Murphysboro: where memories, best friendships, mistakes, growth, and life experiences will always hold a very special place in my heart. Most young adults like myself couldn't wait to get up and leave all of their small town problems behind. A new future meant a new life, and a new beginning.
After being away for almost two whole years now, one thing I will say is, "Don't be in such a hurry to grow up, because being on your own and starting over is SUPER scary." I don't want to say that to scare you though because "scary" can be good and SO exciting.
I'm proud to say that my small town taught me to always look at the bigger picture and appreciate the small things. It taught me that it's OK to make mistakes, it taught me to take relationships seriously, it taught me to be strong, it taught me that life doesn't wait for you to get back up, it taught me that it's OK to leave. Life is really quick and we hear that SO often, almost a little too much. My town may not have much, but it has love, character, history, memories, and my heart.
My small town showed me that leaving a lifetime of habits, is in fact, OK!! Stepping outside your small town will always be frightening, by soon you will realize that; that little dot on the map that some people didn't know existed will always be YOUR home and that home doesn't need to be just one zip code.
1. Everyone Knows Everyone
Sure, living in a place where everyone knows everyone and EVERYTHING can be really frustrating but you when you look at it from a different perspective, it's what brings your town closer. When you do something really good, you are recognized by almost the WHOLE town.
From your high school recognizing you to the local businesses showing their support on their signs. When you mess up, you have people that hold you accountable for your mistakes and keep you inline. (I mean come on, did you really think your parents would never find out??). When something bad happened, it becomes personal. When one person hurts, the whole town hurts.
2. Home-cooked Meals
Wow, I never thought I would miss something SO much. Living off pizza rolls, ramen noodles, and frozen TV dinners can get really old and not to mention: unhealthy. Oh, how I will always wonder how I will be able to cook like my mom or actually have the energy too.
3. Your Comfort Zone
How do you meet people when you move to a town where you know NO ONE at all??? Yeah, I had no idea either and I cried about it A LOT. I learned though, that stepping out of my comfort zone was something that I had to do. I am such an outgoing person around people I know, but there's a little shell you have to get through when you first meet me. SO I had to get past that, AND IT WAS HARD.
From asking people in my classes if they had a pencil (even if I already had one) then introducing myself, making connections at work, getting to know my guests, and just simply putting myself out into the world. THE WHOLE REALITY OF LIFE THOUGH, is stepping out of your comfort zone. Don't get too caught in a routine and take time to self-reflect.
4. Dirt Roads
Clearing your head on a dirt road after a long hard stressful day or week isn't a choice anymore. Listening to music and wasting gas driving around with your friends isn't a choice anymore. You have to find something else and something new to get you through those times...maybe even save a little money on gas, too.
5. People Know Where Your Town Is
"I'm from Southern Illinois" "Oh so you mean Chicago??" Nice try, but Chicago is 7 hours away from my little home town. I wish you could see how different my town of cornfields and flood water compares to Chicago.
6. Small Town Friends
Have I met amazing people even best friends moving away from home? YES. Will I always miss and talk about my friends from home? YES.
Those people were with me through some of my hardest times growing into the girl I am today. They're the friends that I started Pre-School with and the ones I graduated high school with. They are the ones that will always be apart of my life no matter how far apart we move from each other.
Never forget where you came from but don't be afraid of the welcome arms your new town welcomes you with.
7. You Never Feel Alone
No one knows who you are. You are just another face in the crowd going on with their everyday life, just like everyone else, and that my friend, is very terrifying. No ones knows your life stories, no one knows your car, no one knows where your house is, no one knows you at the grocery store anymore.
8. Hiding From Your Fears
I thought I knew who I was and exactly what I wanted when I left my small town. Yeah, I was COMPLETELY WRONG. I went through so many changes and went through the whole process of finding myself again. It's been an amazing adventure though. Don't get too caught up in sticking to "normal." Let life do its thing, and really live it.
To my friends, my readers, my little sister: Don't be afraid to live a little. Never settle in this big big world. The truth is, you will go through a million open doors just to see that there is just as many closed ones... and that's OK, because that's all about growing and experiencing. Life is a rollercoaster, growing up is a rollercoaster.
Your roots are planted in your small town, that place you called home your whole life will always be waiting for you to come back for a visit. Don't worry about that. You need to grow. That tiny dot on the map will always have a heart for you, just like you have a heart for it.