When I enrolled in Spelman College in Atlanta for a pre-college summer program, I asked my roommate where she grew up. Her answer was Houston, Texas. I asked her what her parents did for a living and she said her dad was an astronaut. Imagine how I, a country girl from rural Alabama, felt. Since peanut and cotton farming were two of the biggest occupations in the region, I was shocked to room with a person whose dad was a Commander for NASA’s Hubble Space Mission.
Although the limitations of growing up in a small town (especially pre-Internet) are numerous, the benefits still abound. Nothing beats the quaint small-town life and the lasting memories that remind its residents of simpler times. Whether you grew up in a small town or are thinking of moving to one, you are in for a special treat. Join me on a nostalgic journey of small-town life as you read about these 7 things that only small-town people can relate to.
1. You graduate high school with the same people who were in your kindergarten class.
Many of the schools in a small town feed into a single high school. If a town is small enough, the same cohort of students might start and finish elementary, middle, and high school together. This gives kids the opportunity to create strong bonds with other kids during every stage of their childhood development. Be prepared, however, for messy breakups, ever-changing friendships, and rampant small-town rumors. After all, you have to infuse excitement into the small-town way of life somehow!
2. You join the high school marching band when you’re in the 7th grade.
Resources are common concerns in small towns. Although the marching band is one example, you will find that students in small towns have opportunities to engage in many activities earlier than kids in larger cities. Are you missing a bass drummer for the high school band? Do you need a fourth member for the track team’s relay team? Recruit from the middle school. Kids in small towns grow up fast — not in a negative way, but because bodies are needed to execute activities. By graduation, students can be politicians, musicians, athletes, or public speakers, and all of these experiences will prepare them for almost everything.
3. You lack accessibility to resources past 10 pm.
Small-town residents prepare themselves to do everything outside of their homes before 10 in the evening. Most local small-town businesses operate during 9-to-5 hours, so local residents have to know exactly what they need to accomplish during those hours. A bright aspect of this is that the one fast food restaurant and convenience store are always open for business to satisfy your late-night french fry and beef jerky cravings.
4. You can’t do anything wrong because people know your parents, grandparents, cousins, aunts and uncles — even your dog.
People in small towns learn to live squeaky clean lives because they know that any negative things they do will be the subject of conversation among all the local community groups. Engaging in bad behaviors extends beyond an alleged perpetrator, because the relatives of this person are affected immediately by the accusation. Small-town life teaches one how to be discreet, how to filter information, and how to develop a thick skin — since there is no way to escape the glaring eyes and opinions of members of the local community.
5. You can take care of your professional business at local sporting events.
Small-town life centers around sporting events. The heart of many communities involves supporting local talent as students offer the best, cheapest, and sometimes the only entertainment that a small town has to offer. At a game, you can see your banker, your beautician, and the high school principal. Where else could you learn about current loan interest rates, receive updates about your child’s academic progress, and cheer for your favorite sports team?
6. You don’t worry about rush-hour traffic.
Leave work at 5 pm and you will be at home at 5:10 pm. You have time to exercise, prep dinner, and read a book before the local news come on. If you think that this quick small-town commute sounds boring, think again! The time that you save not driving will add much to your overall quality of life and to your relationships with friends and family.
7. You don’t need the local newspaper to get the news.
Those of us who grew up in small towns know that before social media and the internet, small town criers provided people with current events and gossip before it became official. To this day, if someone in a small town dies overnight, the word is out via telephone or text before daybreak. Another small-town benefit is knowing the behind-the-scenes details about everything that is reported cryptically by the media. Anonymous small-town sources will always be the original TMZ.
In the end, although there are numerous benefits of big-city life and access to diverse resources, small-town life definitely has its perks.
Featured photo credit: Girl with Flowers/Alexander Shustov via images.unsplash.com