Proust Interview: Courtney Naughton
Author: Linda S. Hopkins
Call her a Yankee. But it won’t be long now before the Bluffton state of mind transforms another fast-talking “foreigner” to a genuine southern belle. Prior to her southern migration, Courtney Naughton earned her undergraduate degree in social work and a master’s in corporate communication, after which she worked in PR and special events for non-profit organizations. Moving to South Carolina from New Jersey, it’s been four and a half years since she traded her 80-mile, one-way commute to work for a five-mile drive to her office in Palmetto Bluff, where she serves as marketing manager.
While she has discovered that the world spins a little slower here in the south, she hasn’t forgotten how to get it in gear when it counts. Describing herself as funny and serious, she said, “It’s one or the other with me. It’s either time to get down to business or let’s have some fun.” At Palmetto Bluff, it’s mostly business, but a pleasant place to do it. “This is the perfect job, working in paradise,” said Courtney. Every day is a juggling routine—dealing with the Web site and print materials, working with the advertising agency and PR firm and coordinating community events. “There’s no typical day, which is what keeps me engaged. I don’t like to be bored,” she added.
To insure herself against any possibility of a dull moment, Courtney teaches public speaking at both USCB and TCL; in her spare time, she writes for local publications. “The combination of all of my jobs allows me to be creative, but I have to be super organized,” she said. “I like to pretend that I’m carefree, but…”
Task-oriented, articulate and efficient, some people are surprised to learn that Courtney is also very sensitive. “I often say I’m like an M&M,” she said. “I have a hard exterior, which sometimes is off-putting (and down here, people chalk it up to me being a Yankee). But on the inside, I’m really quite a softy.”
For now, she’s as happy as May River oyster before harvest. “When I first moved here, every time I would go back home, I would wait for this wave of longing. It never came,” said Courtney. “I realize that this is home.
“I am not quite sure what I want to be when I grow up,” she continued, “but I have been writing a book, and I have convinced myself that I will sell it, it will become a movie, and I will retire on the profits. I’m obviously a glass-half-full kind of girl!”
What is your idea of perfect happiness?
My boat. May River. Sunset. Moonrise.
What is your greatest fear?
What is the trait you most deplore in yourself?
I over-think everything. Wait, should that be my answer?
What is the trait you most deplore in others?
Not giving 100 percent.
What is your greatest extravagance?
My 35th birthday present to myself, and my 36th birthday present to myself. Come to think of it, I can’t wait for my 37th.
What is your current state of mind?
I guess it is a Bluffton state of mind.
On what occasion do you lie?
I am brutally honest always and sometimes to my detriment.
What do you dislike most about your appearance?
Which living person do you most despise?
Despise may be a little strong, but regardless I doubt he wants his name in print.
What do you most value in your friends?
Honesty. Laughter. Listening.
What or who is the greatest love of your life?
My nieces, Erin and EmmaKate.
When and where were you happiest?
I am just starting to discover who I really am, and that makes me pretty happy.
If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be?
To stop second-guessing myself.
What do you consider your greatest achievement?
Teaching at the college level; sometimes I am still surprised that they “let” me.
Where would you like to live?
If I were independently wealthy, I’d split my time between Maine and a tropical island somewhere. Since I’m not, I am happy where I am.
What is your most treasured possession?
My Great Great Aunt Mary’s ring.
What is your favorite occupation?
Right now I juggle three occupations—marketing manager, professor, and writer. I love them all for different reasons, and combined they make my life very full.
What is your most marked characteristic?
Who are your favorite writers?
Jodi Picoult, David Sedaris, Rick Reilly, John Grogan
Which historical figure do you most identify with?
“The Unsinkable” Molly Brown
What is it that you most dislike?
What is your greatest regret?
Um, how much room do you have? I’ve made many mistakes; I just appreciate that they have all led me to where I am today.
Which talent would you most like to have?
I’d love to be able to dance before four drinks.
How would you like to die?
With enough time to tell my mom and sister how very much I love them.
What is your motto?
“People may not remember what you said, they may not remember what you did, but they will remember how you made them feel.”