Each winter break, Princeton’s young adults come back home for festivities and fun with family and friends. They reminisce about their memories in Panera Bread and their walks around Palmer square. They try to relive their midnight trips to Hoagie Haven, but they can’t help but feel like it is forced. And the truth is that it is. The trips to town aren’t enough anymore. The trips to Thomas Sweet’s don't suffice. The walk to the Palmer Square Christmas tree isn’t as exciting. It is a whole new experience.
However, no one really talks about the root of the problem.
All of these people returning from college, boarding school, and study abroad programs come back as changed individuals. They have left the bubble of Princeton, New Jersey to experience the world for themselves. They’ve left their tiny hometown and have been exposed to a reality. They’ve popped their bubbles and broke their routine stops to get bubble tea and frozen yogurt to go out and experience something real that changes them. These experiences leave them wanting more. They crave to learn more, experience more, and give more. Princeton just is not enough for these individuals.
When they come back home it seems that home might not be Princeton anymore. It is a shock at first, but once the thought is digested that home is always changing these eternal members of the Princeton community realize they have the power to propel change within Princeton on their visits back. They have the power to encourage others to leave and experience something real for themselves.
But if everyone realizes that Princeton is much too small (literally and figuratively) and cannot meet the needs of its members to learn more and experience more from the world, what does this mean for Princeton as a town? Does it mean that Princeton is a bad town? Does this mean that Princeton is never going to be enough for each new generation of young adults that pass through the halls of Princeton’s high schools? No. And that is because Princeton is home for many who are content with the simplicity of their lives and the reliability of a routine. There are some members of Princeton who go on to study at Princeton University who believe that the university provides a unique experience.
It is important to note that this lifestyle is good for some, and for others…well, not so much. There are others who crave more that community of Princeton just cannot provide. But the point is, they’ll always come back. Although they’ll come back changed, they will provide a new perspective for the community and maybe even shake up that routine.
So think about your place in your community. Think about if you need to get out. If you do, you’ll find a way. But chances are, you’ll always circle back around.