This particular rule was inspired by the following: a) a friend of mine who wrote a high school graduation speech that was poetic, mature, and head-on collided with my feelings towards home (thank you, Amy) and b) my feelings of discomfort, displeasure, and dissatisfaction with good ol’ Sussex County, NJ.
Without a smidgen of doubt, we can all find various aspects of our homes that would send us to pack our rucksacks and march (re: sprint as fast as you can) out the door. When I packed up for college two years ago, I said goodbye to all of my stuffed animals (individually), hugged my real dog, waved goodbye to my house, and “SAYONARA, home!” I was so thrilled to be leaving my half-square-mile hick town that it totally went over my head that I’d have to come back for Christmas.
So why did I start looking up colleges when I was in fourth grade and why did I choose to make my social life (social life=sleepovers with the entire three friends I decided to have) so limited? The simple answer is that I was unhappy: I was a city-dweller growing up in the middle of nowhere, went to a school where 60% of graduates stayed in the county after high school, and I found a lot of my classmates uncultured, ignorant, and totally sheltered. I don’t mean to sound like a snob, I really really don’t, but I genuinely felt like people were content forming important opinions based on their non-diversified, limited experiences here in Northwest, NJ. And to an extent, I was totally spot on.
And so the story goes that I found myself in college, found my friends (the best friends anyone could ask for, really), and found a place where I was so totally, unconditionally happy. But for once, that’s so not the point. The point is that I ended up back at home the past two summers for various reasons, and this is what I’ve come to terms with:
-there are people willing to work and better not only themselves, but their community wherever you go. Part of my internship involved interacting with people of all walks of life who were struggling to support themselves and their families financially. Regardless of what is undoubtably a stifling weight of worry on their shoulders they would attend classes every. single. day. in hopes of finding a job, any job. It was so inspiring. Were these people necessarily the most cultured, knowledgeable, or sweet? No. But so incredibly inspiring. Take the time to notice and appreciate and help people who are working hard to better themselves and others.
-without rural life, city life could not survive. I love the city. I love feeling that I’m part of a big, fast-paced world. I used to get stuck behind tractors and cow herds on my way to high school (I’m not kidding). Driving 5 MPH looking at a cow’s butt was not exactly a component of the glamorous life I imagined for myself. And yet, without these farmers on tractors and cows in the middle of the road, humans would be living on solely manufactured astronaut food. Ick! Rural life is so incredibly important. Doesn’t mean I’m trying to go milk a cow anytime soon, but I do think it is worthwhile for anyone to spend a little time in the “middle of nowhere.”
-everyone probably feels the same way you do. I was at the “local” mall a few weeks ago (“local”=forty minutes away) and ran into two girls that usually cause me to dive behind anything in sight to avoid…..clothing racks, tables, bookshelves, dogs, humans, anything! And yet, I was rounding the corner by American Eagle and I was spotted. And as the beyond awkward small talk ensued, we talked about how great our respective colleges are and how happy we were to leave our county. Apparently, they had felt the same way I did all along, even though I put them in the box labeled “to avoid: Sussex County lovers.” If I had spent a little less time running in high school, maybe I would’ve realized that even though maybe no one was totally like me, they were more like me than I thought and they were smarter too. Instead of rebelling against where they lived, they embraced it for the time, and then ran. So remember that nothing lasts forever and embrace where you are in the present. It will pay off. Don’t run too soon.
The short-winded moral to this long-winded story is that you need to go back once you’ve left. Go back to where you used to make a life for yourself to assess how much you’ve grown. I have grown. I see things I didn’t before and realize I wasn’t nearly as mature as I once thought I was. So go back. Talk to people, look around, learn something. But most importantly, look to yourself and see how much going away changed the very place that you thought never could change.
“It’s a funny thing comin’ home. Looks the same, smells the same, feels the same. You’ll realized what’s changed is you.” (Benjamin Button)