Last weekend, I brought some school friends home for Easter break for the second year in a row. Since Easter fell so soon after spring break this year, many people opted to stay on campus to avoid a costly flight for a long weekend away. I have the pleasure of living a few hour car ride away from South Bend, so heading home for a few days was a no-brainer.
When I introduced my friends to my hometown last year, I was nervous that they’d think it was lame. No, we don’t have big malls, tons of museums or concert venues, or other tourist destinations. Many people I know at school live in or near exciting cities that I’ve never visited and are still on my travel bucket list. Since I don’t live in a big city or suburb, I felt that I was at an instant disadvantage.
If you know me, you know I talk about my hometown quite frequently, often with a healthy amount of self-deprecating humor. Taking jabs at the mediocrity of my hometown has become my go-to way to compensate for what I felt was my uninteresting background, giving me something I could joke about and be proud of. “Hey,” my actions would say, “I come from a boring place, but it’s okay because I can overcome it and acknowledge it.”
Before moving to college, my classmates and friends talked nonstop about how they wanted to get out of my hometown. It didn’t matter what they wanted to accomplish in life, the most important thing was to leave and hopefully never come back. I adopted this train of thought without realizing it, picturing myself five to ten years down the road in somewhere more exciting, more fun, with more opportunities – always more. This seems to be a common sentiment felt by kids all over the country, no matter where they come from.
College has been a great experience so far. I’ve made some awesome friends, gotten involved in interesting organizations, taken fascinating classes (and some not-so-fascinating ones), and have learned a lot about myself in the process. But I also really love going home. At home, I can completely be myself. I know the city like the back of my hand and have a group of great friends there, too. My family is there, and at the end of the day I really enjoy spending time with my parents. Although I’ve learned a lot at school, I still feel the most comfortable at home, where I grew up and made so many great memories.
Admitting you love your hometown or just like being home in general isn’t lame, even though it’s often seen as such. At the beginning of breaks, many people profess their love of college and how they don’t want to go home and how much they’re looking forward to coming back. People think that you’re not making the most of your college experience if you identify as a homebody. At a school like Notre Dame, where getting that big summer internship in the city is the ultimate goal, going home for the summer is seen almost like a failure.
People who head home for the summer instead of traveling or taking a big-time internship for the summer are not failures. Those who move back to their hometown after graduation aren’t going to waste their degree. You don’t have to move to Chicago to have a successful post-grad life after Notre Dame. (Laugh all you want, but 48% of the Notre Dame Class of 2014 reported living in the US Midwest after graduation – no wonder ND has such a strong Chicago influence!)
Be proud of where you come from, whether that is a big city or a tiny farming town. Your hometown shaped who you are today, and you should never feel ashamed of where you came from just because it’s different than the majority. If you get excited to go home for breaks, don’t fret. You aren’t a lesser college student because of it. Be proud of who you are and where you came from, and the rest will fall into place.