Growing up in a small town teaches life lessons

Growing up in a small town has its advantages but also comes with some disadvantages.

I grew up in a small town with a population of around 1,000 people. My graduating class included only 29 students. My town was surrounded by other small town with populations of no more than 5,000.

Growing up in a small town, not a lot of opportunities are offered for high school students to prepare them in the journey they want to take in college. For example, I am studying journalism and working for this college newspaper, which is the first real experience I have had in journalism. The small town I live in offers nothing journalism-related, except for UIL and yearbook. But yearbook was not offered for students interested in journalism. Instead, it was offered for cheerleaders and jocks. So it was pointless to even try to get in that class, because you would not be accepted otherwise. There was not any clubs or organizations to be involved in.

Also, the small town I am from is strictly conservative Republicans. Everyone is afraid to be themselves. Most people go to college and study pre-med or something in the medical field, because it is drilled into our heads that you will not find success being creative. In fact, our school has a multi-million dollar gym and ballpark but is considering dropping the band and art program to save money. They have already dropped One Act Play, which closes off opportunities for students who are interested in theater. There are no outlets or opportunities for students who are interested in creativity.

Also, everyone knows your business. Any move you made, the whole town would hear about it, especially if it is something negative about you. The students also love to gossip to teachers, so rumors spread fast, and your reputation could be ruined by some silly rumor in less than a day.

There are very few job opportunities in a small town. There is one grocery store, two restaurants, and one convenience store. They are never hiring students, because all of their open spots are filled with adults who have free time. So students do not get a lot of job experience before moving out into bigger towns.

There are a lot of positive aspects that come out of living in a small town also. I had two amazing teachers who I developed a close friendship with. One of them was my UIL coach and librarian. She encouraged me to study journalism and be creative. She taught me a lot about journalism and the opportunities it offers, even though the school did not offer anything journalism related. The other teacher who helped me throughout school was the assistant softball coach. I could go to her about anything that I felt discouraged about, and she would give me advice and help me back up. I feel that is the best part about growing up in a small town and attending a small high school. Your classes are so small that you are able to connect with each student. I could not have survived high school without these teachers there to encourage me to not give up.

Another good thing about growing up in a small town is being able to be involved in all extracurricular activities. I got to be involved in band, FFA, athletics, and UIL, without having to tryout for any of these.

I was in band for the first two years of high school. I played softball for all four years of high school, which taught me a lot about mental toughness and teamwork. I was in FFA for the first three years of high school, and as much as I hated it, it helped me realize that agriculture is definitely not what I wanted to do with my life. I also participated in Editorial Writing in UIL, which made me realize that journalism is the path I wanted to take in college. I did not have to try out for any of these events because it was such a small school and a lot of open space for new people. This gives anyone a chance to discover what they enjoy and where they want to go in life.

Another plus side to growing up in a small town is being able to get where you are going within five minutes tops. Everything is not even a mile away. You can send your kids safely to the park or store because they are not going far, and everyone knows who you are. Growing up in a small town, you do not have to worry about “stranger danger,” because everyone knows whose kid is whose.

The one thing I am thankful for about my small town is the Farm Scholarship. Our school has a corn crop, and all of the money that the crop makes goes to a scholarship that every single graduating student receives, depending on everything you were involved in and the success in those activities. This scholarship has helped me immensely in paying for college.

Small towns do not offer much, but they are definitely a safe place for everyone. I am thankful I grew up in a small town because I learned a lot of life lessons from the negative and positive experiences.

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