1. “What do you do?”
Small towns are as big or as little as you make them. On top of all the regular things there are to do — bars, movies, friends’ houses, shopping — there is also this wonderful thing called The Outdoors, where you can walk or run or bike or just generally get lost for a while. In fact, one of my favorite things to do is just get in my car on a warm night, roll down the windows, turn up my music, and drive for as long as I feel like. Some people like the constant surroundings of noise and strangers, and I get that, but a lot of people like the freedom that comes with being so close to nature. Small towns can give you both worlds (my town has both a nice, relatively busy downtown, and a ton of greenery everywhere).
2. “You should try living in [insert their city here].”
No, thank you! I am sure that you love Chicago, or LA, or New York, or whatever, and that’s great for you! But it’s likely that I have been to these places, and for whatever reason, have decided that they aren’t for me. Just because something is right for you does not mean it’s the only thing worth experiencing.
3. “How do you meet new people?”
Well, I usually start by going outside, but if that doesn’t work, I check the internet where people from all over the world can come together and find each other. When I tell people in big cities that I have a dance class, and a boyfriend I met online, and a pretty wide group of friends to go out with, they try to hide their shock. But the truth is that a lot of people live in smaller towns, and we have no trouble meeting each other. It might take a little more work at first, but I think the people are worth the effort.
4. “I wish I could pay that little in rent!”
Umm, you can pay that little. I pay 700 dollars for my own one-bedroom in a cute colonial with hardwood floors and high ceilings. No one is stopping you from also getting that much for your dollar, but you would have to live out here, where there isn’t a bodega or a dive bar or an overpriced nail salon on every corner. (By the way, if you are choosing to live somewhere that demands you pay one thousand dollars to share a tiny, rat-infested one-bedroom, you shouldn’t be looking at me to reconsider my life choices.)
5. “I could never live without Seamless.”
This seems like something that not a lot of people would say, and yet, I’ve heard it on multiple occasions in the last year or so. I get that Seamless is convenient, but a) people in towns of all sizes have delivery food, it just takes like one extra step, and b) really? Is having a bunch of restaurants on the same website really that much of a perk of city life?
6. “You should do the big city while you’re young!”
Not everyone lives their youth the same way, and while a lot of people seem to think that “being young” is synonymous with “finding yourself in the big city,” there are a lot of ways that people go about finding themselves. For a lot of people, the fresh air, relaxed attitude, and comfort of a smaller town is the perfect place to establish yourself as a balanced, happy adult. It doesn’t mean that city life is any less fun, it just means that our choice is valid, too.
7. “Something something something New York.”
I am not interested in New York, never have been, and likely never will be. Yes, I’ve been there. No, I don’t really want to go back. Sorry, it is not the only city to live and love and be a 20-something. Do we have to keep talking about it?
8. “When are you going to move?”
I hate to break it to you, but I’m not. I’m not “stuck” here, it’s the place I like to be, and smaller town life is a choice that a lot of people embrace. It might not be for you, but pretending like all of us are just waiting for our big train ticket to start our real lives is frustrating and, frankly, ignorant. Maybe one day I might move, but I might not, and that doesn’t mean I missed out on anything. Big cities are great to visit, but for me, they’re just not where I want to spend my life.