Being raised in a town that didn't have a population of over 10,000 people meant that I spent most of my days driving with the same friends, going out of town to go shopping and having an endless number of bonfires. I, of course, never really took the time to reflect on how this lifestyle actually benefited me.
For years, I had a rather negative mindset when it came to even thinking about where I lived. But lately, as I prepare to move on and attend post-secondary, I've realized that the place I call home has done some amazing things for me when it comes to preparing me for the real world.
It taught me how to build close bonds with the people surrounding me.
Personal Photo (Credit to Michael Coombs)
I hadn't considered how strong my relationships with people were until my final year of high school. Since elementary school, I had been in the same class with the same 30 people, all the way up to graduation. Sure, things got annoying sometimes, and being around the exact same peers every day caused some arguments every now and then. However, I really didn't consider that this environment helped me when it came to building bonds with others.
Everybody attended the same parties. Friends usually hung out in the same groups for years on end. Those who I chose to spend the majority of my time with, whether it was inside or outside of school, are the ones I know I will have a lifelong friendship with - they're my people. Because I spent so many years with them by my side, I learned how to keep strong relationships with others, and I learned how to properly handle any conflicts that arise in everyday life.
It showed me the importance of being environmentally conscious.
Personal Photo (Credit to Miranda Caley)
My town is covered in natural beauty — from the forests to the mountains, all the way to the view of the Atlantic Ocean. It's truly a remarkable little area. It's not uncommon to find garbage everywhere, though. But unlike residing in a large city, where garbage is a given, there's something about a small town that makes you want to preserve its appearance.
Recycling is huge where I'm from, and so is avoiding littering at all costs. A lot of the time, small towns are, oddly enough, tourist attractions. So, it's important to ensure they look pretty. Of course, that isn't the only reason — and that certainly isn't what motivated me to do my best to keep the grounds clean.
The aesthetic of nature is unlike anything you could find in a city. I loved exploring it and picking up anything that hindered that beauty. I know that I will continue to have this mindset as I move forward in life, and it will definitely benefit not only me but the planet as well.
It proved to me that the little things in life have the biggest impact.
Personal Photo (Credit to Miranda Caley)
In smaller towns, there are so many little things to appreciate — the kindness of my neighbors, the culture of the area, you name it. The small gestures of kindness that come with knowing essentially everybody in my town helped make me much more personable. They taught me just how much of an impact I can have on someone, just by simply telling them they're doing a great job on something.
The lack of technology, malls and other infrastructures that strengthened my connection with nature helped make me much more grateful for what I had. I was able to sit out on my back step and stargaze without the toxic fumes from factories blocking them.
I felt safe living where I did. I was able to go on walks by myself at night without the fear of being attacked by somebody. We could leave our doors unlocked because our neighbors certainly had our backs if anything were to happen while we were away.
If anything ever felt unsafe, I was able to tell almost immediately. The sense of security helped me with my trust and instincts.
Small towns sometimes get bad reputations that they definitely don't deserve. Sure, there are a limited amount of things to do, but the ones that are available do help you in the long run. From being capable of building incredibly strong relationships to knowing the importance of taking care of the environment, to simply appreciating the tiniest things in life, I've grown into what I would consider a decent human being.
The place you call home truly shapes you into who you are, and personally, I wouldn't change a thing about where I'm from.