One of the stories I've told myself and others about St. Louis is you're never really that far from "the center" of a movement. If you want to get involved with [insert topic here] and start going to meetups of whatever the group does, it won't be all that long before you'll start to meet people closer to its center and if you ask, likely find yourself a part of it. This has proved itself out for me on multiple occasions.
When making the case for St. Louis compared to a New York, Los Angeles or San Francisco, I've often used the story about being a small fish in a gigantic pond vs. a slightly bigger fish in a smaller pond here. I get the sense its easier to feel like you're having an impact here than in a larger environment. There is no harm in going to a place like New York, although I think people who have heard me tell the story would say I threw in a little contempt during it, but this has been part of my case for choosing a place like STL.
Last night I pulled up an episode of Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee with Lorne Michaels, founder of SNL. At one point in the show, Jerry asked him, "Why do you like New York so much?" To which Lorne replied, "The thing about New York is, whoever you are, you're not that important." What struck me about that statement, was it took my small fish in a gigantic pond story and turned it from a weakness into a point of pride or opportunity. So much of the way I tell the story is about being important, impactful or having a bit of a sense of the city's overall mood and direction. My version is about not being a number and lost in the masses. Lorne's comment made me have to think about that from the other side. If I'm not important and therefore less visible, is it easier for me to do whatever I want?
This took me to thinking about artists and entrepreneurs in a bigger city vs my own. Particularly, it took me to the point of self-expression, failure and creativity. One of the things I've heard people say and have thought before about St. Louis is you may want to be a little mindful about what you say and do because people are more likely to notice and remember. There are dramatically fewer people and less going on so what I do may be noticed and remembered a bit more. It leaves me thinking, is one of the keys to daring greatly or taking a risk not mattering? "Since nobody is paying attention or really cares about what I do, I might as well try this thing."
If we feel more visible and vulnerable, I suppose one of the things I have to be mindful of is, "how important do I want to be vs. how much am I willing to not care what other people think?"
Go Forth Boldly