At seventeen, I loaded my little Ford and headed north. I left my one-horse hometown for college, five hours away. Was I terrified? Most definitely, yes. But it was needed and I was so ready.
I do not hate my family. They are not abusive, they are not demeaning, and besides the constant string of sarcasm to and from my siblings, my family and I never share a crossword. I am lucky. I have everything I could ever ask for, and then some. My college education has been paid for, my car was practically given to me, and I have never worked an hour of involuntary manual labor. My parents are still married and I have lived in the same house since I was born. But believe me when I say that I had to leave.
When growing up in a small town, you forget the rest of the world even exists.
You get into the habit of seeing the same people in the dairy section at the grocery store, buying the same drinks at the corner gas station, and living day-in and day-out as though you have no great goals in life. The standard political views are shared by everyone in the town, everybody knows which section your family sits in at church, and your in-law was most likely your first-grade teacher.
It traps you. It holds you down, and everyone tells you, “You’ll be back eventually.” I needed to make the decision myself.
I need to be released of the traditions affiliated with being a “homebody.” I need to be alone, forming my own opinions, escaping the cliques, and experiencing the life that cannot be provided at home.
By this, I do not mean I want to become the life of the party, thriving on night-life, and discarding every aspect of my hospitable and southern personality that originated at home. Further, I intend no disrespect to the one reading this that chose to stay. Everyone should have the decision; however, you must understand that what I want is the freedom to experience culture and language, to experience unrestrained traditions, and to finally throw away the natural inhibition caused by living a routine life.
I am not complaining about the way I was raised. On the contrary, because of my background, I am confident that anywhere in the world I may go, I will always have a home to return to.
I love my home, my family, and the gun-toting friends that are associated with them. It has taught me humility, kindness, and the potential power of a loving family. I appreciate everything I have. But I want more and I refuse to settle for anything less than the best life I can imagine for myself.