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

When I was younger, my mom would often take me and my siblings to the beach in the evenings. I remember standing high up on the rocks, looking at the line between the sky and the ocean, and thinking “there it is. The edge of the world.”

I grew up in a very small town. When I say small, I don’t mean Gravenhurst, Ontario small. I mean a town with roughly 400 people, where everyone knows everyone. There exists one grocery store, one gas station, one church, one park, and about three restaurants. Growing up, this was the world I knew. And it’s all I thought there was.

Outgrowing the place you once called home is a strange phenomenon. I think I’ve been in the process of doing it for a long time, but never realized it until I moved to a bigger city outside my province. 

To be completely and brutally honest, I never felt like I fit in on Prince Edward Island. I know that’s a bold claim to make, to feel like an entire province isn’t suited to you, but it rings true for me. That doesn’t make me better than anyone else who feels perfectly at home there, and I would never want to make someone feel lesser than for wanting to live there. I love the island so dearly, just not enough to stay there forever.

Growing up, I always got the feeling that on P.E.I., your worth was determined by the people you hung out with. While I know this is an unfortunately common way of life for highschoolers everywhere, the problem with P.E.I. is that the hierarchy extends far beyond high school into adulthood. Based on the conversations I’ve witnessed between my parents and their friends, there are still people on the island you should avoid being seen with well into your 40s. 

I’m not really sure who I was in highschool. I wasn’t well known, but people definitely knew of me. I wasn’t hated, but I wasn’t well liked either. I spent grade 10 trying so desperately hard to be nice to everyone and avoid doing anything that would make me a social pariah, but I still found myself on the outskirts of all the action. I didn’t belong to any group, and was always perpetually out of the loop.

Strangely, I’m thankful that I went through this. It allowed me more time to focus on school, figure out who I wanted to be, and get more excited about the future. Social success in high school can seem so important at the time, yet hilariously insignificant in hindsight.

The norm after graduation was to go to UPEI or Holland College, or get a job right out of highschool if you’re lucky. I can name about six people from my school that I know went off-island for post-secondary. People looked at me funny when I said I was going to the University of King’s College, a school that’s literally a four hour drive away from my house. I was made to feel like having big dreams was abnormal; why would someone choose to live a somewhat challenging life in a big city over a simple life in a beautiful place they know so well?

After seeing, doing, and changing so much since I moved away for university, coming back to my hometown for the summer initially felt like a stunt in my personal growth. Many of my friends are out travelling the world, working at amazing jobs, and seizing all opportunities that come their way. Meanwhile, I’m watching Community at my parents’ house. 

This year was probably my last full summer on P.E.I., and from the start I knew I wanted it to be different. I’ve had so much time to work on myself and pursue things that will help me build the future I want. I’ve started learning about screenwriting, and have written a few practice scripts for short films I want to make. I purchased my first camera, and have been honing my photography and videography skills. I put more time into practicing guitar and writing songs I hope to perform one day. I explored parts of the island I had never seen before.

While I could have let this summer deplete my growth, I’ve used the ample time I’ve been given to grow even more. Instead of wallowing in self pity over being placed back at square one, I decided to use square one to build a catapult that will slingshot me to square ten. This summer, I’ve realized I don’t hate my hometown, not at all; I only hated the person I was before I left. Now I know I don’t have to be that person. I only stop growing if I build barriers.

The other day, I got up to watch the sunrise on the beach. I stood high up on the rocks, looking at the line where the ocean meets the sky, the same one I fixated on as a child. Around 5:45 AM, a burning pink circle began to emerge from the line, bringing with it many beautiful shades of red, orange, yellow and purple that painted the whole sky. I used to think that line was the edge of the world. Now I know there is so much more.

Kaitlyn MacNeill

Dalhousie '24

My name is Kaitlyn MacNeill, and I'm a second-year journalism student at the University of King's College in Halifax, Nova Scotia. I've been newly appointed as a member of the editing team for Her Campus Dalhousie/King's. I have a passion for movies, fashion, music and photography.