A week ago I was back in my home town for my fantasy football draft. This got me thinking…
Growing up in a small town prepared me for life. That being said….
You learned to be an individual.
Every one knew who you were. Your teachers, neighbors, and basically anyone you ran into at the store identified you as your own person. You never felt like someone in the crowd, and that individual confidence can do wonders in your adult life.
Living in a small town causes you to be generally optimistic of the intentions of other people.
The actual crime rates were so low in your town that the most malicious criminals that the City Police and Sheriff hunted down were the local kids on Halloween. Yes, I admit I was part of a crime statistic. I confess, I was one of a few that put the chicken in the Superintendent’s car. That chicken shit all over in his car. The best part was we did not have to clean it. We just had to pay to have it done. To this day, I still say it was the best $7 I have ever spent; in spite of the eight hours of community service I had to perform.
Needless to say, your parents never feared that your gallivanting around the neighborhood would result in abduction. However, it may result in a few friends riding bike through town naked on a double dog dare. I can still see my friends Mike and Kelly peddling through town with Rollie (Town Police) spotlighting them the whole way back to the camper. Though it’s important to be realistic about others, having an overall positive view of others is beneficial and that is produced in small towns.
You became extremely well rounded.
Everyone could do everything in high school because there were more involvements than there were students. You were probably something like a singing , football playing , class president. It gave you the abilities to excel in a variation of ways and to not feel that you only fit in one small category of talent.
As you become an adult, this made being able to handle change and allowed you to fall into any role necessary – a valuable skill.
You gained an appreciation for tradition.
There were a number of traditional events that some people complained about but no one would ever miss, like parades, jock races or fireworks. Living in a small town gave you a natural sentimental notion towards tradition and community.
You learned very early about the consequences of making the wrong choices.
You couldn’t get away with anything. Everyone in your school would know, even the teachers. Your parents (in my case – my father – always found out as he was a teacher) would probably find out as well. You never had the opportunity to hurt others or make mistakes and still avoid the penalty. As an adult you probably know very clearly what it means to be held accountable for your actions. You also learned to think a little more before making them thanks to that accountablity.
You grew to understand the true definition of loyalty.
Small towns make for the best and most loyal fan bases. They live for local sports and mom-and-pop restaurants. High school basketball is the NBA. High school football is the NFL. You understood what it meant to be part of a giant family of support. You could complain all you wanted about the quirks of your town or school, but everyone who comes from a small town knows where the true loyalty lies.
You established deep and lasting friendships.
The people that were your best friends in your graduation photos were probably also in photos of you all playing on the swing set when you were eight years old. You learned how to grow along side other people and conquer different stages of life together.
Because you couldn’t just ditch your friends when your relationships became unstable, you nurtured an ability to sustain future relationships with others. You learned about compromise and the importance of maintaining your connection with the people in your life, and that is something that you still carry with you.
You absorbed the ability to find joy in the little things in life.
Living in a small town taught you how to become very excited about simple happiness. A new business coming to town was a tremendously exciting occasion. Being in the local paper made you an instant celebrity. Having a beautiful day inspired just about everyone you knew to be outside in their front yards. Small towns naturally give you an appreciation for the moments that were simple and easy, and yet brought you countless smiles.
You always understood the importance of family and still do.
To most people in your small town, family was probably very important. Most of your parents came to watch your football, basketball, volleyball, softball or baseball games. Many parents carpooled together.
Everyone knew your parents and your siblings, and you were constantly connected to them. In my case, my brother was always right there – thus why we called him Tick. I would not change it for the world now, even if it was annoying when you were trying to be cool with friends!
Though you may have moved somewhere distant after your small town days, the depth of your love for your family never wavered. Growing up surrounded by other families and by your own is incredibly beneficial for you later in life. The good, the bad, the laughter, and the tears, all contribute to the adult that you have become and the family that you will build.
You will always have a place to truly call home.
After living in a small town, we all need to get out for a little while. We have to learn about other cultures and traditions to establish an appreciation for the world that we couldn’t gain in our hometown. Whether you end up moving home eventually or not, one thing is for certain; you will always have a home in your heart.
One of the most important lessons that small towns teach you is the notion of home and of a place where you belong. Life can be a whirlwind of opportunities and changes in your life, but there is something truly rewarding about knowing you always have somewhere to call home.