11 Sure Signs You Grew Up in the South

11 Sure Signs You Grew Up in the South

You can try to suppress the impulse, but "y'all" still comes out on the reg like a tic.

By Lindsay Tigar

No matter how far away you roam, from California to New York and everything in between, if you grew up in the Southern states, you might have a hard time kickin’ your habits. It’s not your fault — bless your heart — but when you’re raised by Southern parents who instill certain values and traditions from birth, it can be tough to adopt a new mentality and lifestyle. Regardless if you called North Carolina or Texas home, when you meet people from other parts of the country and world, they might automatically know you’re not from their parts based on how you act, what you eat, and what you say. As if your thick drawl isn’t enough, these signs give your home state away right from the start:

1. You try your best, but you keep saying y’all.

While New Yorkers might say "you guys," when you address multiple people in the South, y’all is the only word to use. And though you might try to clean up your vocabulary when you move away or visit another place, if you’re really tired (or ahem, tipsy) — y’all will find its way right back to your language.

2. You love wearing colors.

Ever check out a Southern style blogger? Or searched for Southern style on Pinterest? While black might be considered a staple for most closets, if you grew up in the South, you likely have at least five shirts for every color. (And a matching accessory and pair of shoes to go with them.)

3. You smile at people.

Even if you don’t exactly know so-and-so’s name or can’t, for the life of ya, remember how you met that person down at the Stop & Go, if you pass them, you smile. Or wave. And maybe, say "hi’ and ask how their granny is doing in the nursing home. It takes forever to go anywhere in the South, and your friends might say the same about your personal timeline too... especially since you can’t help but smile at everyone you see.

4. You can’t understand people who don’t have good manners.

Holding doors for people and mindin’ your P’s and Q’s is so ingrained into your daily life, you can’t imagine not being kind. Or generous. Or helpful. So when other people slam into you without apologizing, let the door fall in your face, or say somethin’ mighty nasty about someone else, you can’t help but be visibly appalled.

5. You love being barefoot.

Summers in the South always meant a few things for you as a kid: playing the backyard while you caught fireflies (or as you called them, "lightin’ bugs") to put in mason jars, heading to the lake or beach to go fishin’, and spending as much time outdoors as possible. Even if you live in a big city now, the first thing you do as soon as you get home is take off your shoes. You spent your childhood being barefoot outside, and shoes just feel unnecessarily restricting as an adult. (Just try to keep them on at the office or the airport, k?)

6. You like big hair and you just don’t care.

There’s a sayin’ in the South (and one the Dolly Parton swears by) that the bigger the hair, the closer to God. You might straighten your hair these days, but you likely still care about volume. And your relatives when they come to visit and meet your friends? They might be a little shocked by their bigger-than-life (and stiff-as-a-board-with-hairspray) looks.

7. You just can’t wear white after Labor Day.

It might be okay by the Fashion Police, but your mama? She’d disown you if she saw you sportin’ white about Labor Day. So, you just don’t. You just can’t.

8. You’re always having to explain what you mean.

You call a cart a buggy. You say you have a hankerin’ for something. You throw salt over your left shoulder. Though your language and traditions might make sense to anyone who grew up in the South, you might need to catch everyone else up on the lingo.

9. The mere mention of flurries freaks you out.

Okay, so some parts of the South definitely do get snow (we’re lookin’ at you, Boone, NC!), but generally speaking, part of the appeal of living down South is not having to deal with snow. That’s why the very mention of flurries was enough to freak out your parents and get you out of school for a few days. If you moved to a place that has tons of snow, it might have taken some getting used to (and required quite the shopping trip for real boots instead of cute ones).

10. You have strong opinions about barbecue.

It might actually irritate you when people try to use barbecue as a verb, since you know it’s a noun... and made with vinegar (or mayo or honey, depending where you were raised).

11. You only know how to cook for a lot of people.

Chances are you’re the friend who came up with the idea for a supper club for your group of friends because you love to cook. And you’re the friend who brings so much food to a potluck or a party that your pals ask if you meant to cook for an army of people. Since you always grew up with extended families, big gatherings and after-church get-togethers, it’s tough for you to cook small portions.

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