Growing Up As A Small Town Girl

Growing Up As A Small Town Girl

Life moves a lot slower when you're stuck driving behind a tractor.
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Kouts, Indiana. It's where I grew up. Have you ever heard of it? Probably not.

I graduated with 53 students total, and I had been going to school with a majority of them since preschool. I live with cornfields surrounding my house, and I'm definitely not the only one. On the last day of school, the farmers drive their tractors and line them up in the parking lot. For fun, we had to go to the town over, because that is where the movie theatre and all the restaurants are. And, if your parents also grew up in Kouts, there is a good chance that half of the teachers you have also taught your mom and dad in high school. Growing up here, things were a little different.

Kouts has one main road that runs through the entire town, deemed Main Street. Main Street holds all that Kouts has to offer in the way of shopping and eating. Save a Lot and Dollar General are the two grocery stores we have, and usually, you don't go there unless your mom forgot to get something from the Walmart that is 30 minutes away. Family Express is the only gas station that is within a 25-mile radius and is the hub for late night snacks and Redbox movies.

Moser Tire and Great Value Hardware store are both family owned, and the only time you'll see the men who own it not in flannels and workbooks is Sunday morning in the pews at church. George's Koffee Kup is a little diner open for breakfast and lunch, and a town favorite. Groups of friends gather there for breakfast on Wednesdays, because school starts 40 minutes later, and my brother swears that one day he'll be one of the old men who sit at the same table every day to drink coffee and swap farm stories.

There's an antique shop and a library. And, of course, Birky's Bakery. In the majority of Kouts, you're either a Birky or you're related to one. Driving through this town takes you a total of five minutes, and then it is gone. But, this little town is my home.

Going to a small high school means everyone knows your business. What you did last night, who your parents are, what mistake you made 6 years ago, and how you looked when you went through those awkward middle school years

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This school is where I learned that I am not a sporty girl, where I made some of my truest friends, and even where I had my first kiss. Your teachers were Mr. and Mrs. at school, but when they were your friends' parents, or at church on Sunday they were Jack and Susan. Our teachers cared about us, and they took time to make sure that you were being the best person that you could possibly be.

There were cliques, jocks, popular girls, nerds, and farmers(who had to get out of bed at the crack of dawn to do chores before they came to school.) But, we were all friends. The nerds dated the jocks and the populars made efforts to ask the outcasts to sit with them at lunch. Bullying wasn't tolerated and we created a bond that we didn't even know we were creating. "I can't wait to get out of this school." "I am getting out of this town as soon as I can."

These are statements that were often said, and sometimes by me. But this school is where we found each other. They say that you make your real friends at college, and while this may be true, you meet your first friends in high school. And those are the ones who help you learn how to be a better person. At prom, we held hands in a circle and looked around at the people who helped shape us into the adults we became. As I looked at each of their faces, they morphed into the babies that we once were and I knew that I'd never forget them.

The world moves a lot faster outside of Kouts, Indiana. There's no doubt about that. And, now that I live in West Lafayette, I know that there is more to the world than the little bubble of farmland that I was raised in. But, as John Cougar Mellencamp once said, "my bed is in a small town. And that's good enough for me."

Cover Image Credit: Pexels

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To The Girl Who Had A Plan

A letter to the girl whose life is not going according to her plan.
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“I am the master of my fate: I am the captain of my soul.” - William Ernest Henley

Since we were little girls we have been asked, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” We responded with astronauts, teachers, presidents, nurses, etc. Then we start growing up, and our plans change.

In middle school, our plans were molded based on our friends and whatever was cool at the time. Eventually, we went to high school and this question became serious, along with some others: “What are your plans for college?” “What are you going to major in?” “When do you think you’ll get married?” “Are you going to stay friends with your friends?” We are bombarded with these questions we are supposed to have answers to, so we start making plans.

Plans, like going to college with our best friends and getting a degree we’ve been dreaming about. Plans, to get married as soon as we can. We make plans for how to lose weight and get healthy. We make plans for our weddings and children.

SEE ALSO: 19 Pieces Of Advice From A Soon-To-Be 20-Year-Old

We fill our Pinterest boards with these dreams and hopes that we have, which are really great things to do, but what happens when you don’t get into that college? What happens when your best friend chooses to go somewhere else? Or, what if you don’t get the scholarship you need or the awards you thought you deserved. Maybe, the guy you thought you would marry breaks your heart. You might gain a few pounds instead of losing them. Your parents get divorced. Someone you love gets cancer. You don’t get the grades you need. You don’t make that collegiate sports team. The sorority you’re a legacy to, drops you. You didn’t get the job or internship you applied for. What happens to you when this plan doesn’t go your way?

I’ve been there.

The answer for that is “I have this hope that is an anchor for my soul.” Soon we all realize we are not the captain of our fate. We don’t have everything under control nor will we ever have control of every situation in our lives. But, there is someone who is working all things together for the good of those who love him, who has a plan and a purpose for the lives of his children. His name is Jesus. When life takes a turn you aren’t expecting, those are the times you have to cling to Him the tightest, trusting that His plan is what is best. That is easier said than done, but keep pursuing Him. I have found in my life that His plans were always better than mine, and slowly He’s revealing that to me.

The end of your plan isn’t the end of your life. There is more out there. You may not be the captain of your fate, but you can be the master of your soul. You can choose to be happy despite your circumstances. You can change directions at any point and go a different way. You can take the bad and make something beautiful out of it, if you allow God to work in your heart.

SEE ALSO: To The Girl Patiently Waiting With An Impatient Heart

So, make the best of that school you did get in to. Own it. Make new friends- you may find they are better than the old ones. Apply for more scholarships, or get a job. Move on from the guy that broke your heart; he does not deserve you. God has a guy lined up for you who will love you completely. Spend all the time you can with the loved one with cancer. Pray, pray hard for healing. Study more. Apply for more jobs, or try to spend your summer serving others instead. Join a different club or get involved in other organizations on campus. Find your delight first in God and then pursue other activities that make you happy; He will give you the desires of your heart.

My friend, it is going to be OK.

Cover Image Credit: Megan Beavers Photography

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The Most Important Things I've Learned From Taking Philosophy

The biggest takeaways that I have collected from my time in my Philosophy class.

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When registering for classes for Fall 2018, I found myself drawn to Philosophy 126: Mind, Brain, Self & Evolution. I figured the class would give me the opportunity to perform a lot of introspection during my first semester at college while also helping me fulfill some General Education requirements, and I couldn't have been more right. I've never had the pleasure of taking a class with such a loose agenda and the freedom to discuss every aspect of the information we are learning. That said, there have been a few major takeaways from this class.

First is the idea that you are not the sum of your parts, but the sum of your parts and the parts of everyone around you. Most people have heard the overused quote "It takes a village to raise a child," but this idea couldn't be more than true. We subconsciously pull so many of our habits, preferences, etc. from the people around us that we ultimately grow to become a community within ourselves, and there is something truly beautiful about that. It takes a village to raise a child to become a village.

Second, I've learned how important it is to understand that if some big philosophical or psychological or physical problem has not been solved yet, there is rarely going to be one solution to it. Millions of years of group thought have placed us in the intellectual shoes we are in, and yet we still question every day what our "purpose" is. There are thousands of theories and possible answers to this question, but who's to say that they aren't all correct? Some aspects of life are just too subjective to be answered objectively.

Lastly is the separation between gaining knowledge and experiential learning. Both are arguably equal in their significance, but we don't truly think about how immensely different the two concepts are until we are forced to. In philosophy, there is a theory centered around this experimental design called "Mary's Room." The story is that a woman named Mary has lived in a black and white room her whole life but has grown up learning everything about color and the human reaction to it (biologically, psychologically, etc.).

Once the door to her room is opened and she sees the color red for the first time, she has just learned something new despite already knowing everything there is to know about the concept of color. Experience is the most important part of the human condition and should not be disregarded when it comes to learning.

There are so many aspects of our existence that we never consider on a daily basis simply because we don't have to. There is something unique about people who are in touch with themselves spiritually: they have a greater understanding not just of who they are, but of who they are in relation to the rest of the world. In a fast-paced, Type A world it is especially easy to lose sight of the importance of experiencing humanity, and we often take this beautiful gift for granted.

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