Growing up in a small town, many people feel like they're boxed into the confines of the town limits: they know everyone they grow up with, graduate high school, attend the local community college, move on to get a degree in something they're not passionate about, settle for a job with average pay, then start a family of their own somewhere along the way, and the cycle starts again. Call it "the small town curse." This is not the case for the dreamers, for the wanderers, for those who wish to explore different avenues in larger cities, and will stop at nothing to do so.
Growing up in a small town, I didn't know of many people who have left. We've had a few (notably one) who left to pursue music, and they will probably be the talk of the town for the next century. So when my sister told me that she was planning to move across to country to California, to a big city to pursue her dream of becoming a lawyer, I laughed so hard I cried.
"Good luck trying to convince mom," I told her.
My sister does not talk about her feelings a lot, so I remember this day clearly. She looked me in the eyes, and explained her dreams to me, and explained how hard she is working to make it happen. I believed her, and I believed in her.
Mom was not happy, but was willing to help her if she did her part of getting into a good school, and getting a reasonable amount of scholarship to make the move worthwhile. She did. After she moved, my mom cried for two weeks, maybe more. Sometimes, I would catch her crying holding on to a picture of my sister.
"What are you mourning for?" I asked her, "She's still alive."
"I'm just sad," she cried.
"Why did you let her go?" I questioned, although, the first night she was gone, I slept in her bed, missing her more than I thought I ever would.
"I would never hold my girls back from their dreams, just because I will miss them," she said. "That would be selfish of me, I want the best for the both of you. Always."
This would not be the first time my mom would remind us that she is always on our team. She is waving the team flag, she would say. We have to trust her, because she only wants the best for us. I wonder if she ever regrets saying that, when we call her at 2 in the morning to tell her a joke that isn't funny, or we call her twelve times a week, crying over the same stupid boy.
Since I was ten years old, I never had a home. After my parents divorce, I spent half my time at my moms house, and half at my dads house, very careful that each parent was getting enough time and attention. I never felt like I had a place I could call my own. This continued when we moved to Florida, traveling back and forth from New York to Tampa, to see my friends back home, and leaving behind those I never took the time to make in my new "home." I'm unsettled and still roaming. Just like my sister, I want to find my place. After exploring Tampa, and realizing I don't belong in a big city, I have always dreamed of moving my roots permanently to Tennessee. That's my place, I'm sure of it. It is comforting to me that although the dream might sound crazy, my family never laughed at me not once, but is supportive.
First step is graduation, which I am trying to make happen earlier. My mom on board, said just like she did for my sister, she wants to help me make the move. This touched my heart, because I have never felt more at home and more comfortable in my situation, than I did while I was in Tennessee. I felt a sense of belonging for the first time. I want to pick up my city roots, and settle for the first time in a small town. I want to work at a small town paper, where I can do what I love everyday, comfortably. My only dream in life is to keep going up. I never want someone to look back on all of my accomplishments and say, "oh yeah, that's where she peaked," or "what happened to her? she was doing so well?" I set high standards for myself, and from here, the only place to go is up. Keep challenging my comfort zone, keep putting in the work, keep dreaming, and making those dreams come to life.
The only limitations on your dreams, are the ones you impose on yourself.