8 Signs You're From A Small Town

8 Signs You're From A Small Town

You know everyone, and everyone knows you.

I grew up in a small town. And by small, I mean around 12,000 people. Many people often return there to raise a family, and it's a place where everyone knows everyone. However, after leaving home to attend college in a city, I had immense culture shock. I knew nobody, there were more than four restaurants to choose from for dinner and it took over 20 minutes just to get downtown. After chatting with other people from small towns across the U.S., I realized that there are certain experiences and memories that only small-town folk can relate to.

1. You knew every single person in your graduating class.

You also have probably known most of these people since kindergarten. Even if you have never had a full conversation with one of your classmates, you know he has two sisters, three cats and his mom's name is Lisa.

2. When you're telling people where you’re from and they don’t know where it is, you have to refer to other well-known surrounding towns.

"My town is really close to ____."

"Oh, I know where that is!"

Of course, you do.

3. When you go to the grocery store, you will see at least 3 people you know.

It's impossible to go run a quick errand. A five-minute trip to the grocery store turns into a 40-minute trip because you had to say hi to your best friend from third grade's mom (and catch up for 15 minutes).

4. Everyone knows everyone’s business.

"Did you hear that ____ got into Yale?" "Did you also hear that ____ and ____ are getting a divorce?"

No one has any privacy and news travels fast.

5. Your ex is also your brother’s best friend’s sibling or lives around the corner from one of your good friends.

Did I mention that everyone knows everyone in a small town?

6. You have to venture to nearby towns to do anything: shopping, see a movie, go out to dinner, etc.

Considering the only fun activities in your tiny town are to go to the local pizzeria or nail salon, you must explore other towns to find something exciting to do on the weekend.

7. It takes less than five minutes to get from one end of town to the other.

If you drive for five minutes on the main road, you will most likely be in another (probably more lively) town nearby.

8. Late night drives around town is a popular activity.

If you're lucky, sometimes cops will start following you, too. (Because what other crime is happening in your town?)

I am who I am because of my small town. It has taught me the meaning of the word community and that family and friends are the most important things in life. I also know that if I come back 20 years from now, I would still recognize people anywhere I go.

Cover Image Credit: TAP Into LLC

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A Senior's Last Week Of High School

The bittersweet end.

Well, this is it. This is what we've worked so hard the last four years - who am I kidding - basically what seems like our whole lives for. This is the very last week we will set foot as a student in our high school's hallways. As most schools are getting ready to set their seniors free at last, it all begins to set in - the excitement, the anxiousness, and also the sentiment and nostalgia.

For seniors, the years since our first day as a freshman at the bottom of the high school totem pole have seemed endless, but as we look back on these last few weeks, we realize that this year in particular has gone by extraordinarily fast. It was just yesterday that we were sitting in our classrooms for the very first time, going to our 'last first' practice, and getting our first taste of the (very real) "senioritis". With all that's going on in our lives right now, from sports and clubs, finals, and the sought after graduation ceremony, it's hard to really sit down and think about how our lives are all about to become drastically different. For some it's moving out, and for some it's just the thought of not seeing your best friend on the way to fourth period English; either way, the feels are real. We are all in a tug of war with the emotions going on inside of us; everything is changing - we're ready, but we're not.

THE GOOD. Our lives are about to begin! There is a constant whirlwind of excitement. Senior awards, getting out of school early, parties, and of course Graduation. We are about to be thrust into a world of all new things and new people. Calling our own shots and having the freedom we have so desperately desired since the teenage years began is right around the corner. Maybe the best part is being able to use these new things surrounding you to grow and open your mind and even your heart to ideas you never could before. We get the chance to sink or swim, become our own person, and really begin to find ourselves.

Things we don't even know yet are in the works with new people we haven't even met yet. These friendships we find will be the ones to last us a lifetime. The adventures we experience will transform into the advice we tell our own children and will become the old tales we pass down to our grandkids when they come to visit on the weekends. We will probably hate the all night study sessions, the intensity of finals week, and the overpowering stress and panic of school in general, just like we did in high school... But it will all be worth it for the memories we make that will outlive the stress of that paper due in that class you absolutely hate. As we leave high school, remember what all the parents, teachers, coaches, and mentors are telling you - this are the best times of our lives!

THE BAD. The sentimental emotions are setting in. We're crying, siblings are tearing up, and parents are full-out bawling. On that first day, we never expected the school year to speed by the way it did. Suddenly everything is coming to an end. Our favorite teachers aren't going to be down the hall anymore, our best friends probably won't share a class with us, we won't be coming home to eat dinner with our families...

We all said we wanted to get out of this place, we couldn't wait, we were ready to be on our own; we all said we wouldn't be "so emotional" when the time came, but yet here we are, wishing we could play one more football game with our team or taking the time to make sure we remember the class we liked the most or the person that has made us laugh even when we were so stressed we could cry these past few years. Take the time to hug your parents these last few months. Memorize the facial expressions of your little sister or brother. Remember the sound of your dad coming home from work. These little things we take for granted every day will soon just be the things we tell our college roommate when they ask about where we're from. As much as we've wanted to get out of our house and our school, we never thought it would break our heart as much as it did. We are all beginning to realize that everything we have is about to be gone.

Growing up is scary, but it can also be fun. As we take the last few steps in the hallways of our school, take it all in. Remember, it's okay to be happy; it's okay to be totally excited. But also remember it's okay to be sad. It's okay to be sentimental. It's okay to be scared, too. It's okay to feel all these confusing emotions that we are feeling. The best thing about the bittersweet end to our high school years is that we are finally slowing down our busy lives enough to remember the happy memories.

Try not to get annoyed when your mom starts showing your baby pictures to everyone she sees, or when your dad starts getting aggravated when you talk about moving out and into your new dorm. They're coping with the same emotions we are. Walk through the halls remembering the classes you loved and the classes you hated. Think of the all great times that have happened in our high school years and the friends that have been made that will never be forgotten. We all say we hated school, but we really didn't. Everything is about to change; that's a happy thing, and a sad thing. We all just have to embrace it! We're ready, but we're not...

Cover Image Credit: Facebook

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10 Important Life Lessons My Aunt Taught Me That I Will Forever Cherish And Live By

In life and in death, my aunt has taught me these valuable life lessons.


My Aunt MaryAnn was one of the absolute funniest, kindest, and most family-oriented people I've ever met. These are just a few of the things I have learned from her untimely passing and beautiful life.

1. Don't take things too seriously.

MaryAnn having just received the help of her two eldest grandsons in blowing out the candles on her birthday cake. She captioned this photo, "Oh my gosh, I love them! There was some serious spit on that cake, though (pretty much Ricky's)."

MaryAnn O'Shinski Goodwin - Facebook

Life throws all sorts of challenges our way every single day. It is important to not take everything too seriously and keep in mind the bigger picture of what really matters most as to channel your energy in constructive and positive ways.

2. Appreciate the little things in life.

MaryAnn and her dear father in-law, Hugh.

MaryAnn O'Shinski Goodwin - Facebook

Sometimes we get to caught up in focusing on the bigger picture that we fail to recognize and appreciate the little everyday blessings right before our eyes. The untimely passing of my Aunt MaryAnn has significantly increased my awareness of such everyday blessings that I have so easily taken for granted and made me have an increased appreciation for each and every one of them.

3. Never hesitate to have fun.

MaryAnn giving "bunny ears" to her otherwise unwitting daughter.

MaryAnn O"Shinksi Goodwin - Facebook

It's no secret that life is stressful and can be especially trying at times. Just the thought of my Aunt MaryAnn makes me smile and laugh because I am so lucky to know what an incredibly witty and undeniably hilarious personality she had, always bringing the life to every party and laughs that filled the air.

4. Take lots of photos.

MaryAnn and Jim. ~1973.

MaryAnn O'Shinski Goodwin - Facebook

One of the many things my Aunt MaryAnn and I had in common was our love for constantly (some might even say excessively) taking and sharing pictures of, and with, all of the people whom we feel so blessed to know and love. On her Facebook profile, you will find over one-hundred and fifty photo albums, the majority of which capture quality time spent with her family, immediate and extended. After her passing, it has come to my attention that out of the thousands of photos taken at our family events over my 20 years on this earth, I have not been able to find even one picture of me with my Aunt MaryAnn, whom I loved so dearly. MaryAnn was most often the one behind the camera at family gatherings, and while I very much appreciate all the quality moments she captured over the years, I so deeply wish it had crossed my mind to even pose for just one picture with her.

5. Stay humble.

MaryAnn, the epitome of a proud parent, at her youngest daughter's college graduation ceremony.

MaryAnn O'Shinksi Goodwin - Facebook

As a dear family member of MaryAnn's wrote of her after her passing, "MaryAnn was always smiling and humble, even when everyone knew she was the best!" This serves as a reminder for me to keep my feet on the ground, remember where I came from, and to keep an open heart and open mind at all times.

6. Be a kind person.

MaryAnn picking dandelions with one of her grandsons.

MaryAnn O"Shinksi Goodwin - Facebook

If I had to use one word to describe my Aunt MaryAnn, I would have to choose kind. MaryAnn was always looking at the bright side of things. If she knew you were upset in any way she always did anything and everything she could to try and help make you feel better.

7. Everyone needs help from time-to-time.

MaryAnn and her father, Willie. ~1966.

MaryAnn O'Shinski Goodwin - Facebook

I found out about the untimely passing of my Aunt MaryAnn through a phone call from my brother. At the time, I was an hour and a half away from the rest of my family and in my apartment all alone. I immediately broke down and cried, and cried, and cried. I have never experienced a loss that has had such a great effect on me as hers has. Even though I knew there was ultimately nothing that could be done to so that I may ever see her again, knowing that I have such a loving family and caring friends to help me when I was down, makes a world of difference. I have learned that it's okay to ask for help - everyone needs help from time-to-time.

8. Always show gratitude.

MaryAnn sharing a most sentimental moment with her daughter on her wedding day.

Monika Anderson Photography

While my mother was visiting MaryAnn in the hospital on her final day, she called me to tell me it wasn't looking good. I cried to her over the phone, begging her to go tell Aunt MaryAnn how much I loved her, but I would have given anything to have at least been there on that day to tell her myself. I cannot remember if there was ever a time that I told my Aunt MaryAnn how much I appreciated her. I don't doubt that didn't ultimately know, but I wish I had actually told her that I loved and appreciated her, so, so much. This has led me to be more mindful in showing my appreciation to those I hold dear in ways that I hadn't normally done before.

9. Every day is a blessing.

MaryAnn is overcome with joy on her daughter's wedding day.

Kathy Goodwin Givens - Facebook

It seems to me that a lot of people, myself included, tend to have a "not me" mentality in which we see or hear of such incidences happening to people in the world around us but still think, "oh, that will never happen to me though." Sadly, this is not the truth. Life is a fragile thing. Sudden illness can creep in and tragic accidents happen. I am even more aware now that every morning I wake up and every night I go to sleep is truly a blessing and should not be taken for granted.

10. Stay strong.

MaryAnn by her husband Jim's side at their youngest daughter's wedding rehearsal.

Monika Anderson Photography

Even when mourning my Aunt MaryAnn's death, I found it almost impossible to do so without hearing her voice in my head telling me not to cry over her and that everything will be okay. I know that the last thing MaryAnn would ever want is for anyone to be upset, especially over her, even in death. Even now I have a sense of her comforting me, helping me carry on and to stay strong.

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