Stepping Into My Fear of the Unknown - Interview with Heather Meek
1. What series of events most informed who you are today?
When I was 14, I went to Nashville for the first time. I didn’t listen to country music, but as a family, we decided to go to a 4-day country music festival. Looking back, I now know that this trip was taken because we’d just lost my maternal grandmother—and my own mother, in her grief, was looking for ways to seize the moment. This was an adventure, a bonding experience, and a life-changing event for me. I fell in love with the genre, the city, the people, everything. I set my sights on going to college and eventually moving to Nashville to work in the country music industry. And that’s exactly what I did, for a short time. Then I met a boy—a real, genuine, bonafide country boy. And suddenly, my story became less about pretending to be “country” in a song, and more about actually living and knowing the life of what it means to be a true person in the country. As I struggled with this dichotomy, I started a blog and through that, was reintroduced to my original passion— writing. A year ago, a writers’ colony started over the hill from our home and I was offered a position as the Assistant Director. I’m one of two employees, it’s just me and my boss, and together, we strive to empower writers of all backgrounds through the hospitality and learning opportunities we offer there. My life has veered onto a strange and different path than I ever expected, but I’m so grateful for the twists and turns.
What is one thing you wish more people knew about you?
I’m an introvert, but there’s so much more inside me. While I’m still on this journey of learning how to convey the wild woman inside, I know she’s there. She comes through in my blog—she has opinions and a voice that only seem to shine through when I’ve had enough time to process them through my writing. So I guess, I wish more people knew about my writing and actually read it, because then I think they’d stand a better chance of knowing who I am and what I stand for, because I rarely share it out loud.
Can you tell us a story about when you felt silenced?
When I actually made the move to Nashville, it was so much harder than I’d anticipated. I thought that pursuing my dreams would be ensured by a set of simple 1-2-3 steps. But it didn’t work like that. I started my college career at Belmont University, a school that’s notorious for attracting every talented music business—oriented wannabe in the country. I was put in a dorm room with a roommate who wouldn’t speak to me and I was incredibly homesick. The truth is, I wasn’t silenced by anyone or anything, but my own fear of the unknown, and while I found a way to make friends and create opportunities for myself, I think my own lack of confidence held me back from bigger and better things. But we can’t dwell on the past, and I have to believe that everything happened the way it did for a reason. In fact, I know that it did.
Tell us about a time that made you roar.
So it sounds kind of silly, but I love watching “The Bachelor”. And I love watching it because I truly believe that it has the capability to spark a lot of conversation about our culture, social issues, race issues, etc. Last season’s bachelor was Colton Underwood, whose virginity defined his storyline. It was all anyone would talk about. And, because I’m a girl who never really dated around or had any sexual experiences until well into my 20s, I began to become really offended by folks’ obsession with it. I knew I couldn’t be the only person out there who felt devalued by the conversations dominating the television and the internet, so I wrote a blog post about it—about how our sexual experiences shouldn’t have to define us or be compulsory to our self worth. It felt like a big risk to talk about this on a platform where my parents, close friends, and co-workers could read it, but it felt necessary. It made me feel brave, strong, and worthy as a writer. And it began to define a sort of theme for the kind of writing I want to continue to create.
What are you learning about stepping into your power?
It’s all about Risk. You have to be willing to take risks in order to fulfill your true self and create the life you want to live. I’m not one to speak up often, but I’ve found that I have a voice inside of me that comes to the forefront when it needs to. And scary as it is to let that voice roar, the times that I’ve let it have changed my life. They’ve saved my relationships, my mental health, and my career opportunities, and they’ve allowed me to make strides in understanding who I want to be as a human being and as a woman. What I’m discovering is that, most often, being a woman is not about being delicate or pretty. It’s about being a total badass, getting your hands dirty, letting your scars show, and sharing your opinions. The woman that I want to be shouldn’t have to be Instagram-perfect. And I think it’s ridiculous that so many voices can be silenced simply because we’re not “pretty” enough to catch anyone’s attention in a photo.
What would you say to your eight year old self?
Heather, this is gonna be a shitty year (and yes, it’s okay to say “shit”). Your body is going to start changing any day now, and it’s going to look different from every other girl’s body for at least another five years. But don’t let that get you down. Keep being a child. Open yourself up to everybody you can. Your best friend won’t be your best friend forever; in fact she’ll break your heart before high school. But keep being her friend, keep building your tribe, keep being your own unique, quirky self. When passion strikes you, pursue it. Pursue it with more ardor than I did, because 20 years from now, you’ll be grateful you did. Love yourself, Heather, and know that someone is coming who will love you just for you. He won’t show up for a long time, but that doesn’t make you any less valuable as a woman. You are beautiful. You are capable. And you are going to do great things.
Heather Meek is the Assistant Director at Rockvale Writers’ Colony and writes for her personal blog, A Necessary Rebrand (www.anecessaryrebrand.com), which focuses on her initial transition from city to country and the changes we make throughout our lives as our passions and intentions transition us into the women we’re meant to be. Once destined to work behind-the-scenes of the famed Music Row in Nashville, she now lives with her boyfriend and 9 goats in a cabin on a horse farm in College Grove, Tennessee.