Southern Belle in Training

Fashion, Travel & Lifestyle Blog || Est. 2012 || Virginia Beach, VA

July 19, 2019

On Going Home...

     After work this afternoon I'm headed to the airport, and I'll get to spend 10 days at home in Maine for my summer vacation. I have a few personal thoughts/ramblings to share about my trip home that I wanted to share today- I know that y'all usually enjoy my more personal blog posts.

    I am a native Mainer through and through. I was born there, raised there, and my parents and mom's extended family are still there. I actually had never moved in my life until I went to college- same house and everything. My views towards my hometown / home state have shifted a lot through the years. When I was very young, I loved being from Maine. I liked all four seasons, and I could never imagine leaving home someday. I have a distinct memory of telling my mom that I wanted to still live at home for college and commute to the public university closest to my hometown when I was grown up. Speaking of school- I was homeschooled for most of my childhood and I loved it!

    When I was in middle school, I went through some family stuff. It's not anything that I've ever discussed on the blog before and probably never will, but I started developing bad anxiety around this time. The good thing that came out of these years was that I accepted Christ in middle school at a youth group retreat (although that's a blog post for another day!). My parents and I made the mutual decision that I would go to a school for high school. I had a terrible two month stint to start off 9th grade in a very small local Christian school (the school didn't end up surviving more than a few years)- and then I began public high school in November of my 9th grade year. I was initially so excited about it! While I did love being homeschooled, I'd always dreamed of having typical high school experiences like being on a sports team and going to prom.

    High school ended up being the worst years of my life. My anxiety got really severe, and for the beginning part of 11th grade I also struggled with depression. I really didn't have many friends until 12th grade. The first three years brought severe struggles to find friends. For most of 9th grade, I would actually eat lunch in the hallways by myself. I was still a new kid then, and for the first several weeks I tried sitting at random tables in the cafeteria, but the other students would usually just ignore me. High school was also a very tough time for me to feel confident in my beliefs. To my knowledge, I was the only Christian student in my graduating class. A lot of the people I had classes with didn't seem to have much of a moral character, and most were raised by parents that didn't have a lot of rules. That made it hard for me to relate to a lot of people in my class, and my anxiety didn't help either. Since making friends didn't come easily, I would get so nervous and probably overcompensate my personality when someone at school would finally talk to me, so I'm sure I came across pretty weird. Severe anxiety like I had at the time will do that! Aside from friend issues, I also never dated anyone in high school, and I was constantly upset about that and comparing myself to others. Looking back, there weren't any guys that I actually would've wanted to date... but despite that I was still always bummed about not having a boyfriend! (My first date was near the end of senior year.)

     9th grade was really rough, but then things got  temporarily better in 10th grade when I joined the JV volleyball team and made a a new best friend that was a year younger than me... but we had a terrible falling out at the start of my 11th grade year. To this day I'm still not entirely sure what caused the falling out or why that girl cut me off. But it was one of the most painful things I've ever gone through. (I actually wrote a blog post about that in 2015!) By 12th grade I did finally make a new best friend and have a small friend circle, but at that point I was so fed up with high school, and it really tainted my views of Maine. I started dreaming of going to college far away from the only home I'd known. I wanted a fresh start. A place where it would be easy to make friends, and easy to find other college students who shared my faith. A place with a totally different culture from small town New England. A place where I could heal privately from some family things in my past. And a place that didn't have rough winters- I'd gotten pretty sick of snow by the time I was nearing the end of high school!

    So that all is what lead me to choosing to go to school in North Carolina and then becoming a "Southern Belle in Training".... I started this blog on my 18th birthday, right after beginning college! But today's post isn't about my love affair with the South or my blogging journey, it's about my relationship with home. I went home each summer while I was in college and worked in retail in the popular tourist town of Kennebunkport. While I loved the summer job that I had those years, my summers spent home from college were overall really tough. I missed the South more than I can put into words, and I would miss the confidence and newfound life that I had at college. When I'd run into people from high school while home those summers, it would often trigger severe anxiety. I'd feel like the insecure and lonely high school girl again. I would always fight my mom on this, but she encouraged me see a counselor each summer in college that I'd go home so I'd have a safe place to talk about everything that I'd bee feeling and experiencing (I wish now I'd been more accepting of it!). Since graduating college three years ago, I've been home only a couple times a year, and always just for long weekends- never more than a few days at a time. It felt suffocating to be home for longer then that. I could get past the pain of the past when I was in Charlotte, but as soon as I'd come home it would all come back full force.

     During the year that I lived in Vermont, my relationship with home changed a bit. I was able to make two weekend trips home during the summer I lived there, and those few days in Maine were the highlight of the year. That was mainly due to the fact that I really didn't like Vermont, so getting to go anywhere else was great, but it was that year that I finally started to see home in a different light. I started to be thankful for growing up in a safe small town. I began to truly appreciate Maine's natural and rural beauty. I stopped seeing my hometown as "boring and depressing" and instead as "charming and peaceful." At this point it was about five years past when I had first moved away to college- so it definitely took a lot of time for my mindset to switch! And I think it's only continued to get better since I've been here in Virginia.

     Today, I leave for a 10 day trip home to Kennebunk. This will most likely be my only trip home this year- so I'm doing one bigger trip instead of a couple long weekends. It's the longest period of time that I've been home in three years. Am I nervous? No! Quite the opposite- I'm excited! I am truly ready on this trip to move past my past. I'm no longer embarrassed of being from small town Maine, I'm instead proud to be a Maine girl in the South! I'm not interested in dwelling on the tough circumstances that happened to me at home in years past- instead I'm ready to focus on all of the blessings. I have two incredibly giving and loving parents to spend quality time with, I get to see the beautiful new home that my best friend just bought (her first one!), and I also get to spend time with a  select few wonderful friends as well. While I will be taking a blogging break during the trip, I'm excited to photograph everything and start drafting ideas for Travel Guides to share my home with y'all on the blog in August! As of this time, I don't ever see myself calling Maine my current home in the future (Ireally  do love the South!), but for now at least I'm finally very proud to say that's where I'm from. 😊

     Speaking of next week- I will be taking a full blogging and blog social media break starting later today! I've never taken over a week off in almost seven years of blogging, and I think this will be so needed. I'm excited to feel very present and in the moment during my trip, and also to do some reevaluating towards blogging and where I see Southern Belle in Training going in year seven! I have some wonderful blogging friends that are guest posting for me next week while I'm gone- so be sure to still check back here next week.

     Talk to y'all soon, and thanks for reading this very personal post! P.S. back in Summer 2015 I did a fun blog post series about my favorite places in my hometown. You can check out those posts here.

     God Bless,

     xoxo Annaliese



  1. I am so sorry you went through such a tough time, friend! My freshman year of high school was AWFUL too! Luckily my college experience was great. I have struggled with anxiety and depression and it really is so hard. I am proud of you for sharing and being open though. I would love to hear your testimony on accepting Christ. I hope you have a nice time in Maine. I’ve never been, but heard it’s gorgeous.

  2. I hope you have an amazing vacation.

    - Genevieve


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