What is Home?
“I would define home as a safe place that thrives when filled with family and friends but also embraces the hardships life throws at you – and gets through them together. A part of me always feels like home is going to be Lafayette, IN because that is where our families are and that is where we grew up… I spent 23 years in that town! Outside of having family close, I am spoiled when it comes to the midwest. You can drive 3 hours any direction and can be in another state. Everytime I go home and drive through campus, it just feels right. BUT marrying a football coach I’m beginning to accept that moving is going to be our reality. Therefore, I have kind of adjusted my definition of home to be wherever Tyler is, and wherever we can be TOGETHER, Like that song – “Home is wherever I’m with you.”
Kenzie was born and raised in Lafayette, Indiana. Her parents divorced when she was in first grade and she was the only girl growing up with 1 biological brother and 5 step brothers. As Kenzie puts it, her family has had a huge impact on who she is today – from their giving hearts and willingness to help anyone who needed it.
“We lived well growing up but never beyond our means. My dad went straight into the workforce once graduating high school and has been with the same company ever since working in the automotive industry. My mom has an in home daycare, so growing up she was always around. I don’t really know if Indiana shaped who I am or if it was more so my friends and family that have shaped who I am. I am a first generation college student, graduating from Purdue University with a Bachelors of Science in Human Services. Through this major I was able to do an internship that led me to the wonderful world of college athletics. By growing up in Indiana, I was very fortunate to have all of my family close. My parents have huge hearts and would help anyone in need, and I think that is what led me to fall in love with college athletics. I love helping others succeed.”
Is Moving Away From Home For Everyone?
Like Kenzie, I am deeply grateful for my family. I am so thankful for what they taught me, and the love they have shown me since the day I was born. However, there is something to be said about the growth you gain if you are given the chance to move away from home. For Kenzie, her first time moving out of state was when she was 23 years old, to Knoxville, Tennessee.
“My move to Knoxville in 2019 was the first time that I have ever left Indiana. Having family down here helped the transition a ton and bringing my 115 pound teddy bear of a dog helped a lot too. The biggest lesson I have learned is to embrace where you are placed. Get to know the people and explore the city and you can easily make any place feel more like home. When you move you are able to expand and learn new things and I am always for that. But also I am a creature of habit and love being comfortable at places. So whether or not I think that people should move away from where they are raised really depends on the person and what they want out of life.”
Kenzie and I have been fortunate enough to have many conversations as our paths have crossed here in Knoxville – from race to politics to gender identity to everything in between. Coming from the midwest, Kenzie has never been one to shy away from what she doesn’t know, and won’t put the burden on you to teach her.
“The conversations we have shared have taught me SO MUCH and given me more insight to experiences I have never lived. I have definitely spoken out of turn and have had to go back and reword things I have said because I did not mean them in the way I presented them. An example of a time I have misspoke is that I often catch myself messing up by using non inclusive pronouns and just assuming gender. Change is complicated, but absolutely necessary if we want to spread more love and less hate. I understand I have privilege because of the color of my skin. I am learning and asking questions and I need to do better and do more action items to be the change. And learning on my OWN – it isn’t anyone else’s job to teach me and I am excited to continue growing in this area.”
Embrace Where You Are Planted.
No matter what age you are, relationship status, job title – change is hard. We all have places that will forever feel like home to us, and it can be difficult to leave those places if we are forced to. Kenzie reminds us all that there is so much beauty in embracing where your garden takes you.
“My favorite growth lesson that I have learned during my time here is how to be more independent. Since 2015 I have had Tyler by my side and prior to that I had my parents guiding the way. Now I am “on my own” (still living with family) to figure things out. I have become way less dependent on others and more of a problem solver. Embrace where you are planted. Meet others, learn from them, explore the new places, and have a positive attitude. Taking the leap and moving is not easy. But, it always works out in the end. When you move, it is solely on you to make or break the experience. You won’t be able to control every aspect of it, but you can find your people that will get you through.”
Water Your Garden, always.