I grew up in a town whose public high school had a population that was smaller than 1/3 of my graduating class at Bryant.
So, coming to Bryant and finding out I was a part of a 500(+) student graduating class and a campus of 3000(+) people was overwhelming.
I grew up knowing every single person in all of my classes and in my neighborhood – the kind of town that you could drive through in two minutes or less. I like to think that’s why I was drawn to Smithfield. Although it’s a good five and a half hours away from my hometown, Smithfield reminds me of home in some ways – it’s a small area that no one ever knows about, on the outskirts of a well-known city.
Although there are some similarities, it was hard adjusting when I finally got to Bryant. I come from a large agriculture town in the middle of nowhere (to put this in perspective, my house and high school are surrounded by cornfields and farms). My hometown is located about an hour outside of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, which is normally how I describe where I live to people when I’m asked.
Growing up, I was always surrounded by people I knew from my childhood. I grew up in the kind of environment where my mom taught at my local high school and coached my high school field hockey team for the duration of my career – I was always “Mrs. Lambert’s daughter”. For me, there was no escaping my given “identity” at home.
I feel like I’ve grown so used to people knowing me at home that it was a shock coming to Bryant and being able to start over. Subconsciously, I felt as if I went so far away from home on purpose. Being five hours (give or take some time) from home gave me the ability to create my own identity and reputation for myself, something I had never experienced before.
I could finally have teachers/professors that didn’t know my older sister or mom, and could just get to know ME.
It was a refreshing feeling in a sense, to close that chapter of my life – the one where everyone knew me because of my family.
Leaving my hometown was a freeing but terrifying experience. I often miss the familiarity of the area I grew up in, especially being five minutes away from the closest Wawa (kind of like a Cumberland Farms, but better). I miss the small local businesses where I held my birthday parties as a kid and where my family would go to eat when the power went out because of a storm (which was ALL the time).
However, Smithfield does have a similar vibe as my hometown – small businesses with friendly owners and a welcoming community. Honestly, I miss my hometown, but I wouldn’t trade my experience in Rhode Island for anything. It took a lot for me to move so far from home, and I think it was the best option for me. As great as my area is, I felt like I would’ve felt trapped if I stayed.
With that being said, my hometown isn’t just a part of my upbringing, it’s a part of me. I adopted my “take time to smell the roses” attitude from growing up in a town that had no police force and very little crime – if you’re at all familiar with country music, it was the kind of area that is often referenced in those songs. I adopted my love of nature and outdoors from growing up in an area with hiking trails, groves, and woods right in my backyard.
I’ll never tell my family this, but I think leaving my hometown was the hardest thing I’ve ever done.
I love the area I grew up in, and temporarily living in another area makes me appreciate my home more every time I visit. I really love Rhode Island, the opportunities I’ve been given, and areas I’ve seen whilst living here, but I personally don’t think anything could ever compare to the area where I grew up – frankly because it is more a part of me than it is a dot on a map.
What was it like to leave your small town?