I grew up in a small town of roughly 8,000 people. No chain establishments, nothing really open past 10 pm, and virtually no chance you can go out and not see someone you know. Towns like these are who you are. Literally everywhere in the town is flooded with memories of your childhood. You know who owns the downtown stores and who is working which nights at your favorite restaurants. It's all you know, and you know it so well.
I love my town. It's my home, it made me who I am now. It gave me a place to come home to on breaks after I decided to move 3,000 miles away to go to a great nursing school. Yep. As much as I love my town, I left. Let me just say that leaving isn't easy and I miss my home and my family very much. For me, however, it was worth it.
I left with the idea that I might fall in love with where I went to school and possibly want to stay there permanently. While I have fallen in love with the school and I love my people there, I know that after graduation, I'll most likely be headed home (at least I'd be more than open to it).
Leaving is also scary. Just imagine, at 18 leaving everything you've ever known and moving across the country. Doing the adult thing with no immediate fallback. No trips home so your parents can help when you're sick or help with laundry, or when you're stressed. That's scary. It's also an amazing feeling when you prove to yourself that you can do it. You're capable and you'll be okay. You'll be more than okay. You'll love the people and the customs of wherever you go. You'll make a new routine and new memories with new people. You'll make a second home, and you honestly might be a little sad to leave for the summer.
For me personally, I have seen tremendous growth in my self-confidence because of my move. I am so grateful that I have the chance to discover who I am for myself – away from my hometown, family, and the idea of who I was then. I've also gained a sense of security in my abilities. I'm a pro flyer, I figure out all my transportation, make and get myself to appointments, make my own schedule, and explore my own interests.
If I can offer any words of advice, it would be to go. Going does NOT mean you love your town, your family, or your friends any less. It just means that you get to figure out what it means to be your own person. You'll miss your town, your friends, and your family... and you'll come back to your home with a new appreciation and a better sense of who you are.