OPINION: Leaving your hometown broadens your horizons

Maggie Lewis, Staff Writer

When I was in high school, people always asked me why I wanted to leave so badly. They couldn’t understand why I would leave when I had everything I needed. To them, life was centered around our two Mexican restaurants, the churches that existed on each corner of town, and the parties that went down in the cornfields every Friday and Saturday nights. They had never left and had no intention of leaving our small town.

There is a mentality in that community that you work hard so you can play equally as hard. What I quickly realized is that no part of me wanted to work in the “good ole boys club” environment that my hometown had cultivated. To be someone, you had to know someone. You had to have the right look, the right last name, and the right skillset.

 It became rather clear to me from a young age that there wasn’t a space for me. I didn’t have a  prominent last name, and I certainly didn’t succumb to their ideal look. I was me, and that proved to be hard for some to understand. 

Growing up, my one and only goal was to leave the parochial town that I was raised in. This wasn’t because the area was particularly unenjoyable, it would be nearly impossible to focus only on the bad parts of Bedford, Indiana. I could never look down at the place that made me who I am today.

With that being said, there’s a reason I longed to get out. I wished and hoped for an opportunity to leave because leaving helps you grow. Not just for me, but for everyone. 

Leaving your hometown forces you to see yourself as your own person and flourish into who you truly are. 

The years after finishing high school provide you with your own personal coming of age story, but choosing where and how to come of age isn’t easy.

But getting out of your comfort zone is what makes you grow, and that can be a hard concept to understand and an even harder concept to enact. 

For me, leaving my hometown has broadened every horizon. I’ve started putting action toward the injustices I’ve seen, I’ve met all new kinds of people, and I’ve uncovered new ideas about my purpose in life. 

None of this would have been possible for me if it wasn’t for those sleepy streets of Bedford that taught me what I didn’t want for my life.

While I chose a college in a southern city instead of staying in my tiny, Midwest town, there are other people who’ve had positive experiences leaving their hometowns. I’ve talked to people from Boston to San Francisco, and they shared with me how grateful they are to have been able to see life from a different perspective, in a completely different place from where they grew up.

I understand that moving 11 hours from everything and everyone you know isn’t the solution for everyone. Realistically, it’s only a solution for a fraction of people. That being said, you don’t have to pack up the things you own and move to find a new perspective. 

I cannot recommend enough to find the resources to get yourself out of the bubble you were raised in. Just taking a trip to a new city, even an hour away, can show you that there’s more to life than what has always been.

When giving tours to prospective students or texting my friends from high school, I often encourage them to explore what there is outside of what they already know. 

Obviously, there is no perfect plan that each person should follow, but the perspectives we gain from the world around us can help shape the plans we are all just trying to make up as we go.