Growing up in a Small Town Made Me Who I Am
Sometimes I think about how different my life would've been if I didn't grow up in such a small conservative town.
Maybe I actually would've been able to date people other than boys with superiority complexes who thought I was quirky, but not in the cute Zooey Deschanel way. They fed off of my individuality, hoping it would rub off on them and make them look cool, like some indiePerks of Being a Wallflower crap.
Maybe I would've had more friends in high school. Instead, the same girls who called me "weird" now comment things like "queen" and "you're so inspirational!!!!" on my Instagram posts. Maybe if everyone would've realized there's diversity and life and human beings outside of our tiny city, and more important things than how many people write in our yearbooks, things would've been different. But that's not how things were.
I fled my town as soon as I graduated high school. I moved to the biggest city in my state, three hours away. It was far enough away from home to make me feel like I wouldn't run into anyone I knew. Yet, it was close enough that I could come back for holidays or on the weekends if I wanted to. I went from a population of just under 8,000 people to over half a million.
I met all kinds of incredible people and experienced things that I had never been exposed to growing up. I wasn't looked at weirdly for how I dressed; I blended in with all of the other people on the bus at my school, and basically everyone living their lives in the same vicinity as me. I also started traveling for my art, to Los Angeles and NYC. I loved every second of it, but my mind felt foggy all the time. I never really felt like I could relax, even when I was just lying in bed.
Gradually, it made me realize that I took my hometown for granted. I missed the quiet streets and how I could be content just driving around aimlessly with my friends for hours. I missed the blank canvas of creativity I felt when I wasn't distracted by everything else around me. I missed being so bored out of my mind that I had to figure out something new and exciting to do.
Looking back, if I were given the opportunity, I honestly wouldn't have wanted to grow up anywhere else. And I wouldn't have changed any of the choices that I've made. They have all taught me things and shaped me into who I am today. Even though I loved living in those big cities and still miss them for certain reasons when I'm away, I now have a new perspective and respect for my hometown.
I'm not just cool because of the big city where I grew up with a million interesting people rubbing off on me. I'm cool because I'm cool. I thrive off of being from a microscopic town in the Midwest. I spent so long trying to get away, and now I'm trying to go back every chance I get. I am so beyond thankful for how this place has turned me into who I am today.
By Ela Hosp, 20