Nature vs. Nurture. You can have the argument all day. And certainly, there are parts of who we are that come from genetics and other parts from family influence. But there’s no denying that we absorb a great deal from our surroundings – be it accents, tastes or just ways of thinking, where we are from makes a difference. I’ve lived a lot of places and traveled the world, but Virginia is where I always land. Maybe it’s just because of who I am, but I like to think that it’s also because of who Virginia has made me. Here are a few of the things I’ve learned along the way growing up as a Virginian.
1. Work Hard.
Nothing worth having in life comes without some hard work. The greatest men and women in Virginia put in the time to get the results. And there’s no better way to show gratitude than to follow their example.
2. Play Hard.
When your work is done, there’s nothing wrong with having a good time. If there’s one thing we know how to do in Virginia, it’s kick off our shoes and have some fun.
3. Manners Count.
Growing up, we actually called it “Virginia Manners.” You watch your mouth, show respect for your elders, always say “yes, ma’am”, “no, sir”, “please” and “thank you” and never, ever chew with your mouth open (I’m looking at you, little brother). These are simple lessons that have served me well. In Virginia Beach, where this picture was taken, it’s against the law to curse in the street. See? Virginia Manners in action.
4. Family is always there.
At the end of the day, it’s your family that’s always there. Whether it’s blood or choice that makes a family, they’re the ones that will always pick you up when you fall.
5. Challenge the status quo.
The greatest accomplishments have been made by the ones who were willing to question the old ways of doing things and suggest that just maybe, there’s a better way. Thank you, Maggie Walker (1864-1934, first female bank president of any race, Richmond).
6. Keep your eyes on the road.
Learn to drive the back roads of Virginia and you’ll be ready for anything.
7. Fight for what you believe.
(Patrick Henry, Hanover County, 1736-1799) Sometimes you have to just stand up and tell the world what you think. We have a long, proud tradition of standing up for what we believe in – and the world is a better place because of it.
8. Just when it seems like winter will never end, spring is just around the corner.
This is true for the weather, but also true in life. Nothing bad lasts forever and sometimes it’s the coldest months that make us appreciate the sunshine that much more.
9. Appreciate life.
Every day is gift. And that is something I will never forget.
10. It’s not always the biggest person that makes the biggest impact.
Little girls can do great things.
11. Be happy.
Happiness is a choice. And even on a bad day, the right song – and maybe the right pair of shoes – can turn everything around.
12. Be thankful for the sacrifices of others.
It’s easy to take what we have for granted. But always remember that our freedom comes at a cost. Show gratitude every day.
13. Do what you love.
Tap dance on the streets if that’s what makes you happy! Someone will notice – maybe even the whole world. (Bill “Bojangles” Robinson, 1878-1949, discovered busking in Richmond before becoming a star.)
14. There are few things in life that Mother Nature can’t fix.
Sometimes, the only therapy we need is a walk in the woods or a day on the beach.
15. Just keep swimming. You’ll get there.
No matter how big the ocean, there’s always a shore.
16. Take the road less traveled. It might just be the ride of your life.
Sometimes it’s the detours in life that turn out to be the best time we’ve ever had.
17. Lighten up. A good joke can go a long way.
Mark Cline created Foamhenge, a life-size styrofoam replica of Stonehenge, in Natural Bridge as an April Fool's joke in 2004. Little did he know how much it would catch on.
Stonehenge came a year after he put dinosaurs all over his hometown of Glasgow, also on April Fool's Day.
The Glasgow Dinos went to live at Dinosaur Kingdom which is gone now, due to a 2012 fire. But they had a good ride. The moral of the story? We have the rest of our lives to be adults. Take any chance you get to be a kid again.
18. You’re never too old to play dress up.
Step outside of your reality for just a moment. You might just learn something.
19. Sometimes you want to be where everybody knows your name. Sometimes you don’t. Both are ok.
Virginia is all about community. Small towns. Close-knit neighborhoods. Block parties and great friends. But sometimes we just need to be alone. In Virginia, we have the chance to do both. Embrace it.
20. There’s never a wrong time to dance.
21. Always shoot for the moon. You never know what might happen.
22. Being a Virginian is one of the best things you can be.
I mean, let’s be honest, we have a lot to be thankful for as Virginians…and more than enough reasons to be proud.
You can argue nature vs. nurture all day. But the fact remains, you learn a lot from the place where you’re from – whether you were born there or adopted it as your own. So thank you, Virginia. I think I turned out all right. What are the lessons that Virginia has taught you?