It's Cool, We Promise


Matthew Bolian

If you haven't heard it yet, you will: "There is nothing to do around here. I can't wait to move somewhere else."

That is complete nonsense. Why would you listen to me? Well, I am the antithesis of brain drain. I didn't leave Jackson never to return; I left Jackson only to realize how awesome it really is despite the fact I lived in "destination" places.

I went to college in New York and got my master's in London, England. So, why do I want to move back to Jackson after living in places that are supposedly so much better?

For me, the answer to that question can't be condensed to a list of where to eat or party (which Jackpedia and the Best of Jackson already do anyway) because the essence of Jackson is so much more than just places.

First, let's talk people. There is no doubt about it: Jacksonians are some of the friendliest and most welcoming people in the world. You can start up a conversation anywhere—elevator, bench, bar, church—and at any time, day or night, and people will talk to you. But they do more: They listen to you and your story.

People here are just nicer. If you don't believe me, try this test in London and Jackson and compare the results: Walk up to a random stranger and ask for help.

At this point you might say, "So the people are great, but that doesn't change the fact that Jackson is boring." That is hogwash! Sure, technically there are more "things" to do in other cities, but the capital city has plenty of places to go and events to attend to keep you entertained. Boredom in Jackson is an attitude, not a reality. Period.

Let's say you agree with me so far about great people in Jackson and more than enough cool things to see and do, but now you start wondering about jobs and money. You think, "Other cities have more openings for jobs, and they pay better." Those statements are not necessarily true.

One of the traits that makes Jackson awesome is also one reason people assume Jackson is boring. This city has much room for development. People with negative attitudes might spin and call Jackson underdeveloped. I ascribe to a different belief; I call it opportunity.

Young people in Jackson with big dreams, unwavering determination and a strong work ethic can effect positive change. In Jackson, you can make your mark. It is much harder to do that in other cities.

Yes, jobs in other cities might pay better, but the cities also have a higher cost of living. Take another look at high-paying jobs in places like L.A. or Chicago. You might actually be making less money there—thanks to expensive facets of life like commuting, competitive rents and cost of utilities—than if you were living and working in Jackson in a similar position.

I am in no way discouraging new experiences. I lived outside my hometown for five years, and I think I am better for it. My point is that life in Jackson is vibrant and full of potential. I am excited to be a part of Jackson's renaissance and even more thrilled to be part of it with you. To get started, use this JFP intern-generated guide to the city and visit http://www.jackpedia.com.

Intern Matt Bolian is a full-time redhead, Christian, husband, property developer (http://www.blackwhitedevelopment.com) and Army officer who loves ultimate frisbee, tacos and dreaming BIG.

See the definitive guide for college students and newcomers to Jackson at Jackpedia.com


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