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Living In Your Hometown When You Feel You’ve Outgrown It

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at BU chapter.

I talk about my hometown a lot — to the point where its name is a common conversation topic among my college friends, and its existence is a defining part of my personality. I reminisce on the late nights spent at my hometown’s coffee shop, on the sleepless nights where all there was to do was drive around mindlessly, and on all the formative memories spent in that minuscule place.

I rave about silly little Connecticut when I’m in its complete opposite, hours away in a city with endless things to do. Yet when I’m back home, I can’t help but remember why I moved to the furthest thing from it (not distance-wise, I won’t give Boston too much credit). The small town charm it has now dwindles down to all the negatives of the word “small.” There’s nothing to do, and I’m reminded of how constraining the mundane day-to-day feels like. And worse: I feel myself moving backward.

How could this be? How could I be so content with my hometown when I’m away from it and seem to inevitably loathe it when I return for its summers and winters?

This convoluted relationship forces an imposter-like relationship with my hometown. I can’t be its biggest fan in Boston while being its biggest hater when I’m actually there. Does that mean I don’t actually like it? If it’s only beautiful, homey, and wonderfully small when I’m nowhere near it? Coincidentally, I’m writing this article as I’m in my hometown for spring break — because I don’t want to hate it anymore. I’m exploring my relationship with Branford, CT, and all its intricacies to hopefully explain my dichotomous feelings.

I’ve found that this mindset is heavily influenced by my friends, the ones who feel similarly and have also outgrown our town. We avoid our high school as much as possible and cringe at old activities that were constants in our lives. But over time, even after never-ending slander, those old activities welcome us with open arms. We still drive to our close-by Target and IKEA with no shopping list in mind, we still watch the same movies in a rotation of friends’ basements and couches, and confusingly, we’re still the youthful high schoolers that we grew out of. 

In these examples, I’ve realized the secret of living in your hometown when you’ve outgrown it: You never outgrew it. Perhaps in some ways you did — you’ll never catch me at a high school football game, and I will continue to be embarrassingly immature and avoid certain people. But the truth is that those childhood and teenage memories don’t have to collect dust in your memories. Summer pool days and holiday movie marathons are still equally as fun as they were years ago. Your favorite flavor of ice cream still tastes as good as it did the summer before you left for college. And the love for your hometown is still there when you start practicing gratitude for these mundane moments. 

After releasing my inescapable, insatiable desire to do more, I’ve discovered the second secret of living in my small town: redefining what “living” means. I move into the slow lifestyle my small town brings me and code-switch into a version of me that I forgot existed. Instead of being someone who needs to live like college students on social media do (which is a problem in and of itself), I redefine what “living” really means and remind myself that I truly have time (and that a slow lifestyle does not equate to a bad life). I fill the slow moments with books, TV shows, and music. I replace Friday nights out with staying in and watching a childhood movie with my parents. And above all, I’m staying grateful for moments I’m scared I’ll never get again. 

One day I won’t wake up to the sound of birds and my mom arguing with her sister on the phone, nor will I be able to call my friend and grab ice cream in the span of 10 minutes. And above all, one day, I won’t be able to call my childhood hometown my home anymore. 

So, for the time being, I’ll say I hate it in order to prove my emotional growth spurt. But in all its quietness and stagnancy, I’ll breathe in its air and smile that after all this time and growth, I still fit in in my own peculiar and remarkable way. 

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Ash is a sophomore at Boston University, studying Public Relations at the College of Communication and minoring in Environmental Analysis and Policy. In her free time, she loves to curate Spotify playlists, watch New Girl, and be surrounded by nature!