I am from a very small town in lower Alabama located about an hour north of Mobile, known as Grove Hill. While not many people have been there or even heard of this place, it is near and dear to my heart for many reasons. Whenever I meet new people there are two things that I love to tell them. One is that the closet Chick-fil-A to my hometown is an hour away. The other is that my graduating class was 88 people, and that was considered large at the time.
Not everything about growing up in small towns is sunshine and daisies, as some TV shows might have you believe. There are many challenges that people in larger areas don't have to face on a daily basis.
For some people, it's hard to make new friends. You spend your entire childhood growing up with the same people, and if you haven't found a group of friends by middle school, you're pretty much out of luck finding a place to fit in. There is also the chance that even if you have found that group, you still might not truly feel like you fit in with them and force yourself to be someone you're not in order to be their friend.
There is also nothing to do for fun in a small town other than ride dirt roads and "cause trouble", as my parents would say. Most of the time people have to drive a minimum of 30 minutes for an activity worthy of the trip. If you have strict parents like me, leaving the house after curfew is out of the question.
No matter who you are, everyone knows everyone and their business. It's a gossip factory and once people hear your last name they know exactly which family you come from and most of the family drama, too. These are the same people that tend to whisper to each other about what you chose to wear to church last Sunday or what boy they saw you speak to at the grocery store when you were running errands for your mom after school.
To top off life in a small town, everything is usually closed by 5 p.m., and when I say everything I mean the few businesses that don't really sell anything you need but you buy stuff from anyway because of the lack of competition in the area. This can cause all sorts of issues when five people show up to the Friday night football wearing the exact same outfit from the one over-priced boutique in your town.
While I am sure there are more negatives about small towns, I love where I'm from and wouldn't trade it for the world because of all the good that outweighs the bad.
One of the best moments in a small town is the way the quiet sets in at night. It's a beautiful, peaceful silence that makes it easy to collect your thoughts and feel calm even when you're most stressed. A glance up at the night sky is filled with all the stars that big city lights block out. The sound of crickets and nocturnal animals is enough to send you to sleep.
Families are also so close to each other. This is meant both mentally and physically. Most of the time your family lives just 10 minutes down the road from you, making large get-togethers an often occurrence. This also means that you're able to trace your family all across town.
The community is your biggest support system. The neighbors genuinely care about each other and will rally in case of emergencies. Everyone is there to help each other in times of celebration and loss. With every hardship faced by a small town, the people grow closer to one another every time.
And last but not least, no matter how long you've been gone, it never stops feeling like home.
Growing up in small towns definitely has pros and cons. I, like many of the other people in my town, could not wait to get out of there fast enough and move on to bigger, better things. Although I hit the ground running at the first chance I got, one thing is for sure, I will never forget where I came from. When I think about the place I call home, I can't help but have an overwhelming sense of appreciation for the place and people that molded me to be the woman I am today. Being from a small town taught me so many important lessons that I will never forget and carry with me for the rest of my life.