10 Things I Learned From Growing Up In A Town Smaller Than A College Campus

10 Things I Learned From Growing Up In A Town Smaller Than A College Campus

A town straight out of a country song.

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With a population of just over 1,000, my hometown has given me so much in my 19 years of life. It's taught me things I would've never learned anywhere else (whether that be good or bad).

1. You know everyone and everyone knows you

This is so true, especially if you're a part of a big family. You're not only somehow related to everyone, but everyone knows which family you belong to. I can't go anywhere in town without at least one person recognizing me (which isn't a bad thing). If you were in the newspaper, there's a slight chance that multiple people will tell you as soon as they see you.

2. High school sports (especially football) are no joke 

As someone who cheered for four years, there's truly nothing like home football games. The sound of the crowd roaring behind you, the tunnel at the beginning of the games, and the sunsets gleaming onto the field. My senior year the football team almost went to state for the first time in 22 years. It was a HUGE deal for the community. The football players were like local celebrities and it was such an exciting time for everyone. There truly isn't anything better the spirit that surrounds small-town sports.

3. High school homecoming is a big deal for everyone

Unlike larger schools, basketball and football homecomings in my small town were like one big reunion for everyone. We have an elaborate theme for each homecoming and the Stu-co spent all day decorating it. The gym and sidelines were usually packed with people coming home to see old friends, to find out which candidate gets crowned queen, and to cheer on the athletes.

4. You live about an hour from just about everything

When I tell my college friends that I live an hour from the nearest Target, they think I'm joking. I'm being completely serious. If you needed some new clothes and shoes for school you had to make a whole day out of it. You also tried to schedule all of your doctors' appointments around the same time so you didn't have to make so many trips. An idea of a family outing meant going to a nice restaurant in "the big city" and seeing the newest movie. Something fun to do with my friends meant driving 30 minutes to get coffee, Sonic, or even just fooling around in Walmart. If we were really desperate, we even cruised the backroads listening to our favorite music.

5. You have so much respect for farmers and agriculture

I come from a family of farmers and my good friends in high school were daughters of cattle and dairy farmers. The farmers in my town are some of the kindest, smartest and most hardworking people I will probably ever meet. Seeing agriculture work in and out of my town has caused me to have so much respect for farmers and the industry. I've been caught behind a tractor and learned the hard way to not stop close to a stop-sign if a semi is turning my way. Yet I truly wouldn't have wanted it any other way.

6. High school relationships can get a little tricky

Dating in a high school of 100-something people was pretty hard. They were either related to you, taken, or like a brother to you. If you did find someone to talk to, there's a 90% chance that they've also talked to one of your friends. Most of the drama in my high school was an effect of someone dating someone else's ex.

7. You know everyone you graduated with

You don't just know them, you really know them. You know their full names, what their families do for a living, and who showed up at their kids' sporting events and who didn't. When you graduate with only 30-something other kids, it's hard not to know everyone on a super personal level.

8. When times get tough, people are always there for you

When a family of the community suddenly lost a loved one, the community immediately wrapped their arms around them and comforted them. Whether it was bringing meals to the grieving family, selling memorial T-shirts and bracelets, housing benefit dinners, or just being there for the family. If you were going through something heavy, someone always had your back.

9. You feel so loved coming home from college

I remember sitting in a lecture hall half the size of my hometown on the first day of classes and feeling overwhelmed. I thought, "How is anybody supposed to make friends at a college of 35,000 people?"

The first night home from college, I was welcomed home with open arms by everyone. I was reunited with former teachers, coaches, classmates, old friends and adults of the community. As much as I love college, it was so nice coming home to a place where everyone knows me.

10.  You couldn't of asked for a better upbringing

As much as I was ready to move to a bigger place after high school, growing up in a small town was the best thing I could ask for. It gave me a sense of community, support, and love that I wouldn't have been able to get elsewhere. My town sent me to college with enough support and encouragement to last a lifetime.

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To The Boy Who Will Love Me Next

If you can't understand these few things, leave before things get too involved
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To the boy that will love me next, I need you to know and understand things about me and my past. The things I have been though not only have shaped the person I’ve become, but also sometimes controls my life. In the past I’ve been used, abused, and taken for granted, and I want something real this time. The guys before you were just boys; they didn’t know how to treat me until it was too late. They didn’t understand how to love me, until I broke my own heart. Before you truly decide to love me I want you to understand these things.

When I tell you something, please listen.

I’m my own person, I want to be loved a certain way. If I ask you to come over and watch movies with me please do it, if I ask for you to leave me alone for a few hours because it’s a girl’s night please do it. I don’t just say things to hear my own voice, I say things to you because it’s important to my life and the way I want to be loved. I’m not a needy person when it comes to being loved and cared for, but I do ask for you to do the small things that I am say.

Forgive my past.

My past is not a pretty brick road, it is a highway that has a bunch of potholes and cracks in it. I have a lot of baggage, and most of it you won’t understand. But don’t let my past decided whether you want to love me or not. My past has helped form who I am today, but it does not define who I am. My past experiences might try and make an appearance every once in a while, but I will not go back to that person I once was, I will not return to all that hurt I once went though. When I say those things, I’m telling the complete and honest truth. I relive my past every day, somethings haunt me and somethings are good reminds. But for you to love me, I need you to accept my past, present and future.

I’m just another bro to the other guys.

I have always hung out with boys, I don’t fit in with the girl groups. I have 10 close girlfriends, but the majority of my friends are guy, but don’t let this scare you. If I wanted to be with one of my guy friends I would already be with him, and if you haven’t noticed I don’t want them because I’m with you. I will not lose my friendships with all my guy friends to be able to stay with you. I will not cut off ties because you don’t like my guy friends. I have lost too many buddies because of my ex-boyfriends and I promised myself I wouldn’t do that again. If you don’t like how many guy friends I have you can leave now. Don’t bother trying to date me if you can accept the fact I’m just another bro.

I might be a badass, but I actually have a big heart.

To a lot of people I come off to be a very crazy and wild girl. I will agree I can be crazy and wild, but I’m more than that. I’m independent, caring, responsible, understanding, forgiving, and so such more type of woman. Many people think that I’m a badass because I don’t take any negatively from anyone. Just like we learned when we were younger, “if you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say it at all.” Most people can’t do that in today’s world, so I stick up for myself and my friends. I don’t care what anyone thinks about me, or their option on how I live my life. The only thing I care about is being able to make myself happy. Even though I’m an independent woman, understand that I do have a big heart. Honesty when I truly care for someone I will do just about anything they ask, but don’t take advantage of this. Once you take advantage of this part of me, all respect will be lost for you.

I’m hard to love.

Sometimes I want to be cuddle and get attention, and sometimes I don’t want you to talk to me for a couple hours. Sometimes I want you to take me out for a nice meal, but sometimes I want a home cooked meal. Every day is different for me, sometimes I change my mind every hour. My mood swings are terrible on certain days, and on those days you should probably just ignore me. I’m not easy to love, so you’ll either be willing to find a way to love me, or you’ll walk out like so many others have.

I’m scared.

I’m scared to love someone again. I’ve been hurt, heartbroken, and beat to the ground in my past relationships. I want to believe you are different, I want to hope things will truly work out, but every relationship has always ended up the same way. I’m scared to trust someone, put my whole heart into them, just to be left and heartbroken again. I sick and tired of putting my whole body and soul into someone for them to just leave when it is convenient for them. If you want to love me, understand it won’t be easy for me to love you back.

When “I’m done.”

When I say “I’m done” I honestly don’t mean that I’m done. When I say that it means I need and want you to fight for me, show me why you want to be with me. I need you to prove that I’m worth it and there’s no one else but me. If I was truly done, I would just walk away, and not come back. So if I ever tell you, “I’m done,” tell me all the reasons why I’m truly not done.

For the boy who will love me next, the work is cut out for you, you just have to be willing to do it. I’m not like other girls, I am my own person, and I will need to be treated as such. For the boy that will love me next, don’t bother with me unless you really want to be with me. I don’t have time to waste on you if you aren’t going to try and make something out of us. To the boy who will love me next, the last thing I would like to say is good luck, I have faith in you.

Cover Image Credit: Danielle Balint

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The Keys To Success That No One Thinks About

Everyone wants to know how to be successful, but how can you do it?

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No one actually owns them.

That's it. That's all you really need to know. If there is one thing you take away from this article, it is that.

No one really owns the keys to success.

They aren't owned, lost, stolen, regifted, taken by the bank, borrowed, nothing. They aren't exclusive. The keys to success belong to no one and so they belong to everyone. It's a commodity available to the public, yet only some take advantage of the wonderful opportunities it brings.

It doesn't take a lot to be successful. The only thing it requires is a mindset. When you decide you want to be successful, you are accepting a mentality that while where you are might be okay (or it might suck), you want a change. You want something new, something better, and something that you can't gain from being where you are. This realization flips the most important switch in your body to on: motivation.

Now you are ready to go out and get what you want. You will research what it takes, google it until you're blue in the face, and yelp all the reviews of people who have done it before. You find out what it takes, what you have, and the things you need to gain to make it a reality. You figure out the plan and you're driven to carry it out until it is completely executed. It's a mentality that must stick even when the times get rough.

ESPECIALLY when the times get rough.

And also, the best part is, you can make the keys what you want.

If your door looks like making money for your own start up, then all the power to you. If your door looks like the confidence to wear what you want out in public from that day on, then good for you sister. If your door looks like getting into medical school, then get that 4.0 or that 3.9 or whatever you need during that undergraduate career baby. If your door looks like graduating, then get that degree. The only thing stopping you is you and the limits of your imagination. Make it happen. Success is your own. It's subjective.

However, if you came to this article looking for maybe some starter steps to being successful, I can offer those, too.

1. Focus on your commitment and where you're headed

Think about how sweet it'll be once you get where you want to be when the times get rough.

2. Make the journey fun

Make sure you do things you really enjoy along the way when you're struggling.

3. Avoid distractions

If it isn't helping you, it could be hurting you, so keep your eyes open for unnecessary road blocks.

4. Rely on yourself

You are the person who wants to achieve this goal. You are the only person who can really determine whether or not you can get there. Plenty will try to drag you down, but do not let them. Others may help you along the way, but they are not going to carry you where you want to go. You have to want it.

5. Make a plan

Although sometimes things happen that can't be predicted when you first make the plan, having structure is a lot better than winging it. It helps you focus on the end result and also helps it seem much more attainable when you break it down into steps. If you're organized, you'll have a higher chance of succeeding.

6. Don't be afraid of failure

You may come across roadblocks that you can't budge. That's okay. Go back and find a new way to go. Giving up isn't the answer and it surely won't get you where you want to go if you give up the second things look hard. Push on. Persevere. Pick yourself up.

7. Be willing to work hard

You won't get what you want easily. Nothing worth having comes easily. So saddle up and get ready because it might be a long and hard road, but the results will make you glad you took the journey.

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