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.