Everyone has this idealized version of what they want their college experience to be and who they are going to be while living out this idea. The weird thing is, when you get to college, you can completely re-invent yourself. You could go by a different name and share as little or as much about yourself as you want. Coming from a small town, everyone knew everything about everyone. You could go to the grocery store and see twenty people you knew without even making it past the produce section. Many a time, my friends and I have gone to breakfast after an exciting night out, patiently waiting to order a breakfast sandwich with our hair in messy buns and last nights mascara pretty much everywhere except our eye lashes, and seen a teacher or two in line. Unfortunately, this means there were also times when you’d see a cute guy when all you're trying to do is go into Walgreens and buy shampoo with a big t-shirt on paired nicely with socks and flip-flops.
People from small towns always band together on the big feels that such a small place can give you. They understand the feeling of town being essentially vacant on Friday nights because every single person, except for the Starbucks baristas making people half-time drinks, is in the stands or under the lights at the game. They can relate to the frustration of the one main road being shut down due to construction for what feels like years all to just cover a tiny little bump. They know what it feels like for an entire town to grieve over a tragedy and have first-hand experience of how quickly a small community can come together.
I’m sure anyone from a big city is clueless as to what all of these trivial, quirky things about a small town even mean right about now. Sure, there were plenty of days when my friends and I would wonder what it would be like to live in such a busy, booming city with tons to do. We wondered what it would look like to live in a city with skyscrapers that went on forever. We wondered what it would be like not to have that one breakfast place that literally every single person goes to on the weekends. Having lived through all the awkward interactions, the sadness of a local tragedy and the excitement of Friday night lights, I don’t think most small-town kids would trade it for the world. Somewhere in between braces, acne, that awkward phase, being able to drive, and graduation, we came to love the traditions that surrounded us as we grew up. For all the big city kids reading this, here are some of our valued activities:
- Getting El Diablo, similar to chipotle, before Saturday night football games
- Driving with friends, blaring music on back roads
- Back Roads in general
- Everyone getting coffee at that one Dunkin’ before schools starts
Things would’ve been very different for me had I not grown up in such a small town, but as my nine-year-old sister says, “shoulda, coulda, woulda." I am partly a product of where I am from, and honestly, I’m fine with that. Don’t get me wrong, I’m fine with leaving and experiencing something new because that truly is what college is all about (says any older and wiser person ever). But there is also excitement about all these people who have been spread out for months and months coming back together in a small place that connects them all. No one can ever really put their finger on it, but there is something unique and special about growing up in a small town.