I Was Never A Small Town Girl — I Was A Girl Stuck In A Small Town

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woman looking at the sky

By Madison Flatman

A couple of years ago, I visited the town I grew up in. Once the car wheels passed the state line, everything began to feel familiar to me.

We passed places I went for school field trips to, local restaurants I used to go to frequently, and playgrounds that my friends and I would place our hands on thousands of times.

One of those friends made plans with me to meet for dinner that night.

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She invited me to a recently-opened Mexican restaurant where we sipped on margaritas and exchanged stories of what was going on in our lives. Midway through the conversation, some random guy runs into the restaurant and bodyslams a guy at a nearby table onto our table.

My friend looks at me, chuckles, and says, “Welcome back.”

As a kid, I didn’t think too much of a world outside of where I grew up. I grew accustomed to the abandoned houses with wood-covered windows since I associated them with places I enjoyed like the local museum.

When I wasn’t at these places, things would begin to hit me, and I’d notice the pile of bills lying around the house. Then, I’d distract myself by imagining a world where I could be anything I wanted.

As I grew older, I still had dreams, but many of my peers started to lose sight of theirs. Due to the poor education system and poverty-stricken environment, many would drop out of school due to a lack of motivation. Many would find themselves in situations such as teenage pregnancy, gangs, and drugs.

I started to see the cracks in what I once saw through rose-colored glasses.

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I started to see the anger in the eyes of those around me. Also, I realized that life is too short to live a life you settled for. So by the age of 14, I started to envision a world outside of where I lived.

I remember wondering why anyone would want to remain in a town that limited you from your potential.

I was able to get a taste of larger cities as I had family in cities such as Chicago and Madison. My heart began to crave the feeling of planting my feet into a town where something was always going on.

Eventually, I fulfilled my dream by moving to Madison, Wisconsin, just a few months after my 17th birthday.

Since moving to a bigger city, I’ve enriched myself with different cultures and opportunities that wouldn’t have been possible in a town with less than 40,000 people.

I’ve gotten to meet many incredible people who have all, in one way or another, given me memories that I’ll hold in my heart for a lifetime. I’ve gotten to dive deeper into myself and try new things that wouldn’t have been as easily accessible in a smaller town.

So if you need a sign to leave your small town, this is it. Go for it.

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Madison Flatman is a singer, drummer, and writer from Wisconsin and a frequent contributor to Unwritten. Her work focuses on topics of wellness, relationships, and mental health.

This article was originally published at Unwritten. Reprinted with permission from the author.