I grew up and still live in a small town in upstate New York, about two hours from the city, called the Hudson Valley. There aren’t many buildings or impressive architecture, but the area has good restaurants, performing art centers, museums, and many small towns around to visit. To put it simply, we don’t have a lot, but both residents and visitors have plenty to enjoy. It’s a lovely place to live, and I will always call it home.
I have a friend who, every now and then, used to say, “The Hudson Valley is where dreams go to die.” Personally, I don’t believe it’s true. My dreams have thrived here — and I made that happen for myself. In 2008, I decided to start a local group to help my community. A year later, this idea came to fruition, and it went strong for a decade. While running that group, I realized I was passionate about writing, so I became a non-fiction writer, which I still am to this day. Here’s what I’m trying to get across: These two very different dreams were born in a small town, where they thrived and succeeded without the advantages of a big city.
I think my friend made these comments because she couldn’t envision her dreams coming true in a small town like ours. But the problem is that she didn’t even try. I think she lacked perspective, just like many people do these days. She didn’t want to live out her dreams in a small town because in her mind if that’s where they started, that’s where they’d have to stay. My friend feared she would feel stuck here.
A lot of people have my friend’s mindset. However, there’s nothing wrong with planting seeds in your small town, nourishing them, and watching them grow into something better.
No matter where you live, your dreams can take off. But you won’t know for sure if you don’t even try. Just envision all the possibilities and what you can achieve. Our society stereotypes small towns as places where nothing ever happens, as places where nothing can be created and nothing big happens. But the reality is that you can do everything in a small town. It might be more challenging, yes, but there’s a lot of potential in a small town. More importantly, you have to see that potential in yourself.
If you’re living in a small town, whether you believe it or not, your dreams began in the very place where you thought nothing could happen. And they can also thrive there. Dreams only die if you let them. And who knows where they can go if you allow them to grow? If more people realized this, they would look at their hometowns and the dreams that came from there differently. Do I see myself in this area forever? No. But this place is where my dreams have thrived and helped me change lives. My dreams never died because I didn’t let them. And for that, I am forever grateful to my small town.