To Hell With Hometowns: 4 Lessons You Learn When Leaving Home

You’ve heard it since you were old enough to hit on your babysitter, “Get out of this small town, its going nowhere!” Some days it seems that everyone wants you to run away from your hometown. However, those same people seem content to do the exact opposite of what they tell you. Hell, lots of people have never left their small town and have done just fine. So what’s the big deal, you might ask? Well first of all you little shit, don’t talk to me like that. Second of all, leaving the comfort of familiarity can teach you things you may never have learned otherwise.

The person that you’re hung up on isn’t worth it. 

One of the more self-explanatory characteristics of small towns is the lack of people. Because of this, prospects for a significant other are limited. I believe there are more scarecrows in my hometown than actual people. This means that it’s hard getting over someone you’ve got the feels for. The problem is that it’s easy for it to seem like that person is the only one for you, and that’s because in your tiny town, they might actually be.

Once you get out in the real world for a while, you realize pretty quickly that there’s an endless amount of other options. People always say, “there’s plenty of fish in the sea,” but if you stay in your hometown, it’s going to be more like a pond. A shitty, shitty little pond. In this big wide world, what are the chances that the person you’re meant to be with is in the same little corner as you? Get out there and find out.

There’s actually more to life than drinking and smoking.

I know this is hard to believe but it’s true, I swear. Take a minute, sit down, and try to make sense of this. We small towners have to drive for half an hour just to see a damn movie and winter ruins any chance of outdoor adventures. This brings us to everyone’s favorite party favor – liquor and drugs. Because there is literally nothing else to do, drinking and smoking the ganja (or whatever you kids are calling it these days), is our only option.

But wait, what if you did something crazy like move away for a while? Perhaps somewhere that has streetlights or at least less meth usage. You might see that drinking, which I wholeheartedly encourage, doesn’t have to be the only option if you want to have a fun weekend. Hey, if you want to black out on malt liquor and sing some karaoke, more power to you. But that shouldn’t be your only choice.

You become more proud of your town.

When we start thinking about where we’re from, there’s not a lot to be said for small hometowns. Personally, mine was a famous train stop on the railroad 70 years ago, which is about as interesting as it sounds. That’s it. That’s all we got.

I can imagine many of you have same stories. There are towns out there whose only claim to fame is being the birthplace of a serial killer, or worse, a semi-famous rapper. While we’d never admit it out loud, there’s not a whole lot to be proud of.

By now, I bet you know where I’m going with this, you clever dog. When you get out of town (pun intended), you start realizing that people are different. Even people from the same state can be noticeably different. For instance, did you know people from Memphis are immune to lime disease? I almost definitely made that fact up, but that’s beside the point.

You start to appreciate all of the little things about home. The people, the little restaurants, the politeness of the local pimps. Being away and experiencing new things can make you really see why each and every town, and the people in it, can be special. When you realize this, you actually become more proud of where you’re from, perhaps for the first time ever. It’s like that old cliché; absence makes the heart grow fonder. Same thing but with shitty buildings and boring people.

You get a better sense of where you belong

The truth of it is, a lot of people aren’t cut out for new places, and that’s okay. There are those who just prefer to live in the same town their whole life. We need those people. If everyone were a rolling stone, nothing would get done. There’d be nobody to plant roots and build spectacular places for us travelers to enjoy.

As soon as you see what’s out there, you might find that the best place for you is home. Seeing new things and meeting new people might not be your cup of tea (or whiskey if you aren’t a pansy). But if you never leave, you might miss your true calling. Leaving home, if only for a short time, is the only way to know for sure whether or not you really should stay home. It’s like a paradox, I think. Let’s be real, nobody is completely sure when to use that word.

So get out there and see what’s what. Fall in and out of love with a stranger and gamble your money away in a back alley dice game. You might see that you’re meant to travel the world or you might just want to go home. But you wont ever know where you belong until you try different things. Find your place in the world and make the best of it – even if it’s where you started.

Featured image via PHOTO VANOVA on Flickr


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