Growing up, I just assumed that my town was normal. It never occurred to me that to an outsider, small town life might seem pretty weird. Since leaving home, it's become clear that things that were regular to me seem strange to everyone else. Looking back, there are many aspects of small town life that are... unique. If you grew up in a small town, these will sound very familiar.
1. Nobody has heard of your town.
Whenever people ask where you’re from, you give them the name of the nearest big city. Chances are that no one ends up where you live unless they’re lost or visiting relatives for Christmas.
2. You’ve had same group of friends your whole life.
The friends that sat next to you at your high school graduation are probably the same friends you played with at recess in the second grade. You’ve grown up together and experienced everything together, forming an unbreakable bond for the rest of your lives.
3. Driving around is something people do for fun, not just a way to travel.
You've spent countless hours in the car with your friends; not driving to go anywhere, just driving to drive. In small towns, driving around with the radio blasting is a popular form of entertainment. Since you live in the middle of nowhere, there are plenty of places to drive with your friends in search of your next adventure.
4. You can walk to all of your friend’s houses.
Everything in your town is within a few miles of your house. It makes it really convenient when you want to see your friends, because you can just walk a block or two to their house.
5. You know all of your neighbors.
As it turns out, most people don’t actually know their neighbors that well. But in a small town, everybody knows everybody. Which means no, you can’t have a party while your parents are gone, because Mrs. Smith next door will call your parents.
6. You know everyone in your graduating class.
Not only do you know your neighbors, but you basically know everyone in your town. You’ve gone to school with the same people since kindergarten, so you know their siblings, their parents, and their second cousin.
7. New people are really exciting.
Seeing as you've grown up with the same people since you were in diapers, new students or neighbors always created a buzz.
8. Teachers refer to you by your older sibling's name.
Your teacher has had all of your older siblings and probably your parents in class. Whether your sibling was the class clown or the class genius, your teacher will expect the same from you no matter how different the two of you may be.
9. You run into at least five people you know at any given public place.
Running to the grocery store to pick up milk for dinner turns into a 30-minute ordeal because you have to stop and talk to everybody that you know. Which is probably everybody.
10. Everybody has dated everybody.
You’re all swimming in the same small pond with the same couple of fish. There’s a high probability that more than one person in your friend group has dated the same person. Who’s also probably the same person you shared a mat with during nap time in preschool.
11. Your town has a sport.
Most likely football or basketball. It doesn’t matter how old someone is -- you can guarantee that they’re a die-hard fan. The star players on your town’s team are also the most popular kids in school. Win or lose, your whole town revolves around this sports team.
12. Friday nights are spent at the stadium.
If anyone drove through your town on a Friday night, it would look like a ghost town, because everyone is on the field or the court to watch the game. Sports are not just a past time in small towns -- they’re a religion.
13. You can identify the owner of most of the cars you see.
The red van? Oh, Julie and her family must be here. The silver pickup that’s double parked? Yep, that’s your friend’s ex-boyfriend.
14. A store parking lot serves as your go-to meet/hang-out spot.
When you're meeting up with a group to go somewhere, it's just accepted that you'll be meeting at "the" parking lot. You know exactly who is going out that night by the cars in the parking lot.
15. Everyone goes to the same place to eat.
Every small town has its own delicious diner. “Going out to eat” means driving down the road to this place. It’s a great place to go with family or friends, but never go on a date here -- unless you want to eat next to your fourth grade teacher.
16. You frequently get stuck behind tractors on the road.
Some people are late because the trains were behind schedule. Some people complain about traffic. But in a small town, if you’re late, there’s a good chance that you got stuck behind a tractor. People never seem to believe me when I tell them that people do, in fact, drive tractors on the highway.
17. All of the roads in your town are one lane.
Unless a major highway runs through your town, the rest of the roads are probably one lane, making it extra annoying when you get stuck behind a tractor.
18. Anything “fun” is at least 20 minutes away.
For fun on the weekends, you’re forced to drive 20 plus minutes to the nearest town. Once there, you can choose from a few restaurants, a mall, and maybe a movie theater.
19. Everyone knows everyone's secrets.
Gossip spreads like wildfire in small towns. You know everything about everyone -- but they know everything about you, too.
20. You've probably been featured in the local paper.
Mr. White's class is going on a field trip to the fire station? Better call the press! Nothing eventful ever happens in your town, so chances are that you've been featured on the front page. The top stories usually consist of either local sports or school plays.
21. The annual town festival is the highlight of the summer.
Anyone who's anyone will be at the summer fair. The same Ferris wheel you were terrified to go on as a child is probably the same one where you had your awkward first kiss. You know which vendor has the best lemon shake-ups and which ride operators will let you skip to the front of the line.
22. It will always feel like home.
No matter how far away you go to college or where you end up moving later in life, your town will always be your home.