When Your Big Dreams Are Too Big For Your Small Town

Elisa Paolini
Elisa Paolini

Everything I’ve ever known is small. I left one small town to move to an even small town. My life growing up was like a country song. I lived and learned down old dirt roads; I sat on truck tailgates on the weekends drinking cheap beer. I spent days wandering through the woods or down at the lake and nights looking up at the stars or driving around back roads.

I love that the waitress knows my order as soon as I walk through the door. I love that my phone automatically connects to the bars Wi-Fi, almost as it’s a second home. I love that you’re bound to run into someone you know every time you go to the store. I love that I can knock on my neighbor’s door if I need anything at all and how willing people always are to lend a hand. I love every relationship you build in small communities and I love everything that defines a small town.

As much as I love the small town lifestyle, as much as I want the small town life in my future, right now these small towns are too small for the dreams in my head and I can’t stay until I wander first.

I’ve always felt like I’m missing out on so many unique and beautiful parts of life. I can look at as many pictures as my heart desires, and read as many books as I can collect but none of that will ever fill the void inside me. Living vicariously will never do it for me; I need to experience the beauty, the culture and the feelings of being there first handedly.

I want to see every mountain and feel every crashing ocean wave over the shore. I want to lay out on the beach in the Caribbean and volunteer at an elephant sanctuary in Thailand. I want to go skydiving and hike the Appalachian Mountain Trail. I want to snow shoe in the artic and drive through the deserts. I want to build schools in Nicaragua and see the northern lights. There is no limit on the places I want to go, things I want to experience and cultures I want to immerse myself in.

With that desire comes fear. Fear of the unknown, fear of leaving the comfort I’ve grown so used to, fear of failure and fear of not feeling like I can do it.

I’m afraid of everything that could go wrong, but what about everything that could go right?

The small town shaped me to the person I am today. It’s giving me the opportunities to travel, it’s given me the desires I feel inside me and it’s given me the heart that always throbs for more. Maybe it’s because I don’t want to get stuck in the same rut everyone else in these small towns seem to get stuck in or maybe it’s because I learned just how insignificant I am in this giant world we live in that I need to explore it. Regardless of the reasoning, the small town gave me the courage to explore because I always know I have a small town to return home to.

After the adventures slow down and the wanderlust gradually fades away and I unpack my bags and hang up my picture frames I want to return to the small town lifestyle. I want to shop at the local farmers markets and have coffee with my neighbors. I want to find a routine and a job, definitely not a 9-5 job, I don’t think I’ll ever be accustomed to that, but a job I love. I want the waitresses to relearn my order after I’ve been gone and I want to see old friends at the grocery store.

As much as I want to fulfill all my big dreams and desires, I will always have a small town heart and I know that when I return to that place nothing will be the same, but neither will I. TC mark

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