The Cliché Small Town Post

The Cliché Small Town Post

Is my hometown even considered small? Or is it more minuscule? Either way, I love it.
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I come from a town of 600 people, how many of those people actually live in the town and not in the country, I have no idea. I live three miles outside of town in the middle of a cornfield (literally in the middle of the cornfield). My elementary class had nine kids in it and I could tell you each kid’s middle name, parent’s name, parent’s occupation, where they lived, what kind of car they drove, who their siblings were, and their birthday because we were such a small class. When it was time to graduate eighth grade and go to high school, I wasn’t capable of going to the high school in my town. The high school was deactivated when I was in seventh grade because there were so few kids enrolled. So instead I had the choice of three high schools and traveled sixteen miles there and back for four years. My graduating class had thirty kids in it and most of the students had been together since Kindergarten. While we were such a small school and lots of times we got annoyed with one another, we were still extremely close. We took part in sports, FFA, FCCLA, and youth group together, we sat in the same classrooms together, and we hung out with one another on weekends together. When we graduated, we went all over the place for college and work but still remain friends with the people we went to school with.

In town there are very select things to do. There’s the gas station to catch up on gossip, fuel up your truck, and grab a bite to eat or the barbershop (*only open on Tuesdays and Thursdays) to drink coffee and discuss grain prices. If you feel like going out on the weekend, you can choose from the two bars in town or take the kids to see whatever movie is playing at the one screen theater in the next town over. Maybe you need to run some errands that day so you can go to the post office, print shop, pick up some ammo for hunting season, and take your car to the mechanic while you wait for your kids to get their teeth cleaned at the dentist’s office. During harvest, the trucks are going in and out of the grain elevator and in the spring farmers are lining up to have their fields sprayed. If a part happens to break on their tractor or combine, there is always the welding shop for help and when it comes time to expand the farm they can count on the numerous construction companies to build a quality shop. We are not a huge town and there aren’t many extracurriculars, but we get by just fine.

I love my small town and I have learned to appreciate it even more now that I’ve moved off to college. It is where I played on the playground as a kid, cruised my car as a teenager, and it is the place I’m most thankful for as a somewhat-adult. The town is filled with people who helped raise me and would still help me out today. I can count on the town firefighters and EMTs to keep me safe, the teachers to help the kids in and out of school, and the community to cheer me on. Even though there are thousands of articles praising how amazing their small town are, I had to share my story because every small town needs to be appreciated.

Cover Image Credit: Sam and Me

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I'm The Girl Without A 'Friend Group'

And here's why I'm OK with it

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Little things remind me all the time.

For example, I'll be sitting in the lounge with the people on my floor, just talking about how everyone's days went. Someone will turn to someone else and ask something along the lines of, "When are we going to so-and-so's place tonight?" Sometimes it'll even be, "Are you ready to go to so-and-so's place now? Okay, we'll see you later, Taylor!"

It's little things like that, little things that remind me I don't have a "friend group." And it's been like that forever. I don't have the same people to keep me company 24 hours of the day, the same people to do absolutely everything with, and the same people to cling to like glue. I don't have a whole cast of characters to entertain me and care for me and support me. Sometimes, especially when it feels obvious to me, not having a "friend group" makes me feel like a waste of space. If I don't have more friends than I can count, what's the point in trying to make friends at all?

I can tell you that there is a point. As a matter of fact, just because I don't have a close-knit clique doesn't mean I don't have any friends. The friends I have come from all different walks of life, some are from my town back home and some are from across the country. I've known some of my friends for years, and others I've only known for a few months. It doesn't really matter where they come from, though. What matters is that the friends I have all entertain me, care for me, and support me. Just because I'm not in that "friend group" with all of them together doesn't mean that we can't be friends to each other.

Still, I hate avoiding sticking myself in a box, and I'm not afraid to seek out friendships. I've noticed that a lot of the people I see who consider themselves to be in a "friend group" don't really venture outside the pack very often. I've never had a pack to venture outside of, so I don't mind reaching out to new people whenever.

I'm not going to lie, when I hear people talking about all the fun they're going to have with their "friend group" over the weekend, part of me wishes I could be included in something like that. I do sometimes want to have the personality type that allows me to mesh perfectly into a clique. I couldn't tell you what it is about me, but there is some part of me that just happens to function better one-on-one with people.

I hated it all my life up until very recently, and that's because I've finally learned that not having a "friend group" is never going to be the same as not having friends.

SEE ALSO: To The Girls Who Float Between Friend Groups

Cover Image Credit: wordpress.com

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Odyssey, From A Creator's Point Of View

Writing for Odyssey is transitioning from the outside looking in, to the inside looking a million ways at once.

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It's 11:59 p.m. and I have two articles due tomorrow afternoon: two articles that are basically figments of my imagination at this point. When I was asked to write for Odyssey, I was ecstatic. I was a devout reader in high school and found every post so #relatable. During my short time as a "creator" for Odyssey, I've experienced what it's like to be on the other side of the articles.

Every post is not #relatable. This is a platform for anyone and everyone. I chose the articles I wanted to click on and read them, deemed them relatable, and clicked share. I, along with Odyssey's 700,000 something followers, did not go through and read every single article.

Being a creator has shown me that everyone has a voice, and by God, they're going to use it (rightfully so).

It can be disheartening at times to get what we think is a low number of page views when there are articles we don't necessarily agree with getting hundreds of Facebook shares. I don't crank out journalistic gold by any means, but being a writer isn't a walk in the park. It's stressful at times and even disappointing. Odyssey creators aren't paid, and even though it's liberating to be able to write about whatever our hearts desire, I'll be the first to admit that my life is just not that interesting.

When I first started writing for Odyssey, I vowed to never post anything basic like some things I have read in the past. If I'm going to dedicate the time it takes to write for a national platform, I'm going to publish things worth reading.

That vow is basically out the window now.

Simply stated, it's easy to write about things that are easy to write about. It's kind of like calling a Hail Mary play when it's the night before an article is due and there's been a topic in the back of your mind for days that you don't think is that great, but you think people might read. You just throw it out there and hope for the best. Being a creator gives you inside access to knowing what people are reading, what's popular, and what's working for other creators. Odyssey's demographic is not as diverse as it could or should be, so it's not hard to pick out something that the high school girl you once were will find relatable. Recently went through a breakup? Write about it. Watched a new show on Netflix? Write about it. When there's nothing holding you back, you have the freedom to literally put whatever you want online.

It's not easy coming out of your freshman year of college, one of the hardest years for any person, and being expected to whip up articles that everyone will love. Not everyone is going to love what I write. Heck, not everyone is going to like what I write. The First Amendment is a blessing and a curse. Not everyone is going to agree with you, and that's okay.

The beauty of Odyssey is that it highlights the fact that everyone DOES have a voice, and whether that voice coincides with your religious, political, or personal views isn't up to you.

You have the power to pick and choose what you want to read, relate to, and share. Remember that you have no way of knowing what every single person on the planet is going through and what they choose to write about reflects their own personal opinions, experiences, accomplishments, and hardships. Odyssey creators can spend weeks crafting articles they hope will break the Internet, but in return only get a few views. They can also pull all-nighters grasping at straws just trying to reach the minimum word requirement and end up writing the best thing since sliced bread.

I guess what I'm getting at here is that even though there are posts out there that are so easy for us to relate to, that's not always the goal for writers. We write what we feel, and if there's nothing to write about, we write what we think other people feel. The kicker is that we don't truly know what other people are feeling. You might hurt someone's feelings with your words. You might make someone cry with your story because they felt like they were alone and finally, finally, someone else feels the same way. You might trigger someone and get hateful comments. You might even change someone's life with your words.

The moral of the story is that words are pretty powerful, whether we choose to believe it or not.

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