To The Town In My Rearview Mirror

To The Town In My Rearview Mirror

Thank God for hometowns
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Dear Hometown:

Hey, it's me. You know, the girl who always dreamed of other places, new people, and new opportunities? The girl who was too shy to admit that this town couldn't offer everything that she dreamed of? The girl who eventually realized that she had to get out of this one-light town and experience other parts of the country where people didn't know her name let alone her entire family history. But, unlike so many others who have grown up and live in that town, she didn't just talk about leaving this town in her rearview mirror she became one of the few who actually did.

Leaving home at 18-years-old is a mix of many emotions: fear, excitement, optimism.

Did I mention fear? Yeah, there's a lot of that.

Moving hours away from home when I'd never really traveled outside of the town that I grew up in was completely out of my comfort zone. In fact, it was something that many people didn't think that I'd ever do and were skeptical that I actually could. But I did. I moved hours away from home, from my family, from my friends, from all things that were familiar to a place that I'd only been to twice before full of new people and places.

At first, I was petrified. As much as I tried to convince myself that I loved my new hometown it didn't feel like home. It was hard to move from a place where I knew everyone to a place where there were no friendly faces. The people talked of places I'd never been (let alone heard of). It was hard to fit in and make friends when it was obvious that I was a "transplant." (Example: Being asked the classic college question, "So, where are you from?" To which many respond a county within W.Va. and I stare at them with the look of obvious confusion because I hardly know other cities in W.Va. other than the one I live in let alone the counties...).

It seemed like this new town would never be home and I would always be missing the town that I left in my rearview mirror. But, thankfully, I adapted to the West Virginia ways... a little bit. (I'll still never understand why they do some of the things they do but it's okay).

Even though I'll always be a "transplant," I'll forever be thankful that I left my hometown in the rearview mirror and set out for a place completely unknown. I've learned so many things about myself that I don't know I would've discovered if I would've stayed in the town that I was comfortable in.

I'm so thankful that in my new hometown where I've had to figure out everything all on my own that I have successfully done so. I can get around town like a champ (I've even discovered a few short-cuts), I can handle adult things like grocery shopping, money management, laundry, dishes and even a leaky pipe. I discovered my own personal strength which may have been the biggest blessing of all. Had I not have left my hometown, I'm not sure I would have become the strong, independent person I am today.

So, to the town in my rear-view mirror, thank you for everything.

Mostly, thank you for providing me a tight-knit community to have grown up in. There were many times I was sheltered from the harsh realities of the world I've discovered in my new hometown but I wouldn't trade that community for the world. I know that no matter where I go, if ever I go home to the town that build me, there will always be a friendly face and countless memories flooding my mind of times gone by.

Cover Image Credit: Asian Voice

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3 Reasons Why Step Dads Are Super Dads

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I often hear a lot of people complaining about their step-parents and wondering why they think that they have any authority over them. Although I know that everyone has different situations, I will be the first to admit that I am beyond blessed to have a step dad. Yep, I said it. My life wouldn't be the same that it is not without him in it. Let me tell you why I think step dads are the greatest things since sliced bread.

1. They will do anything for you, literally.

My stepdad has done any and every thing for me. From when I was little until now. He was and still is my go-to. If I was hungry, he would get me food. If something was broken, he would fix it. If I wanted something, he would normally always find a way to get it. He didn't spoil me (just sometimes), but he would make sure that I was always taken care of.

SEE ALSO: The Thank You That Step-Parents Deserve

2. Life lessons.

Yup, the tough one. My stepdad has taught me things that I would have never figured out on my own. He has stood beside me through every mistake. He has been there to pick me up when I am down. My stepdad is like the book of knowledge: crazy hormonal teenage edition. Boy problems? He would probably make me feel better. He just always seemed to know what to say. I think that the most important lesson that I have learned from my stepdad is: to never give up. My stepdad has been through three cycles of leukemia. He is now in remission, yay!! But, I never heard him complain. I never heard him worry and I never saw him feeling sorry for himself. Through you, I found strength.

3. He loved me as his own.

The big one, the one that may seem impossible to some step parents. My stepdad is not actually my stepdad, but rather my dad. I will never have enough words to explain how grateful I am for this man, which is why I am attempting to write this right now. It takes a special kind of human to love another as if they are their own. There had never been times where I didn't think that my dad wouldn't be there for me. It was like I always knew he would be. He introduces me as his daughter, and he is my dad. I wouldn't have it any other way. You were able to show me what family is.

So, dad... thanks. Thanks for being you. Thanks for being awesome. Thanks for being strong. Thanks for loving me. Thanks for loving my mom. Thanks for giving me a wonderful little sister. Thanks for being someone that I can count on. Thanks for being my dad.

I love you!

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Kids Are Growing Up Too Quickly, And It's A Serious Problem

Jojo Siwa and Bhad Bhabie are the SAME AGE. Enough said.

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Today's children are finding themselves having midlife-crisis at the mere age of 12. With pressures from social media and an ever-present culture that asks children to put their most attractive foot forward, childhood is a diminished time period that is replaced with shaky adolescence. With the innocence and delicacy of youth slipping away from the fingertips of today's kids, we find that childhood itself is near extinction.

You see, children are being encouraged into independence much younger than necessary. They are expected to provide for themselves and form their own opinions and emotions much earlier than what is healthy for them in the long run. This rush all stems, however, from parental pressure, the media's influence, and the shame the modern world puts on dependency. Beginning with parental pressures, parents pack maturity into kids' heads by signing us up for technique-intense soccer camps, hiring reading tutors for kindergartners, and composing preschool applications as soon as they find out they are pregnant.

Parents strip away the sense of security and youth these children should have by constantly providing them a view of the future.

Beyond this, the emergence of social media as a common form of validation forces children to believe that the only way for them to receive any form of validation is to act in the manner of their role models and other celebrities. These celebrities, generally much older than the children who idolize them, become the framework for what children wish to become. It stands as an open gateway for girls and boys to venture into adulthood, without the necessary barrier of childhood.

Aside from parental pressure and the media, the modern world places shame on dependency for young kids. In our modern world, we see a toxic combination of marketing, media, and peer pressure pushing for independence. Whether it be a show, where a young boy goes out on his own and travels the world, or a friend, who is advising you that footie pajamas are too babyish. This deadly mixture places humiliation on young kids, constructing an even more secure barrier against dependency, an important component for development.

The effects of this push are outstandingly tragic and numerous. On a large scale, depression and other related factors have been found to be an effect to "hurried-child syndrome". In smaller, but just as serious terms, identity crises of our youth have been deemed an effect of this issue.

In the essence of dark matter, propelling the youth into their adolescence before they are ready has given leeway to drug and alcohol abuse, sexual fears, stress-related illnesses, burnout, and increasingly, suicide. Childhood is an age of innocence, to learn about the world with a lighthearted filter, and to experience life with naivety. It's important to our development, and without it, the misplaced life experience can be converted into poor life decisions and even worse views.

Amongst depression and it's related and devastating relations, we see identity crises uncovering themselves in the youngsters that shouldn't have a care in the world. The kids feel neglected and unparented. They mourn the loss of childhood and experience what looks like a midlife crisis in their mere teens. They feel empty in their adolescence.

The solutions themselves, however, are much simpler than one would expect. In order to allow kids to not feel succumbed to "hurried-child syndrome" society must simply pronounce dependence and disintegrate the stigma of growth. So allow me to tuck you in with a bedtime story, of soluble hope.

Begin by pronouncing dependence: Dependency is not something to be ashamed of. Instead, it should be protected. It is normal to need help every now and then because that is how we as humans learn and adapt to the world around us. Encourage inquisition and safeguard curiosity, because these acts of dependence are what allow us to grow into strong individuals in the future.

Amongst this, we can disintegrate the stigma of growth. Rather than deciding that children should be focusing on their future career path when they are a simple child, live in the moment. Childhood is quick, and if we continue to shorten it, a time that should be savored, won't be evident enough to leave a mark. We can stop stripping away youth by informing ourselves on children's developmental needs, recognizing what constitutes "quality childcare," and understanding that there is a danger to the consumerist screen-based lifestyle we live.

Perhaps I'm bitter that most children know how to dress better than I do, or maybe I'm just angry that not every kid had a "Justice" phase. Beyond my bitterness, the idea of a rushed childhood is something that should be considered and something that should be changed. Whether it be with your little sister, your baby cousin, or the kids you babysit, every single person can play a role in changing the modern culture of childhood into one that benefits and secures the innocence of childhood for what it should be. Because after all, kids should be kids.

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