move forward.

I’ve been living in North Carolina for one year, almost to the day. It’s been quite a season of change for me coming from Denver, Colorado “” North Carolina has all four seasons of weather with smooth transitions, unlike Colorado, which offers hot, dry sunny days and blistering cold ones. It’s pretty black and white, much like my opinions, but I’m becoming more accepting of the grey areas in life.

North Carolina has a lot of great industries, especially the increasing popularity of craft beer in the Triad. Coming from Colorado, I’ve long been a fan of what I consider to be “limited edition” beers. Seeing new places like IIX Tribes opening up in High Point, Hoots Roller Bar and Beer Company in Winston-Salem, and even Gibbs Hundred Brewing in Greensboro gives me hope that my whistle will remain wet. This, to me, is also a sign of economic growth. It shows a renewed hope coming from entrepreneurs who believe so strongly in their dream that they are willing to risk whatever it takes to succeed. I like that characteristic in a city.

The same-sex marriage debate, or crisis, depending on what side of the religious spectrum you stand with, has thankfully passed. Male-identifying humans can marry other male-identifying humans, and the same goes for female-identifying humans. How and why it took so long to allow this is beyond me, but I was also born in the mid-80s when nu-wave music was sweeping the Top 10 charts, and I certainly can’t explain that unlikely phenomenon.

The adjustment to North Carolina has been easy, thanks in part to a loving girlfriend and the fact that my immediate family is nearby. It’s been astonishing to me that southern hospitality is actually real and not just something that people not from the south make references to when they talk about men holding doors and mothers cooking delicious biscuits. Growing up in a pastor’s home, I learned to always look for the dime behind the nickel “” the hidden truth in everything “” and it’s made me quite skeptical of southern hospitality.

Are they really being nice? Are their intentions pure? Does this politician really mean what he is saying? If cigarettes are really bad for you, why do I see doctors and nurses standing outside hospitals smoking? If I vote to pass this bond, will I really see where the money goes from tax dollars?

It’s been dangerous living that way, mostly because my trust in people extends only as far as their past actions. Placing that blind trust in North Carolina when I decided to live here has more than paid off, though. Even though my decision to move here wasn’t exactly my choice: I was in a position where I felt stuck unless I left. I felt stuck working in a field where I wasn’t making enough money to survive. I felt stuck portraying someone that wasn’t really me. I felt like I had nowhere to go except down.

I can’t sit here and say that I’ve been at the same bottom where others have. I would never try to compare my situation to anyone else’s, mainly because we all have our own definition of failure and success. I was in a situation where I was fortunate to have supportive parents. I had a solid group of friends that lent me a hand when I needed, and they didn’t expect anything in return.

Since then, a lot has changed. I’ve continued writing, albeit freelance, for various outlets all over the country. I’ve covered music for digital outlets, health insurance for print magazines, news and arts for local outlets, and just about anything I could get my name on anywhere else on the Internet. It’s been a good change, for me, and it’s opened up doors that otherwise I would have never even bothered knocking on.

I’ve been able to see a very healthy growth in myself, as well as in the area around me. By opening up myself to new friends, associates, and subjects for news stories, I’ve been able to really learn more about the community, and in turn, more about myself.

I’ve learned that struggling artists in Winston-Salem often have to work two jobs just so they can go home and pour themselves out on a canvas, only to perhaps never sell one piece of art in a gallery because people think it’s too provocative (that provocative image came from the mind of the person who probably served you dinner, who you tipped, and therefor supported his/ her artistic movement.) I’ve learned that musicians who gig at area bars can also teach in public schools about gang violence. I’ve learned that racism on college campuses does not go overlooked, and when students come together to talk about it, the result is progress and open mindedness.

I won’t always accept change, though I’d like to think that I would, given the successful track record I’ve had with it so far. I will, however, continue to roll with the punches, inserting my thoughts and opinions based on my experiences and knowledge whenever I can, and probably coming out on the other side being a better person with more wisdom to share. I will probably buck growth in myself – kick and scream when I don’t get my way – and argue the horns off a bull for the sake of not admitting I was wrong. And in the end, whatever inevitable change has occurred within me or around me, will make me a better person.

In the meantime, I’ll be walking around the city streets meeting new people who come from different places than I. And I’ll be sure to bring my umbrella, because if there is one thing I have to love about change, it is the unexpected occurrences that prove to be so rewarding. !