“Get Out of There”

One of my very best friends is getting married in the fall of 2018. Yesterday she asked me to be a bridesmaid. Obviously I said yes.

Aubrey and I have known each other since we were 10. That’s sixteen years of history, friendship, arguments, changes, and celebrations. Another best friend, Kayla, is also a bridesmaid. Similar to Aubrey and I, she grew up locally and we’ve had some sort of acquaintanceship or friendship since middle school.

Both Kayla and Aubrey have moved away, found good jobs, and settled in. I, on the other hand, stayed in the same small town we all once called “home.” Per Google Maps, I live 3.8 miles from my childhood home, half a mile from my elementary school, half a mile (the other direction) from my high school, and roughly 0.5 to 5 miles from all my local relatives. Needless to say, it’s a smallish town.

It’s also one of those towns that high school seniors and young adults are always trying to “get away” from. If you don’t move away and travel the world or get a studio apartment in a real city then you might as well get married, pop out a few babies, and settle.

(That’s not my opinion. That’s the general vibe around here.)

Recently I saw a conversation on Facebook between two high school acquaintance…
Person 1: We’re moving! We’ll be living in XYZ, Ohio after this weekend.
Person 2 (who now lives in a major city): Good for you! Get out of there!

I know it should’ve have, but her comment made my blood boil. It made me feel like staying here is wrong.

Like it’s a trap. Or a prison. Or some sh!thole.

I like to think that I’m not easily swayed or influenced by others, but I KNOW there is a small town mentality of ‘staying here = failure.’

But honestly- what a load of bullshit.

If marriage and babies in a safe, small town is your prerogative then you’re in the right place. If building an international company is on your to-do list then you’ve found the perfect location. If you’re a world traveler who needs some roots in a busy yet slow community then plant them right here.

And if you feel like you need more miles to stretch your wings or some distance between your past and your present or you just want to try out a new place, then I think that’s great! But don’t you dare look down your nose at someone else for sticking around the place they call “home.”

For a while I really believed K and I would leave. (I suppose there’s still time but 1. the business is located here and 2. I’m happy here.) I’m a huge fan of travel and receiving a worldly education- but I need a stable home to return to. I think it’s 100% ok to dig your roots into a place like this.

For the record, neither of my best friends nor my brother have ever made me feel badly for any of my choices. I think they’re just happy to have a place to hangout when they come “home.”

I know that was a little rant-y, but that Facebook transaction sparked something inside me. I respect your decision to leave so I expect the same when it comes to staying.

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42 thoughts on ““Get Out of There”

    1. There’s someone out there who has something negative to say about any specific place… so no one will ever live in a collectively perfect place. Plus, I don’t live my life to make high school acquaintances happy. Ha.

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  1. You just wrote EVERYTHING I’M THINKING right now. I live in the same town I grew up in (just outside Philly), only minutes away from the high school Devin & I went to (where we met). And ALL MY 20-SOMETHING-YR-OLD FRIENDS who live here are talking about moving, as if people aren’t a good enough reason to love a place. To me, since all my fam & all my new and old friends are here, why would I move away? I swear it’s a 20s/30s thing, that they feel like they have to keep moving around to feel like they’re “seeing the world.”

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    1. Yep. I have no problem with people who move or people who travel or people who have kids (or people who travel and move and have kids and then sometimes move back). But I have a problem when folks think they’re *better* because they made some sort of adventurous location decision. Nope!

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  2. Yay for old friends, I’m so glad you’re going to be a bridesmaid! That conversation would totally make my blood boil. As much as I love living different places, I have a small obsession with small towns and kind of wish I was that person who lived in the same place their whole life and knew everyone. It just seems like a nice life. Plus I miss my friends and family like crazy. People should just do what works for them and not think that one way of living is better.

    I get ranty when people say things about the military. Especially when they make comments about joining the military being a last resort, or about being able to do better things besides the military. It’s not for everyone but that doesn’t mean it’s my husband’s last resort. He’s a nuclear officer!

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    1. I agree: “People should just do what works for them and not think that one way of living is better.”
      I’ve lived in the same town my whole life (minus college) and I’ve also seen the other side of the world. I actually feel quite well-rounded, thank you very much. Ha!
      I actually get a teeny tiny bit jealous of military families and wives! If someone/something forced us to move around I’m sure I’d grumble quite a bit, but I also think it’d force me to be adventurous and brave! You and Nick lead a lovely life doing what you’re doing! (And my mom traveled all over thanks to her dad/the Air Force!)

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  3. I love this, it’s so great to have good friends for such a long time. I can’t say I have too many any more, but that’s how it goes sometimes! I can totally relate to both sides of this. I 100% agree that there’s no reason to be judgy (especially outwardly HOLY COW!) to someone who lives a life that you don’t want! I feel like it can be hard for people (to be civil? to understand others? to know what they want?), because sometimes “home” is not home for them, even if it is for someone else. Or it holds weird teenage memories, or whatever. I personally do not enjoy going back to my “home town” and I definitely wouldn’t want to live there again… but I don’t fault people who choose to! I can’t say that I *understand* that choice (since I don’t want it, hehe). I often wonder how their experience was different than mine to make them choose that life. But that doesn’t mean it’s wrong. Not for them anyhow. 🙂 I still have the, “will we stay or go?” dilemma related to where we live now (our college town). Its’ a struggle. Anyhow, I feel ya! How rude of someone to assume that they feel the same way. Bleh. People kind of suck sometimes. XO – Alexandra

    Simply Alexandra: My Favorite Things

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    1. I’m not close with ANY of my best friends from high school. Aubrey and Kayla were my friends in middle/high school but we didn’t become best friends until college 🙂 I’m so happy all that worked out how it did, though. I am in a WAY different place than the people I spent 24/7 with in hs. Whew…
      Oof. I 100% know what you’re saying about high school/youth memories being tied to certain places in town. There are certain roads I avoid, stores I dislike, and benches in the park I refuse to sit on. (Similar to certain songs and bands I avoid, ha.) At the same time, there are hundreds of places around town that I truly love and have wonderful memories tied to that I hope I can share with our future kids someday!

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  4. As someone who married someone from her hometown and will more than likely end up back there in a few years, I get this a lot. And I think it’s totally rude to assume that because someone never moved away from their town that they’re “stuck”. Maybe some are but most are just making a choice, exactly like the people who leave make a choice. You said this so well!

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    1. Thanks, Erin. When K first started his company I joked that we were “stuck here”, but I really enjoy being here. And if we had moved away, we’d probably have moved back here once we had kids and such. Literally ALL our family is here.

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  5. Some people need to spread their wings… others (like me) loves the nest that is created & wants nothing more. The world is big enough for everyone… no judgement either way. People LOVE To judge, dont they?
    I love you have life long friendships. That’s so special.

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    1. Yes, I agree. I’m ok with those who leave and those who stay… Just spread a little grace wherever you go 😉
      I feel like our friendships have aged and matured and gotten stronger over time- just like wine! Ha!

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  6. YES. I think of this all the time, even though I don’t live in my hometown (though not by choice-thanks, match day). There is truly something to be said for a place where you have roots, the place that made you who you are.

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    1. I like that idea that “home” can changed and roots can be replanted, but I feel lucky in that I enjoy the place I grew up and had the opportunity to stay. If something happened and we had to move I would most certainly adjust, but for now this is our life and I really like it.

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    1. I agree. I went to college for 3.5 years and spent a month in India, but other than that I’ve been here mostly. And I still know that I’ve grown, matured, shifted opinions spiritually and politically, and will probably continue to do so as long as I continue to educate myself and participate in the world around me!

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  7. your last line says it all.

    people are always shocked when i tell them i’m from sydney and i live in louisville. to most people in louisville it’s a pretty big city, to me it might as well be a small one stop sign town in the middle of nowhere. it’s tiny. but who cares? life is life anywhere and we are happy here. why does it matter to anyone where someone lives (or makes any life choices, seriously people).

    it’s funny because of all the people i know from primary and high school, it’s looked down upon if you stay in sydney and never do anything or go anywhere. one of the biggest cities in the world! lol. so you can’t win.

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    1. The Sydney culture and expectation is super interesting! To me, Louisville AND Sydney are pretty big, ha. But that said, I am the kind of person that wants a country house on +50 acres surrounded by no one 😉 I want to travel throughout the year, but I want to come home to solitude and smallness and a quiet life.

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  8. My hometown sounds exactly like yours … except in Minnesota. 😀 There was definitely a “get out of there” vibe growing up, which I think is true with almost every small town because kids always assume the big city is where it’s at. The reality is it depends on the person. For me, I knew that I would “get out” because there weren’t jobs in my major (television production) and I wanted to live somewhere where I wasn’t like 1 of 10 minorities (my hometown is conservative and voted for Emperor Baby Fists). But I love going home and fully believe where you choose to grow roots, whether big city or small, makes no difference. It’s that you grow roots.

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    1. I think it’s awesome that you set your sights on somewhere else and then made it happen. On the flip side of my argument, I am from a conservative, non-diverse Midwest town. The attitude and prejudice and single-mindedness here is very real. I am grateful for the ability and means to travel, see the world, obtain an education, and NOT fall into that trap of dangerous thinking. (And I hope our future kids will not have that narrow mindedness either!)

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  9. I guess I’m one of those people who “got out of there” but there was never that vibe in my hometown. In fact, I think most of my school friends (that I am no longer friends with) stayed happily at home, settled and very few of them actually moved away. I was one of the few that went to university in another city instead of the local one and that almost made me look more like the one who failed because I couldn’t do it at home.

    It’s a weird thing.

    I’m not really one to settle so I like moving about. But I wonder how close to home we’ll settle in the end though, that wil be interesting to find out.

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    1. Huh. That’s really interesting! It’s so odd and disheartening how we assign things like “succeed” or “fail” to healthy and logical life decisions. Obviously either decision is good or bad- there’s no “fail” just because it’s different or common.

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  10. as someone who has recently ‘come back home’ i will say that once you are away – it gives you a whole new appreciation of where you come from (thought it sounds like you already totally appreciate your town!) also, as someone who has now opened business in not one, not two, but THREE states – it’s a pain in the ass. haha

    i am so very happy to be back home – nothing is more important than family and i’m so glad you have most of yours nearby!

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    1. I believe that. College made me both miss my hometown and long for the freedom of some miles in between.
      I think K’s business is mostly what kept us here, but the family ties are a very nice bonus. I know it’ll be beneficial when we have kids.

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  11. I used to want to get really far away. That was my entire goal during high school, was to get to college as far away as possible. Which is a weird thing to say about Chicago, but I wanted out. Instead I ended up in Iowa, but I didn’t know anyone so it worked in my mind. But then I ended up in a house exactly 2.7 miles from the house I lived in my whole life, where my parents still are, and I couldn’t imagine being anywhere else! I think I just needed to realize that I could ditch the toxic parts (people) of my life with or without having to start over in a new city.

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    1. That’s a really, really great and healthy lesson to learn! In this small town I tend to run into toxic parts of my past, but learning to navigate those experiences and not let them bother me is good for me. It’s a reminder that it’s ok to change and be a different person- I don’t need the approval of people from my past and I certainly don’t need their permission or attention to better myself or change.

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  12. 100% agree that staying “home” isn’t failing. I’ve never left but consider myself to be successful, and so are you and K! You guys are awesome and have a BUSINESS! I love being home because my family is here.

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  13. I’ll admit that until a few years ago, that was my mentality. Now, I do crave my hometown and the small town vibe. I’m not sure if it was because in my mind the ones who stayed were also the ones that might have also not gone to college and for a long time that was my mentality. Failure=not going to college, which is obviously silly! There are lots of successful people who haven’t gone to college. I would definitely say you’ve succeeded, you have a home, dogs and a husband. That’s literally the picture perfect life!

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    1. Hahaha- we don’t have the perfect life but we’ve got a lot of elements that make this life perfect for us 🙂 I went to college an hour away and K didn’t go to college, but I’d say we’re doing ok 🙂 It’s odd how our mind starts to associate certain moves and decisions as failure or success! And how those opinions change, too!

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  14. I totally get how you feel. While I don’t live anywhere close to my “hometown,” I don’t look down at people who never move away. Honestly, if it wasn’t for my dad’s just…we probably would still be living there now. He had one of those jobs that moved us every 5 years or so and I absolutely hated that when I was younger. Always having to make new friends, plant new roots. I never imagined myself landing in a small town in Alabama and yet, here I am. I have lived here for 7 years and just now am I starting to get recognized while out at the grocery store or restaurant. Yet, Chris runs in to people he knows pretty much every time because he went to high school in this area. I sort of miss knowing people, you know? I say to each their own. I get the feeling of wanting to spread your wings, but what I learn is that it is more about your personal inner growth than where you are on a map…you know?

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    1. Whew… you definitely get recognized and see people you know EVERYWHERE when you live in your hometown. My mom is the daughter of an air force colonel and she traveled all over the world… then met my dad and ended up in his hometown- which became my hometown. Lol

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  15. We’ve lived in a couple of small towns that made me just as happy as the bigger cities. I appreciate the stability and comfort of them. I don’t think that someone needs to visit Europe every month in order to have a fulfilling life.

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  16. Yay for being a bridesmaid!

    I’m so sorry to hear about this FB exchange though. I don’t live in a real small town; I’m very close to a major city, but I still don’t see myself leaving. This is home to me, and this is where my family is. Sure, I like to travel and visit other places but it’s quite okay to stay where you’re from.

    -Lauren
    http://www.shootingstarsmag.blogspot.com

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    1. I had nothing to do with the FB exchange, but when I saw the comment it made me frustrated. Home is where we make it- not where others tell us is “worthy.” 🙂

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  17. I am happy to read your rant. I think it’s an excellent perspective. I am just a firm believer that what an individual (or a couple) decides for their own happiness, health, security, livelihood, and priorities is their own decision to make. Not mine. And, I shouldn’t sit in judgement of that decision. Not ever.
    I have a blog post in draft that is a little bit about my brother’s life vs. mine and his wise words he shared with me when I moved from Texas to Australia. This post has encouraged me to go finish that post.

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    1. I agree with your entire first paragraph. I am SO happy for my friends that stick around and get jobs and follow their dreams. I’m also ecstatic for my friends that move away and find apartments or new circles of friends or put down some roots in a new community. The world needs both (all) kinds of people.
      I’m glad you shared that post today!

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  18. Each to their own is what I say. If you’re happy living where you are and you have a good, successful life there then why not stay? And you have a BUSINESS! You’re hardly a failure. What makes me sad is that a lot of people from my home town really have NEVER left. I can totally see the appeal in living where you’re from, being close to family, keeping the same friends, etc. but I recently saw one of those Facebook posts where you’re supposed to share 4 things for different categories. One girl I went to school with answered the first two questions like this: “4 places you’ve lived. 1. Home town, 2 -, 3. -, 4. -” Okay, fair enough. But then question 2: “4 places you have been to. 1. Newcastle (roughly 20 minutes away and I’m not even sure that counts!), 2. Edinburgh (around 3 hours away) 3. -, 4. -“. She has never travelled outside the UK or even made it to London. Our home town is literally her entire world. And sadly THAT is the mentality of a lot of people I went to school with, which is also exactly the reason I could never have stayed there after high school. I have nothing in common with most people I knew in school because they all think it’s weird that I not only couldn’t wait to leave but also actually ended up in a different country. With a foreign boyfriend. Also, my home town is just not a nice place. It’s a former mining town, has no history, is not pretty, the high school I went to failed its last inspection… I’m all for small towns, but my home town is just not a good place to live!

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    1. I know that money and flexibility can play a large role in one’s ability to travel, but I agree with you in that getting OUT of your home(town) and seeing parts of the world is so, so, so important. My family is split- some folks love to travel and some hate it, but they’ve all at least been out of the state a few times in their lives.
      I think it is AWESOME when someone has the opportunity (and desire) to leave their hometown/home. I’ve told K that if we hadn’t ended up together or if he hadn’t started his company, I’d probably be living in a different city. (Honestly, I’d probably move to where my best friend and my brother/his wife live.) But I really do love where I’m at and, as long as I can travel and visit those living far away, I’m quite happy with life.

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    1. Sometimes the internet sucks, but sometimes we stumble upon the exact right thing at the exact right time 🙂 Glad I could help. You’re welcome!

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