Growing up, I always said that I didn’t want to move back to my hometown after college. I thought that I would be forever trapped in the boring, little bubble known as Columbus, Indiana. I don’t think it’s uncommon for many young adults to subscribe to the idea that the grass is always greener on the other side. It’s easy to look at your peers’ social media pages and longingly gaze at their wide selection of restaurants and exciting activities to do on a Friday night, especially when you grew up in a Midwestern city where there is almost always a cornfield in sight. To be fair to my city, Columbus has come a long way since I was in high school, and I am still finding both new and old little treasures within it to explore.
Beyond feeling as if there was something more to life, I thought that people would believe that I had settled and given up on becoming something great. Unfortunately, I don’t think that I am the only person who has experienced this mindset. Social media makes it difficult for young adults to feel content with the direction of their life. Success today appears to be based on quantitative growth and visual change: more followers, more travel experience, and more excitement. Culture’s priorities are simply different than they were for previous generations. I use the word “different” carefully here, because I don’t mean that they are inherently bad. If when you graduate, your goals are to grow your business in a new city and completely transform you life, you should definitely pursue your dreams. In that case your personal priorities and the culture’s priorities are in alignment.
But what about the person who just wants start a family and give back to the community they have always loved? They shouldn’t feel like their dream is invalid; it’s just different, and that’s beautiful. As long as you are happy, you are not settling. You are thriving.
To address the point of giving up on becoming something great, I think that it is 100% possible to fulfill your potential in your hometown. There are people that need loved, people that need inspired, businesses that need created, and businesses that need helped everywhere. Thus far, I have painted social media in somewhat of a negative light, but it is not inherently bad either. The online world connects us in many ways that humans never even thought would be possible. You can make a post, go live, or launch a business plan and immediately reach people on the opposite side of the globe. Just because you are physically in one place does not mean your influence and positive light is not able to spread. Further, you don’t even need to “become something great”, because being authentic and happy is something great in and of itself.
Personally, I don’t regret moving back to my hometown one bit. My family and lifelong friends are nearby for support, yet I still am forming new connections. It is possible to have a fresh start in a familiar environment when you decide to discover life with a different perspective. Here are a few helpful tips for making your hometown your own.
- Don’t be afraid to make new friends. Just because you weren’t friends in high school or you are different in age does not mean you can’t be friends now.
- Explore places and events that you are unfamiliar with. Go to the restaurants and stores that your parents never wanted to go to, and take the time to explore new or updated areas. You just may find something that makes you fall in love with your hometown again.
- Say hello to everyone you know. Truthfully, I struggle with this myself even though I believe this tip is the most crucial. I wonder if people will recognize me or think I’m weird. However, you never know what kind of day that person was having or how your lives may intertwine in the future. Sometimes people come in and out of our lives in mysterious ways. That somewhat stranger now may be one of the most important people in your life in a few years time.
Be confident in your decision of where to live no matter what you anticipate people may perceive about you. Whether that be in your hometown or across the globe, find what makes your heart happy, and make it your home.