I went to a high school with about 1,200 students, in a town of about 4,000 people, counting down the days until I could leave. This one goes out to everyone who grew up in a small town with big aspirations.
Everyone will know your name, and your business.Giphy
Being in such a small community has its perks. When great things happen for you, people talk about it. When you decide where you're going to college (Cats by 90, by the way), when you get a new job, when you earn an award or recognition, or any other achievement you make. The people in your town will talk about it and many times even personally congratulate you. However, sometimes this perk can turn into a downside whenever bad things happen to you. Family issues, drama with boyfriends/girlfriends, getting rejected from a job or internship, or any other failures you may face. The people in your community, as much as we hate to admit it, will talk about those things, too. As hard as you try to always do everything right and ensure that your life is perfect, sometimes things go wrong. And that is totally OKAY! Take the negatives and learn lessons from them. It won't be the end of the world.
People will wave at you when you pass them on the road, even if they don't know you. Wave back.Giphy
Everyone from a small town knows the universal wave we use when we pass someone on the road. You know, the one where your hand comes slightly off the wheel and you put up the index finger and middle finger and just give a little swoosh through the air. We do it out of habit, not even thinking about it. But once you leave your small hometown and go to a place like Lexington the way I did, 9 times out of 10, people won't wave back at you when you wave, so you'll try your best to break the habit you've been stuck on since the first time you drove down Main Street in your first car. You'll miss passing the same cars with the same people everyday. You'll miss seeing the half-grin that forms on people's faces when you wave at them. You'll miss passing the police officer who is directing traffic before school and waving because everybody knows everybody. So when people wave at you, even if you don't know them, wave back. Don't take those waves for granted.
Your middle/high school teachers will be some of the best people you can go to when you need them, even after you graduate.
Just a few of the teachers who helped make me who I am today. Jeff Wesley, Allen Lewis, McClee Manion, Cristal Collins, Lisa Johnson, Johnna Ward, Rachael Yaden, & Susan McDowell.
Every morning you wake up, go to school, and see the same people. I know that right now it seems like a boring routine, but trust me, soon you'll realize that you will miss these people when you're gone. I know I did. I know it gets old being around the same people every single day, but I promise you will look back and wish you hadn't taken all those days in those classrooms for granted. The teachers you have in middle and high school will turn into some of the most influential people in your life, and maybe even some of your closest friends that you will always be able to depend on. They will help in molding you into the person you will become and in realizing what you want to do with your life. I wouldn't be where I am or doing what I'm doing now if it wasn't for these amazing people who helped make me who I am today. With this being said, thank a teacher.
Your friends will become your family.
Chandler, Maddy, Adie, and Emma
While the above statement will also ring true for those who don't grow up in a small town, I think it hits home for people from small towns a little more. Going through middle and high school, you'll hang out with the same group of friends everyday and every weekend. At some point along the way, they become more than the friends you hang out with. They'll turn into the closest thing to family without a bloodline that you can get. Odds are you'll go separate ways after you leave high school, you may lose touch, and you'll only see each other every now and then. However, when you do see each other, it'll be as if you're picking up right where you left off. It's going to be an adjustment, but it gets easier. The moments and memories you share together will turn into a bond that lasts a lifetime. Enjoy every moment with these people.
You'll miss the nothingness.
Growing up in a small town, we all loved complaining about how there was nothing around us and we never had anything to do. Here's a tip: don't take this for granted either!!! After graduation, after you move cities and end up in a place that has more "stuff" (or in my case, A LOT more), there will be times you'll want nothing more than to walk outside and see nothing. You'll want a walk through the woods, the sound of water running through a creek, crickets chirping, and fresh air. It happens to me a lot more than I want to admit. Don't get me wrong, change is good and I love where I live, but sometimes it's nice to be back home. Don't turn peacefulness and lack of "things to do" into a bad thing because I promise you, one of these days, you will miss it more than you'll ever want to say.