I grew up in Fairmont, Minnesota a small town 10 miles away from the Iowa border with a population of 10,000 people. Now this may seem like a large number, but really you could bike across the town in 15 minutes. Growing up in a small town provided me with many pros and cons.
A beautiful part about growing up in a small town is the fact that I could go outside and play whenever I wanted. I could walk to a friend’s house at anytime of the day and for the most part not worry about my surroundings. My siblings and I could go play at a park just the three of us. I could go for a run at night without too much worry. A good side of being in a small town is that you really never had to worry about bad things happening, once in awhile they do, but rarely.
Knowing Your Classmates
Growing up in a small town I knew all 130 of the people in my grade. Granted there were probably one or two that I didn’t, but for the most part I did. Why is this a pro? You get to know different types of people and you don’t have to worry about going to a class and being alone during a group project, or not knowing anyone when you walk down the hall. It also is a cool feeling when you walk across the graduation stage to know that everyone knows of you.
Another great part about growing up where I did is the fact that I always had family around me. Most of my Dad’s family lives in the same small town so it is nice to have people who love you all around. Plus they can help with renovating, giving rides, holidays, etc.
If someone from your small town is doing great things, you pretty much have the whole town backing you. When someone becomes successful that grew up around our small town it’s a big deal and nearly everyone is a proud supporter. You also get the opportunity to support local business and companies when you live in a small town. People you know start up their own business you get the opportunity to be their customer which is really a cool thing.
Everybody Knows Everybody
There is an element of fun when you go to the grocery store and see people you know. This happens not only at the grocery store, but nearly every where you go. No matter where we would go out to eat people would stop my parents and talk to them for a good twenty minutes. Also when you come back to your old town you run into friends you haven’t seen in forever without ever planning it!
Everybody Knows Everybody
When you live in a small town and everybody knows one another, they also know one another’s business. In a small town things barely anything stays private. If something happens that you aren’t so proud of you better get used to hearing people whisper as you walk by. You better get used to people having preconceived notions about you without really knowing you. You also better get used to hearing gossip that you may or may not want to know, and let me tell you it travels fast.
Lack of Diversity
In my high school graduating class we had one Asian American, one African American, and four Latino Americans, in a class of 130 people. In a majority of small towns that is how it is whether it be Caucasians, African Americans, Native Americans, Asian Americans, Latino Americans, etc. People in small towns don’t receive access to a lot of diversity and sadly there are times that this may result in ignorance. How can you know something if you’ve never been exposed to it? Living in a larger city for two years now I have learned things about different cultures, religions, ethnicities, food, etc. that I didn’t even know about in my eighteen years of living in a small town.
It’s Hard to Leave
When you grow up in a small town, it’s like you’re attached there. Granted I am attached there because that is where my parents live, and so I will constantly be there to see them, but it really is hard to leave. I have dreams of living in a big city, whether that be for life or just a little while, I do. I want to go to New York or California, somewhere different. What surprises me is the reaction I get whenever I talk about this. I have gotten several different reactions, but there is always a common theme. It seems that majority of people think I’m crazy for wanting to leave this area. People think it’s odd that I would want to go more than two hours away. Granted people are excited to see me try everyone seems to think I will be back before I have even left.
What Should We Do?
Boredom is a common tread among us small town people. There is very little entertainment offered. You could go see a movie at the movie theatre, you can go out to eat, if there is a show at our Opera House you could see it, sometimes the schools or hotels host events, but really that’s it. When you get together with friends the common question of what is there to do always comes up. That is one reason I love the city so much is because there is always something going on, never a dull moment. However, I can see why some people enjoy the quiet of the small town as well.
Overall my experiences with my small town have neither made my hate it nor love it. I keep going back because the people I love and my memories are there. That has been my experience with a small town thus far, what is yours like?