I moved to Chattanooga last July for my first job out of grad school. My family used to visit when we lived in Atlanta back in the early 2000s, but we hadn’t visited the city for longer than 24 hours in over a decade. I knew the city had changed drastically since our last trip.
Even though I was excited for a new adventure, I might as well have been moving here blindly. My only tie to the city of Chattanooga was my new job; my other loose tie to the state of Tennessee was my college boyfriend. Now, a year later, all I’ve got is the job.
It sounds dismal when I write it that way, and for a little while it was hard. I had my quarter-life crisis, even though I didn’t believe they existed, and questioned if Chattanooga was the right place for me, if I was meant to be here.
Today I can confidently say I’m in the right place. Chattanooga is where I need to be.
Chattanooga is a city full of opportunity. If you have an idea and a burning desire to make something happen, there is someone in this city who will help you do it. Everyone wants everyone to succeed. The entrepreneurial and startup community here is proof of that. I’m so lucky to be a part of it.
I’ve never been the super outdoorsy type; I enjoyed a good hike or day on the water every now and then. Since moving here, I’ve had an insatiable thirst to get outside and explore. That’s easy to do around here with all of the hiking trails within an hour of downtown. Venture a little farther and there’s even more. From popular spots like Foster Falls, to hidden gems like “Paradise” on Mowbray Mountain, there’s always somewhere to climb some rocks and splash in a swimming hole. Maybe it’s time to finally break down and buy a pair of Chacos.
When I need my zen time, you’ll find me on a paddle board on the river. It’s the perfect way to wind down after a busy day at work, or just to get a good outdoors workout on the weekend. Perhaps I’ll be racing in the ChattaJack next year.
As long as I’ve had my blog, I’ve always said I’d never be a food blogger or fall into the foodie trap. That didn’t last long once I moved here. For a small city, Chattanooga is packed with restaurants and eateries to fit all tastes and cuisines. I may be a regular at some places (looking at y’all, Flying Squirrel and Community Pie), but that will never stop me from checking out a new place or attempting to broaden my culinary horizons (looking at you, Brewhaus). New restaurant opening? Food truck fair? Count me in. And then read about it on my blog.
Beyond the stunning scenery, outdoor adventures, irresistible food scene, incredible career opportunities, festivals and special events, what gets me most is the indescribable sense of community and passion the people of Chattanooga have for their city. It’s addicting. One of the tour guides at the Tennessee Stillhouse (another place I tend to frequent) said once that people from Chattanooga are proud to be from Chattanooga, and they make no bones about letting people know that. I’m falling into that spirit myself, and I’m very okay with it.
I may not know a lot about soccer, but you’ll find me at every home CFC match cheering my loudest. For me, it’s about more than just the soccer. It’s about witnessing the people of the city coming together for a Saturday night under the lights in Finley Stadium and cheering for the hometown team. I’ll never forget the match after the July 16th shootings, hearing the Chattahooligans sing “Anchors Aweigh” and “The Marine’s Hymn” in tribute to the servicemen who died. I might have teared up a little.
We also packed Finley Stadium with more than 18,000 people for an amateur soccer match. That was pretty cool. And I’m getting better about learning more about soccer itself. Progress!
Chattanooga has changed a lot in the last 20 years, and there’s still more coming. The potential is bubbling, the spirit is palpable and the future is bright as the sun’s reflection on the Tennessee River on a summer afternoon.
I really could not have landed in a better place fresh out of grad school. So many of the opportunities I’ve been blessed with here, I know I wouldn’t have gotten in any other place. I may not be a native, but damn am I proud to call myself a Chattanoogan.
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