Stephanie Pearce: Enjoy small-town living
When I was little, I dreamed of moving away and living somewhere bigger — moving somewhere with more opportunity. I wanted to move somewhere with more things to do. Then I grew up, and I realized I love where I live and wouldn’t want to raise my family anywhere else.
I hear kids complain about how there is nothing to do here. I have to disagree. I have come to realize there is so much to do in our small community; you just have to take initiative to do it. We’ve got sports every season. Look at 4-H and FFA — and it’s not just for kids with livestock, so you can’t use that excuse to not participate. Once you’ve participated in state events through such organizations, you realize a world of opportunity exists and livestock is only part of it. Sometimes you have to do a little homework, seek out things or organize them yourself, as there’s always something to do.
For those who complain that sports, 4-H and FFA are too political and your kids have no chance in making it, that is a life lesson. They may be political, but that’s no reason to not let them try. If they don’t win or get to play and you think it is for political reasons, don’t think that only happens in a small town and that it won’t happen to your kids later in life. Things like that happen in the workplace, civic clubs and even churches. Children need to learn that you don’t give up in such situations, but you just give your best every time no matter what. My kids have learned this lesson many times and didn’t let those things hold them back.
I hear people complain that there isn’t any opportunity here. It depends on what you want to do, but again, it’s what you make it. You could go to a big city, and if you don’t work to make things happen, there still won’t be opportunity. There’s a lot of opportunity living in a small town; again, you have to look for it. I have entered my children in so many contests from sewing, to speaking, to rodeo. You may have to travel to the event, like most of the other participants, but all the preparation for it can be done at home. These opportunities can be used on college applications and can even provide scholarships for college.
The thing is, these opportunities can lead you away, or you can come back home. I would like to encourage you to eventually come back home. Our small community could use people to come back and share what they know, open businesses, head up our local civic clubs and help make our community better. If most of our kids move away to start careers or families, our small towns will suffer. We need them to come back and keep us moving forward, keeping us grounded at the same time. We need them to remember the things they love about small-town life while still helping to better our communities.