Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Growing Up Big in a Small Town

In my younger days I spent most of my time in the back woods of Kings County.  I am a confessed "country boy" who has limited global traveling experience.  Recently I was walking down Main Street in Sussex and suddenly it seemed larger than normal.  I looked at some of the houses nearby and started reminiscing.

As I walked Main Street I noted the large older homes.  Some were well maintained and elegant while others were showing their age but if they could talk, they would all have a heck of a story to tell.  I was surprised at how many of those homes I had been in to at some point in my life.   There is the house where I picked up my date for junior prom.  That house there used to be a dentist office.  A friend of mine lived in an apartment in that house.  That was a heck of a party at the upstairs apartment in that house.
Small town Main Streets possess a character that can provide a wide array of experience to young people. (Dreamtime photo)
Admittedly I am a small town boy who has spent a limited number of nights in large cities.  I want to demonstrate though how a small town can provide global experiences, even if on a small scale.  Have you ever had a moment in your life when you were outside your comfort zone?  Maybe you thought "What am I doing here?"  Arguably that would happen more often in a big city where you have an opportunity to interact with a larger array of people.  It does happen in small towns, just less frequently and maybe with less people.

If I go back to the party at the upstairs apartment I can remember being with a group of people who were well out of my league normally.  No better or worse than me, just different.  They interacted with each other differently than I normally would and participated in things that I didn't.  In that moment, through that night, for some reason, I was comfortable hanging out with this crowd though.  Looking back on that night now, I see how my mind was expanded and how later it helped me adapt to a similar scene in a big city.

I can remember my first time visiting a friend at an apartment building.  I wasn't very old and I was nervous as I searched for the right apartment door to knock on.  While this is a small event, it prepared me later for seeking out business offices in bigger buildings and allowed me to do so with confidence.  I could stretch this one a bit further by saying that by finding my way through a forest to a specified camp site could prepare me similarly.

While small towns may not have the constant excitement and crowds of bigger metro areas, they still offer great opportunities for growth.  Arguably they provide a safer environment to learn about big city living while also presenting a chance to learn about things you can't learn in metro area.  You can't learn how to milk a cow while riding a bus or how to hunt for deer in a parking lot.

Growing up in a small town for me has been a blessing.  I have learned tolerance and acceptance of others and I have learned how to navigate various social situations.  I have learned outdoor skills and survival skills that serve me not simply in the backwoods but on a busy city street as well.  The buildings on a small town street have as long a history as the buildings on a big city street and when you open your ears and listen to what it's history is teaching, growing up in a small town can be a big experience.  Don't be scared to push your comfort levels especially in a small town.
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