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.