10 Signs You Probably Lived in a Small Town

I grew up in Madison, Florida, a small town about 65 miles away from Tallahassee. While Madison does have its flaws, when I look back on my childhood there is nowhere else that I would rather have grown up than in a small town. If you identify with any of the examples below, there’s a chance that you spent some time in what's considered a small town!

1. Fridays are for football.

If your town is anything like mine, football games on Friday nights are community events and everyone piles into the stands to cheer on the football team. Even if you’re not a big fan of football, you probably still went to the games to hang out with your friends in the student section or to enjoy the concession stand. Of course, as a former band geek, I will make sure to acknowledge two other key components of Friday nights, which are the band and cheerleaders who continually support the team regardless of where the games are held.

Cowboy athletics, in general, unified my community. Regardless of age, race or class, Madison County packed the gym for basketball games, cheered for our football team and kept tabs on the baseball team each year.

2. Everyone knows everyone.

You can’t go anywhere in a small town without running into a former classmate or a family friend. If something happens in the morning, by the end of the day everyone knows about it.

3. This carries over into school, too.

Your teachers have also taught your siblings and cousins. They may have also gone to school with your parents, or in some cases, taught them, too. You get to hear stories about your relatives from their adolescence that you may not have known before.

4. Your teachers are also your coaches.

Oftentimes, teachers double as the coaches of various sports in small towns. The football coach usually teaches P.E. but your academic teachers also coach sports teams. You may see your history, math or criminal justice teacher at volleyball, tennis or baseball practices.

5. There usually isn’t traffic.

You only experience “traffic” at certain times of the day. The roads are usually busier in the mornings, at noon and from four to five in the afternoon, but otherwise, it’s very rare to sit in traffic. In fact, Madison has less than five stoplights in the entire county.

6. If you want to go to the mall, you have to leave the county.

Madison County doesn’t have a mall. Or a Walmart. The closest we get to either of those options is by driving out of the county or by crossing state lines and shopping in Georgia. This is common in many other small towns.

With a lack of options for entertainment, people usually spend their weekends going to movies and shopping, bowling and eating from a more diverse variety of restaurants in other cities. One thing my friends and I always did was take pointless trips to Walmart after our festivities had concluded. We’d wander around the aisles and grab cakes from the bakery before eventually returning home.

7. Graduations are short.

My graduating class had less than 300 students in it. Graduations take 45 minutes to an hour from start to finish.

8. You value a good old-fashioned parked car conversation.

Some of my favorite memories involve sitting around the lake or in a parking lot talking to my friends. There’s nothing better than listening to the radio while having deep (or not so deep) conversations with friends.

9. Yes, you do get stuck behind farm equipment at some point in your life.

Let’s be honest, it happens.

10. When describing where you’re from, you use major cities as landmarks.

When asked, “Where are you from,” you automatically use a nearby city as a reference point. “I’m X miles away from Tallahassee.” Or in some cases, it’s just easier to say that you’re from that bigger city.

Regardless of the quirks and, at times, boring qualities of Madison, home is home. Small towns allow their citizens to forge friendships that can last a lifetime, especially since the majority of the people that you graduate with you’ve known since kindergarten. Coming from a small town can create a strong sense of community among the people that live there, especially when they rally together behind a common goal. A small town is not perfect though, and some people may feel limited by their hometowns, but where you come from does not define you. You can strive for your dreams and explore the world that is much larger than the confines of your community, with the reassurance that there will always be people back home to support you. I wouldn’t want to be from anywhere else.

All GIFs courtesy of Giphy.