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autumn leaves on a dirt road
autumn leaves on a dirt road
Natalie Szewczyk
Life

Removing the Stigma: Moving Back to Your Hometown

The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.

I have always told myself I would never be the type of person to move back to their hometown.

I’ve always agreed with the stereotype that people who move back to their hometown are “disappointments,” “failures,” or “short-sighted people.” However, I’ve recently learned that this is anything but the truth.

At my high school at least, lots of alumni came to basketball and football games with near perfect attendance. Some of them even continued to sit in the student section and hang out with their underclassmen friends. Although this isn’t necessarily a bad thing, it always reminded me of the phrase “close the yearbook.”

I wondered how people could be so satisfied with never going anywhere else in their life––how they could be content staying in one place forever.

In our society, teenagers have been conditioned to go out on their own and live far away from home. Especially in the Midwest, sometimes people have the perception that nothing big or exceptional happens here. This is “fly-over country” after all. To find amazing things, you must go to the coasts and leave your small town and your family behind. However, I’ve found that the pace may be slower in small towns, but the limit for greatness is not.

When I first left for college, I was nervous to live in another state and be so far from my family. At the same time, I was amazed that out of the 35 people in my graduating class, I was the sole student to attend college out-of-state. I thought that because I went far (if you can call a 3.5 hour drive far), I would have bigger opportunities in my future. 

But the longer I’m gone and the more times I drive back home, the more I realize that I don’t want to distance myself from the place I grew up. The more I realize that greatness doesn’t depend on distance––it depends on persistence, hard work, and diligence––skills I can acquire wherever I go if I have the willingness to.

A recent study from Iowa State University shows that students from smaller communities and school districts are more likely to return to their hometowns as compared to students from larger cities or schools. In these smaller communities, there are fewer degree holders, and the ones who do come back generally hope to make a difference in their community. 

Although this may be a key factor, I think it even goes beyond that. The study also found that graduates are “more likely to return to their hometowns if they felt close to their teachers, peers and school community.”

I, for one, had an amazing high school experience filled with academics, athletics, and extracurriculars. Many of my favorite high school memories include my favorite coaches, teachers, and administrators. 

Aside from school, I think of my church community and my family that live in the area. Throughout my childhood, I loved living in close proximity to so many amazing, down-to-earth people who wanted to see their community succeed. I had many mentors who helped me grow as a person to help me become who I am today. Someday, I want to be able to emulate this experience for my own children so they can understand what it’s like to have an entire community in their corner.

At the end of the day, I don’t think moving back to your hometown is a cowardly move. Instead, I now think it’s a move that’s motivated by sentimental memories, family ties, and, most of all, love. I love my community, I love where I grew up, and I want my family to grow up the same way I did. 

All of our communities and schools may grow and change throughout the years, but I know that my community is rooted in love and support, and I want to continue to support these sentiments when I make my return. 

Brianna Strohbehn is a junior at Winona State University and a small-town girl from central Iowa. Brianna is studying English, double majoring in writing and applied and professional writing with hopes of someday becoming an editor at a publishing firm. When she isn't writing, Brianna enjoys thrifting, reading, exploring her new home in Winona, and spending time with family and friends.
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