I've read a few articles on small towns and some statistics show that 20-30% of Americans live in small towns and 80% of the nation's population lived in one of the 350 combined metropolitan statistical areas.
After growing up in a small town myself, I think it can sometimes be difficult to be the person you want to be while trying to please all of your small-town fans. This is the first time in my life I've moved away from my small town with the intention to stay away for a very long time.
Why would I do something so silly?
Over the past two years, I realized how my hometown was stopping me from growing and accomplishing my dreams. Hanging out with friends generally became a gossip session because we were together so often and had nothing more to talk about. Neighbors knew where I was or who I was with. There was always some type of pressure to please everyone. There has always been someone to compare my life to or to be like.
Finally, I realized how detrimental this mentality was to my success.
After a series of events this year, I finally gathered the courage to pick up my life and move somewhere where I was a “no one." Somewhere where I could start fresh and never have to worry about pleasing someone down the street. I can vouch that this has been the biggest change in my life and the best possible move I could have made.
So what things actually change?
1. You find out who your true friends are.
This one will shock you. Remember that person you used to go to dinner with or spent countless nights finding a party or get together to go to with? That person magically fades away. The convenience of you being down the road is no longer an option and that person has now found a new acquaintance who has replaced you. Your genuine friends will continue to invite you to be a part of whatever and most will plan to spend time with you or come see you.
2. You no longer have a close-minded perception of everything.
I remember going to a grocery store and hearing the small town gossip from aisle to aisle. I remember how one-sided most issues were and if you weren't on board, your opinion was irrelevant. Now I can go to the store and not know a single person and have an opinion about anything I want and not have to worry about being shunned.
3. You suddenly turn into a mystery.
This one is great. People will start wondering where you went or what you've been up to. When I call my parents, I always get a good laugh from the conversations they've had with others who wonder what I'm up to. My favorite quote that relates to this is, “The less you reveal, the more people can wonder."
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4.You are suddenly a nobody in your new community, and it's great.
I have a bad habit of trying to avoid people I know, so when I go into stores or do anything in public, I love being a nobody. I love being able to do all of my grocery shopping without being interrupted or asked about school.
5. You appreciate the small hometown things more.
I'm not going to lie, I cringe thinking about making a trip home, but that pizza place I had four times a week and those margaritas that my friends and I would gulp down when celebrating everything from a birthday to making it through a rough day at work suddenly become luxury items. You enjoy those country cruises and those salty fries so much more when you're away.
6. You start to find yourself.
I left this one for last because it's by far the most important thing that's happened to me. I got stuck thinking I needed to be married by 22 and have a family by the time I was 27. I no longer think this. I finally have a bucket list that involves so much more than beating my best friend in a keg stand at the annual town bonfire. I have found who I am through solely relying on me and the things that make me happy.
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Don't get me wrong, I love my hometown. It's made me who I am today, but even if it's only for six months, escape your small town. Get away and experience the world. Don't wait until it's too late. It's great out here!