Leaving a Small Hometown for Something Bigger

Feeling Stuck in Mucktown

Your last years spent in a small hometown can often feel like standing in murky stagnant water- you can't see where you're going, but if you stand there any longer you'll sink. I know the feeling...well. I was from a small (pop. 880) town and wanted to escape about five years before I actually did, but I am certainly glad I finally did- no regrets.

I did not aim big for getting out- no magnificent plans of being a Hollywood actress or traveling the world. Just needed to escape that town, create myself over again without the labels old friends stuck on me, and without the same roads I'd been down a million times before. I had to escape the town where all the people I knew from high school were marrying the kid they played with in 3rd grade, having babies, living in their parent's 4th generation house, and doing the same things they always did years before. I saw the cycle closing in on me, it was inevitable, and it felt like a doomsday approaching swift as a tsunami.

However, without those people, a small town would die. There are people meant for that life, appreciate it, find true happiness in those confines, and I respect that. I was shocked by how many people I knew from High School stayed behind. I thought everyone felt like I did- 'Get out while you can!!' I wonder though if some wanted to, but something held them back. Not me and perhaps if you're reading this, not you either.

My Get OUT story

I wanted more. In high school I began to feel, not better than, but that I had higher expectations of my life than the people in my hometown. College was one goal, babies was not. I was 22 and bartending in a city with a cool night life was another goal, serving the Friday night special in my hometown diner was not.

I had a boyfriend at the time and was bold enough to tell him I was moving whether he wanted to or not. I picked up and left and found a place I liked. My boyfriend joined me about 3 months later. He had motivation to move too- better pay and hours for a company he could transfer to...and me. He lasted one year and ended up moving back- getting out wasn't for him.

I did everything I wanted to. I only had that cool bartending job for 5 months, but it was a dream accomplished. It was cool, but I wanted to live the night life, not work it. I wanted to dance the nights away and let's face it, nothing colder and more awkward than dancing with a booze bottle behind a counter- good for tips, bad for range of fun. I completed college as well, and can say I have lived a good enough life here that I don't miss anything about my old life in my small hometown. I have to admit, getting away makes you almost a celebrity. Everybody wants to know what it's like to live somewhere else and there's a few ooh's and ahh's about it.

Goals for Getting OUT

I mentioned above about the girl who wants to get out and go to Hollywood to make it big or the guy who packs up and travels the world- there are those people and while that wasn't my case, they have something in common that can help the common person get out of dodge...Goals.

If you want to get out of your small hometown, you must have a goal- something must drive you. While it may not be as big as Hollywood, it is usually bigger than your existence in a small hometown. It is bigger than what you're doing with your life now. It is something worth reaching for and aspiring to. It is something that has to propel you strong enough that when you want to give up or it seems much easier to stay where you're at, every fiber of your being won't let you.

Goals can vary. Perhaps you want to get married and you want a bigger sea to fish in, than your prospects in a small town. Maybe college is your path to freedom. Even the military can take you places. If money is your driving force, then look to a bigger city for more potential. You have options, but don't make someone else's goal your own. You truly need to come up with something that inspires you and like I've mentioned above, it doesn't have to be spectacular.

Time is Ticking

Most who want to escape the grasp of their hometown holding them back, want to get out as soon as possible. This is a great idea, however, consider it carefully because those who leave too early have a higher chance of returning. You have to be mature enough and ready to accomplish your goal(s). It's also helpful to know what it's like to live alone if you are planning to make the move by yourself. Don't set yourself up for being homesick if this is your first time away from home and on your own.
Timing it right tips:

  • Have a goal beyond just wanting to leave.
  • Try it out. If you have friends or family that live in an area that interests you, go visit them. This is ideal.
  • Decide how far is too far and how far is not far enough.
  • If you are feeling stuck in a rut, it's time to go....fast. What are you still doing there!!??
  • Go where you like the people and the vibe of the city. Every city has a vibe and people are different from town to town. This is important because this is who you will be and how you live.
  • It's helpful if your destination fits your goals. Be sure to work that out before you go.


From Nowhere to Somewhere...and Getting There

Do you pack up and leave? Certainly it's not that easy. Well, it was for me. Yes, I tried out a couple of states, staying with family to see if I liked the area, but those weren't a fit for me at all so I winged it. I picked the first place on the road that struck my fancy. But how do you do it?

For me, just doing it was the trick. A new place was just the type of make-over I needed. The simple act of going for your goal is a self-esteem booster, and then when/if you complete it, it can transform you as a person. Sometimes you can't see the steps in front of you when you've taken all those steps before- meaning, when you live a small town and know everything and everybody, there are no new steps. You stay where you're at or move backwards, but moving onto something bigger than that small town, gives you all new steps to take- new possibilities and you're certain to see things you've never seen before, including things about yourself.

Train, plane, bus, automobile? Depends on your finances. Getting money saved up is essential. This includes money for transportation, unforeseen expenses, and a more costly way of life if you are moving to a bigger city. The more money you have saved, the less other type of planning necessary- it gives you some freedom.

new surroundings, new feelings
new surroundings, new feelings

What to expect

  • expect the unknown, tinged with fear and a hint of excitement
  • perhaps leaving on unfinished or bad terms with some family or friends
  • leaving is the hardest part- actually getting out the door
  • tough goodbyes
  • feeling alone when you finally move or feeling small in a bigger city
  • missing your hometown (rarely hopefully)
  • getting lost in a new place...a lot
  • things not going according to plan- revise your plans and be flexible
  • a feeling of living in your own personal adventure



Plan B: Don't Go Back

After you've left and been away for a while, then you come back to visit, it puts things into perspective. You really get chance for reflection- how far you've come and how far you've been. You wonder how different your life would have been, perhaps you're more thankful for getting out.

When I visit my hometown, I can't believe who I was and who I am now- Who I was, was someone that everybody else knew and who I am now is someone that I know...me. I have a different perspective because there was a transition period when I first moved away...getting to know myself. The people I know that never left seem to be stuck in time- they are just the way I remember them. The Antique stores in that town are selling the same old stuff. Time seems to stand still in small towns.

There are some people who leave and come back, and believe it was the best decision. Getting away can have that effect as well. People see what they were missing and relive good memories they cherished. They move back and are happy. But most feel perfectly wonderful about getting away and the thought of going back is like moving backwards having come from a forward world.

Plan B: if you have to go back, just visit. Going back to visit can sometimes give you extra motivation for staying on track in your new city. Don't give up wherever you moved to, make it work if that's what you want. Moving back out of desperation can wreak havoc on your self esteem and you may never get out again.

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Comments 51 comments

Johnathan L Groom profile image

Johnathan L Groom 5 years ago from Bristol, CT

hi izettl lol!!! another well-done here as well (I think I may be your biggest fan :) you really put a lot into your writing and it shows! I especially like the first-person bit and the follow-up of how, although it isn't you... this is the point. Very good.

-johnathan-


izettl profile image

izettl 5 years ago from The Great Northwest Author

Thanks- I was just reflecting on how I got here and when I used to take a lot more chances. It was truly fun taking a leap of faith and moving to a new place- only a state away though- lol, but nevertheless it was an adventure. Getting out was the best thing I ever did and I'm almost ready for it again.


Johnathan L Groom profile image

Johnathan L Groom 5 years ago from Bristol, CT

Well, I live in Connecticut and u are more than welcome to move here anytime. I am sure no matter what u do you will be fine!

-johnathan-


izettl profile image

izettl 5 years ago from The Great Northwest Author

I was thinking hotter, maybe south a bit more. I honestly don't know much about Conneticut.


Johnathan L Groom profile image

Johnathan L Groom 5 years ago from Bristol, CT

I've travelled the enitre eastern seaboard and the South. Where were u thinking izettl, because u DO NOT want to go to Texas lol :)

-johnathan


izettl profile image

izettl 5 years ago from The Great Northwest Author

Arizona...perhaps. i have family in Boston and will get out there someday...soon.


Johnathan L Groom profile image

Johnathan L Groom 5 years ago from Bristol, CT

Arizona... hmmmm. If you have digital cable, IFC has a 'Ludo Bites America' episode on Santa Fe, and I hear the food is fantastic. A lot of stucco, though, but a lot of art-stuff too. A cool destination! I wouldn't live there, but it's worth a vaca...

-johnathan-


marellen 5 years ago

Well, for some people moving on is for them but its not for everyone. Whatever works for that individual. You seem like an aggressive person and there is nothing wrong with that. My son moved to San Francisco from a smaller town for school. He was homesick but stuck it out and I'm so proud of him. Where he goes next will be another adventure. Thanks for sharing.....


izettl profile image

izettl 5 years ago from The Great Northwest Author

Johnathan~ yes, I will do a vacation there first. I have a cousin in New Mexico so I could visit there too. My daughter is still young so we'd have to move before she starts school- now I have a bit more to consider when moving than i did when I was 22.


Johnathan L Groom profile image

Johnathan L Groom 5 years ago from Bristol, CT

well, I am thirty, and I have learned to vacation it first, of course. a tourist attraction differs from a viable residence! have fun izettl!!!

-johnathan-


izettl profile image

izettl 5 years ago from The Great Northwest Author

marellen~ I totally agree with some people need to move on and others don't have that desire- I respect both decisions. It's one of those...to each is own.

That's the thing merellen- I was painfully shy in high school, but I had to escape that perception of me because it wasn't really my choice, just the title I got and I started growing into it over time. Moving gave me newfound confidence and opened me up. I really had to open up to make new friends in a new city- it was like throwing someone in the water so they learn to swim.

San Fran is a great city- that would definitely be an adventure! I know that homesick feeling but good for your son sticking it out- it's hard, but in my opinion, worth it


izettl profile image

izettl 5 years ago from The Great Northwest Author

Johnathan~ 30, you're not as young as I thought. That's awesome you still think fun is crucial...as you were commenting in my other hub.

There are certain places I can tell I wouldn't like wihtout even going. You mentioned Texas and that's one of those places. I've been to a few places in the mid west and that's not for me.


Johnathan L Groom profile image

Johnathan L Groom 5 years ago from Bristol, CT

Well, intellectuals tend to (generally) come from a more educated place on average, with the exception of the idiot-savant. I am from New England, and yourself being from (I assume) either progressive Oregon or intelligent Washington and the like, I am sure u can survive anywhere. Best of luck no matter- if u go to Arizona, eat a hotpepper for me... lol

-johnathan-


izettl profile image

izettl 5 years ago from The Great Northwest Author

yes, I moved from Small town across the water from Seattle and now in Portland, OR. Arizona food wuld certainly agree with me well- hotter the better!!


TheManWithNoPants profile image

TheManWithNoPants 5 years ago from Tucson, Az.

Interesting thoughts, and of course very well written Laura. Makes me think. Born in Texas, moved to Nebraska at 13 or 14. Finished schooling there, then went with the company. In 13 years it was Chicago, Ft Wayne Ind., Indy, Cincy, Denver, Dallas, San Antonio, San Jose. Then went on my own, and it was Casper Wyoming, San Diego, Huntington Beach, and Arizona. All things considered, Arizona is my favorite hands down. No place is perfect I doubt, but if you DO find such a place you damn sure don't want to move there, cause there's no place to look forward to going for vacation or retirement. At least that's my thinking. :/

jim


Johnathan L Groom profile image

Johnathan L Groom 5 years ago from Bristol, CT

i would like to visit Oregon- I hear it's wonderful-


Pamela99 profile image

Pamela99 5 years ago from United States

Great article. I'm glad you had the courage to move and live your dream. I think your hub will give others courage to do the same thing instead of just settling for something they don't want. Rated awesome.


Sharyn's Slant profile image

Sharyn's Slant 5 years ago from Northeast Ohio USA

Hi izettl,

This was a very enjoyable, well written piece. I am actually back living in the house I grew up in. I am not happy. I need to get it together and take more risks. Thanks for the motivation!

Sharyn


Husky1970 5 years ago

What a great hub izettl. You express yourself so clearly and it was very pleasant to hear of your journey and experiences. Leaving a small town and all the security that it provides can be very difficult. I worked full time on the island of Martha's Vineyard for 4 years and the phenomenon of young people wanting to stay is very interesting. Many can't even though they want to because of the economics. Lack of job opportunities and the extremely high cost of real estate are the main obstacles. Although the Vineyard is not actually a small town (check out my hub on the population of Martha's Vineyard) the same mentality exists. I loved your hub because it was so honest and personal. Thanks for sharing. Voted up, useful, awesome, and beautiful.


Old Poolman profile image

Old Poolman 5 years ago from Rural Arizona

Laura, Arizona would welcome you with open arms if you decide to relocate again.

My father worked heavy construction, like bridges and highways, so as a child I frequently found myself living in a new town and attending a new school. One lesson this type situation gives is the ability to adapt, and to easily make new friends. It can also cause itchy feet when you reach adulthood, and I have lived in many different places. I have this wanderlust streak where when I travel through a town for the first time, and I have to wonder what it would be like to live there. Fortunately, my wife is a good counterbalance, and she has finally nailed both of my feet to the ground here in Arizona.

Things I noticed in some of the small towns was the reluctance of many of the young people to leave after they graduated, as you pointed out in your hub. As Husky pointed out in his comment, there is rarely a good job market in these small towns, so many are forced to leave to seek employment. Some found good jobs and moved on with their lives, others returned shortly after leaving, and moved back in with their parents. I suspect that for some who had been big fish in the small pond, the competition they encountered in the ocean was more than they could deal with. Some very talented young people I know are basically wasting their talents because they just can't leave that place they call home. At times I envy those who chose to stay in one place, and made a good life for themselves and their family. But I will never regret the experiences I have had, the people I have met, and the sights I have seen in my earlier days.

This was a great hub by the way.


kerlynb profile image

kerlynb 5 years ago from Philippines, Southeast Asia, Earth ^_^

Girl, I can relate! Many of the folks from our place go out of town, no, out of the country, to look for better opportunities. Thanks for this hub!


synotrip profile image

synotrip 5 years ago

Very nice pictures!


Neil Sperling profile image

Neil Sperling 5 years ago from Port Dover Ontario Canada

Cool hub - I've moved so often in my life i am almost a gypsy .... maybe I am one even. I relate well to this hub, it blows my mind when people stay in same place all their life - you can always go back after an adventure but no moves in a life to me equals a shallow outlook. Great info.


izettl profile image

izettl 5 years ago from The Great Northwest Author

theman~ thanks for stopping by. Arizona, as you know, is on my radar. I think the complete change in scenery would be good or bad- not sure which yet. I moved from my small hometown because it was overgrown with big trees and they were crowding me out, but still by the water and I love that aspect. Arizona may not have enough water for me- lol. I love the water and beach- just went to the Oregon Coast yesterday. There is something about water as far as the eye can see.

Anyway, you've definitely covered some ground. Nebraska and Wisconsin and Texas are lowest on my list. I definitely didn't like Nebraska- dusty and old and my husband's ex wife lives there- lol.


izettl profile image

izettl 5 years ago from The Great Northwest Author

johnathan~ Oregon is great because of the diversity in scenery (and people)- goes from incredible waterfalls, beach (Oregon Coast) which the prettiest place on earth that I have been to, neat farming towns, and mountain scenery too. There's a little of everything- I think you said you were liberal in politics. Most of Oregon is very liberal, almost too much for me because I'm a bit in the middle on politics.


izettl profile image

izettl 5 years ago from The Great Northwest Author

Pamela~ thanks for reading. Moving was a great decision for me and starting over was the icing on the cake. Everybody likes a fresh start and I hope it does inspire someone.


izettl profile image

izettl 5 years ago from The Great Northwest Author

Sharyn~ I hope you do find a way out if that's what you want. Sounds like you need it- best of luck. Don't think about it too long before you act on it!


izettl profile image

izettl 5 years ago from The Great Northwest Author

kerlynb~ I was shocked how many people didn't leave my hometown. I think it's good to at least get out and see something else. Out of the country- wow, more power to them!

synotrip~ thanks!

Neil Sperling~ Moving or at least visiting many places really gives you a unique perspective about yourself and the world. My moves have always awakened parts in myself I never knew I had- some good some bad, but luckily mostly good where I'm at now. However, that doesn't mean I will stay here forever. I'm with you, I don't know how people stay in one place most of their lives. THanks for stopping by.


izettl profile image

izettl 5 years ago from The Great Northwest Author

Husky~ I can see there might be an allure to Martha's Vineyard, a beautiful place from the pics I've seen. I think some people from big cities enjoy the change of pace in a small town. I think I wanted to get out of a small town because I grew up in one so there was not much left to appreciate. THanks for your compliments and I'm glad you stopped by to read.

Poolman Mike~ There are many military areas up north by Seattle and I knew a lot of people who relocated a lot (navy bratts)- it does something to a kid for sure so I could see where you'd have that wanderlust, but your wife is good influence to keep you grounded. you bring up great points about big fish in a small town- so true about where i came from too. there were those people who peaked in high school. the only thing I miss is that many of my old friends are still there and they are still friends. I have made a lot of friends where I live but not super close like the ones I had. Luckily I still have some contact with them. THanks for sharing Mike.


kaydenlee profile image

kaydenlee 5 years ago from www.kaydenlee.com

Nice. Such an honest take on leaving your hometown. That small town life is definitely for some, and not others, and "trapped" is exactly how you feel when you are not where you want to be. Nice article.


W. B. Isley profile image

W. B. Isley 5 years ago from Monett, MO

Great how-to! I had help when I left my hometown. Going to work for Big Brother was a great way to move with most expenses paid. The Air Force was useful in that respect. I was able to get a bigger perspective on life than I had while growing up outside of a town of 6,000 on a farm.

The interesting thing for me is that, after being gone for almost 20 years, I followed my heart and moved back. The woman I chose to marry was ready to move with me when I took her out into the middle of a dark field and told her to look up on a clear night. She simply said, "Let me know when you are ready to move." We've been here for a little over two years now.

You are right, most of the folks I went to school with are still here and haven't changed much. It is just amazing. I have not adopted the small town philosophy though. I don't think small when I think about things. This is something my mother taught me before I left. It has paid me back handsomely over the years.


izettl profile image

izettl 5 years ago from The Great Northwest Author

thanks kaydenlee


izettl profile image

izettl 5 years ago from The Great Northwest Author

W.B.~ I'm sure you wouldn't have been the same person if you hadn't had gotten away for a while and seen some of the world. I'd go anywhere too for someone I loved.

I know exactly what you mean about the small time philosophy- so true and a great way to put it. No thinking small here for me either.

Thanks for stopping by and reading and sharing your story.


W. B. Isley profile image

W. B. Isley 5 years ago from Monett, MO

Laura, I'm positive that I wouldn't have been able to transcend my Baptist upbringing as quickly as I did if I hadn't left. If I'd stayed here it would have been more difficult to break free of the ties that bind, "literally". To me it feels like that mind control curse in Harry Potter. There is something about the small town mentality that says, "Just stay small. You don't need to grow beyond 'this' point. This is all you need to aspire to be. You'll be just fine right here."

Granted, there has been growth in my home town since I've left. There are at least 1,400 more people here since I left. There is a national bank software building company that settled here and that brought money to the community. That money has been responsible for several positive changes. However, there is still a cloud over the place (as there is over any city), that begs me to just settle down and fit in. I've seen too much and know too much to go back to being satisfied just being "little bitty" as the song goes.

Thank you for writing stuff like this. People need to know about it.


mitshell profile image

mitshell 5 years ago from worlwide

Leaving your small town can be very difficult, but with your aim of leaving, you can accomplish your task


izettl profile image

izettl 5 years ago from The Great Northwest Author

W.B.~ luckily as soon as I had a feeling of wanting more for myself, I hung onto to it until I could get out. I saw many dreams die because my friends just didn't leave. Like you say...a curse.

When I go back, I see people with regrets becase eventually you learn a little more about life as you get older and the 'what could have been' is starting to kick in on people I knew who stayed.

I hope there are some that get a message from this hub topic. I was just reflecting on what made me 'me' and the first pivotal thing was making a move out of my hometown- I had long forgotten this until recently.

The town I'm from is quaint, always exciting in the summer because it is a tourist town- many interesting visitors. But like you I feel that cloud over it. Thanks again for the read.


izettl profile image

izettl 5 years ago from The Great Northwest Author

Thanks mitshell, I completely agree.


Lord De Cross profile image

Lord De Cross 5 years ago

Nice hub Izettl. Been all over the world except Paris. If you stop by Jersey on your way to sweet home Arizona, lol! let me know. Might take you to Atlantic City. Ciao!


prasetio30 profile image

prasetio30 5 years ago from malang-indonesia

Nice information, my friend. I have a plan to move from my house parent and I'll live in my new house. I know that new place is something refreshing, but we never forget the beautiful memories from the old place. Thank you very much for share this information. Very inspiring and I learn much from you. I give my vote to you.

Prasetio


izettl profile image

izettl 5 years ago from The Great Northwest Author

lord de cross~ Atlantic City looks fabulous from the pics I've seen. There are other places I want to see before settling on a new, ore permanent destination. Haven't been to east coast...hmmm..


izettl profile image

izettl 5 years ago from The Great Northwest Author

prasetio~ I think I have better memories of my home town now that I've moved. Good luck with your move- it can be a beautiful new adventure. THank you for your kind words and stopping by to comment.


Nell Rose profile image

Nell Rose 5 years ago from England

Hi, this sounds like me sometimes! I did move away from my small town/village, and spent about 7 years staying in different areas, quite close to my town, but far enough away to begin afresh, but I now live back here again! and the funny thing is that apart from being by the coast, which I would love to be, my town is probably the best one around here! lol cheers nell


izettl profile image

izettl 5 years ago from The Great Northwest Author

Nell~ Great to see you and thank you for the comment. As long as you're happy- I've known a few people who go back and are happy. They got away long enough to experience other towns and came back to enjoy their life. For me though, my old howmetown has a dark cloud over it- it just feels that way.


manthy profile image

manthy 5 years ago from Alabama,USA

Nice hub - you really thought out of the box for you.

I think this might be your best hub yet, maybe it will encourage someone to take a leap of faith.

I sure hope so - voted up and awesome


izettl profile image

izettl 5 years ago from The Great Northwest Author

manthy~ thanks for the great compliments and vote up.


gmwilliams profile image

gmwilliams 3 years ago from the Greatest City In The World-New York City, New York

Izetti, great article. There are adventurous and fierce souls who want to do something different and make their marks and oftentimes it is better to leave an environment and to reinvent oneself and try something new. This applies whether it is a small town or a neighborhood. Many people feel that their neighborhood is exactly not a positive place or in their growth gameplan. It is always best to explore and ......BE! Or as the old adage states, ' GO WEST! GO WEST!


izettl profile image

izettl 3 years ago from The Great Northwest Author

Thanks gmwilliams. great to see you around here. And yes, west is best!!!


alisharenee profile image

alisharenee 3 years ago from Myrtle Beach SC

I LOVE this! As I was reading I couldn't help but think that this article was describing me in every aspect. I graduated high school in a tiny town in Nevada. After graduating I moved to New York for college. Best decision I've ever made, by far. Now I've been in NY for 7 years and I'm ready for another change...so in about 27 days I am relocating to Myrtle Beach. I've always been a wanderer...it's in my blood! Now I get to take my husband with me, who happens to have lived in the same town his entire life. I can't wait to show him how much more is out there as long as you're not afraid to experience it!


izettl profile image

izettl 3 years ago from The Great Northwest Author

alisha~ great to hear your story! Wow you moved quite far. I was tempted to move from west to east coast but never did. I love the area I'm in but my husband and I are thinking of relocating before our small kids start school, maybe down to Arizona, for a change in climate. His job is easy to relocate with...thank goodness. Well good luck in Myrtle Beach.


Zr 2 years ago

Im Even more inspired than i already was, very good read, im saving money and in 3 months, blowing this popsicle stand of a small town and heading 1500 miles to explore the art scene and explore. Time for something new


izettl profile image

izettl 2 years ago from The Great Northwest Author

Zr,

WONDERFUL...and good luck!

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