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

.

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."

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22 New Things That I Want To Try Now That I'm 22

A bucket list for my 22nd year.

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"I don't know about you but I'm feelin' 22," I have waited 6 long years to sing that and actually be 22! Now 22 doesn't seem like a big deal to people because you can't do anything that you couldn't do before and you're still super young. But I'm determined to make my 22nd year a year filled with new adventures and new experiences. So here's to 22.

1. Go sky diving.

What's crazier than jumping out of a plane? (Although I'll probably try indoor skydiving first.)

2. Go cliff jumping/diving.

I must be the only Rhode Islander who hasn't gone to Jamestown and jumped off a cliff.

3. Ride in a hot air balloon.

Up, up and away.

4. Try out skiing.

Cash me in the next Olympics, how bout dat.

5. Try out snow boarding.

Shawn White, I'm coming for you.

6. Go bungee jumping.

Because at least this time I'll be attached to something.

7. Go to Portugal.

I mean I'm Portuguese so I have to go at some point, right?

8. Go to Cape Verde.

Once again, I'm Cape Verdean so I have to go.

9. Vist one of the seven wonders of the world.

I mean hey, Egypt's on, my bucket list.

10. Try out surfing.

It's only natural that somebody from the Ocean State knows how to surf.

11. Learn a new langauge.

Because my little bit of Portuguese, Spanish and Latin isn't cutting it anymore.

12. Travel to a state that I've never been to before.

Fun fact: I've only been to 17 of the 50 states.

13. Go paddle boarding.

Pretty boring but I've never done it.

14. Go scuba diving.

I'm from the Ocean State so I guess I should see the ocean up close and personal.

15. Learn how to line dance.

There's actually a barn in my state that does line dancing, so this one will definitely get crossed off.

16. Go kayaking.

All this water around me and I haven't done a lot of the water activites.

17. Stay the night in a haunted hotel room.

I bet if I got my friends to come with me, it would be like the Suite Life of Zach and Cody episode, minus the ghost coming out of the wall but you never know.

18. Get my palms read.

Because who doesn't want to know their future.

19. Go to a medium.

Like a medium that can communicate with people that have died.

20. Take a helicopter ride.

Air plane: check Helicopter:....

21. Sleep under the stars.

Because sleeping in a tent is more like glamping than camping

22. Just to try new things in my everyday life.

Whether it's trying a new restaurant, getting something different at my usual restaurants, changing my usual style, going on the scary rides at amusement parks, and bringing things I used to do back into my life now.

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10 Things to keep in mind when you're trying to adult

The practical advice you wish you'd been given.

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There's not a handbook that teaches you how to be an adult.

Somehow you're just supposed to know that maxing out your credit card makes it harder for you to buy a house. You're also supposed to intuitively understand that talking about the last episode of "The Bachelor" isn't an appropriate interjection when you're discussing qualitative metrics at a professional conference.

When you're transitioning into the world of adulting, there are skills you'll need (both hard and soft) if you're going to survive. While our list is, by no means exhaustive, keeping these ten things in mind will help you make the switch more easily.

1. Buy some life insurance. Seriously.

Life happens. If you think life insurance is for people in their mid-60s, think again. If you don't have a life insurance policy, it's a good idea to get one now, while you can. That is if your parents don't already have one for you. Having a policy ensures that your family has some extra cash to cover your expenses, should anything terrible happen to you.

If you've got some severe medical issues, you might want to look into getting a policy that doesn't require a medical exam. Here's a list of plans that don't require one.

2. You’re in charge of your money

Adulting means having a lot more financial freedom, but with more freedom comes more responsibility. Your bills and finances increase once you become an adult. Suddenly you've got a mortgage, insurance bills, taxes, kids, and a savings account to build up. Not to mention you might have some student loans or other debts you need to pay off.

With all these extra financial responsibilities, you need to know how to manage your finances. Creating and sticking to a budget, building up your savings, and not living beyond your means are a few ways you become more responsible with your money. You'll have to learn to pass up T-Swift concert tickets and pay some bills instead.

3. You can’t have ramen for dinner every night

Your famous "ramen noodle surprise" won't impress anyone once you're an adult. It'll taste of freshman year and despair. Learning how to cook a few meals by yourself is a pretty big part of being an adult. There's a ton of benefits for doing so, too. Your food will be tastier (if you follow recipes), you'll eat healthier, and you'll save a ton of money by not eating out every night.

Plus, there's nothing hotter than dating someone who knows how to grill up some filet mignon and pair it with the perfect wine.

4. Pretend you’re already old

We all like to think that getting old isn't something that'll happen to us. Reality check: we all get old someday. The trick to making it easier is pretending you're already old, which means saving for retirement like right now. Even if you put aside a few bucks every paycheck, you're on your way to a more comfortable retirement.

Think about it. Do you really want to spend your last few years of life living with your kids because you can't afford to live on your own? Or relying solely on government welfare checks to pay for your food? Probs not.

5. Maintaining your home is your responsibility

Remember the days when you lived in an apartment, and could call maintenance when something went wrong? Those days are over when you become an adult. Once you have a house, it's your responsibility to make sure it's liveable. When your A/C goes out, or your hot water isn't working, it's your job to fix it.

You should also know how to keep your house clean, too. If you don't know how to wash dishes by hand, vacuum, or unclog a drain, start learning now.

6. Don’t underestimate the importance of small talk

Even if you're introverted, you need to know how to carry on a conversation with someone. Especially in the job field. You need to know how to talk to people and expand your network. If your opening line involves slurred references to Battlestar Galactica or "Grey's Anatomy," you're doing something wrong.

Good conversation skills always come in handy. Whether you're at a bar chatting up a hottie or networking at a professional conference, you need to know how to talk to people.

7. You need to know how to manage your time

Time management


Time management is an art. If you haven't figured out how to do it, you probably should. As an adult, you're going to be juggling a ton of different personal and professional priorities. Work deadlines, family obligations, and your personal life are all things you have to learn how to manage.

If you don't want to be constantly frazzled, you need solid time management skills. Making just a few tweaks to your day or week makes the things in your life fall into an orderly fashion.

8. You need more than one skill on your resume

One of the things that stands out among employers are people who have a large skill set and fill different job roles if needed. Having those transferable skills help you stand out among employers. Skills like strong communication skills, leadership, teamwork, and multitasking are items you need to have on your resume. Or, at least prepare yourself to talk about them in job interviews.

The great thing about transferable skills is once you develop them, they stick around for life. For instance, if you worked in retail throughout college, you'll learn customer service skills (not to mention sales experience). Even if you spent some time doing clerical work for a business, don't discount it. You have organizational, email, and professional communications skills. And while you may never have to write another essay or term paper, employers will delight in your writing skills.

9. Your credit card isn’t like cash

Too many people use their credit card irresponsibly. They rack up a ton of debt and don't reap the benefits of having a credit card. Credit cards are not supposed to allow you to live beyond your means. They're supposed to help you build up credit so you can buy a home or a car—not help you buy another night of bottle service or a pair of Gucci's.

People who use their credit cards wisely are generally a lot happier. They're less stressed out about their money and feel more in control of their finances. Pay your balance off monthly. Trust me here.

10. You finally get to think for yourself

As an adult, it's important that you know how to think for yourself. You need to know how to question the current way of doing things—whether that's at work or in the real world. Learn how to analyze your thinking and present evidence for your thoughts. Don't just accept your personal reasoning as proof.

Developing critical thinking skills allows you to be a more successful adult. You'll learn how to control your emotions and act fairly towards others. In the real world, nobody wants to work with selfish teenagers. They're looking for smart, dependable, and kind coworkers.

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