Imagine going the experience of living in a huge city. You don’t need to use your car. Reliable public transportation exists and you can walk around safely. Anything you can imagine is at your fingertips. The hustle and bustle don’t worry you anymore and you just can live. Then imagine yourself being transported to the middle of nowhere where all of those things don’t exist. I know I’m exaggerating, but I had that exact experience. It took a lot for my hatred to turn to toleration.
I know I am not the first to say this, but I hate my hometown.
My parents moved me from New Jersey down to Florida and everyone always told me that I should love it down here. People always gush about the warm weather year-round. I appreciate certain aspects of it, such as the wonderful beaches and the beautiful afternoon summer storms. Unfortunately, not many retirees down here understand my love for the changing seasons and to actually experience snow in the winter. Part of me feels like my parents took that experience from me, though I know they wanted to not have to worry about plowing the driveway every winter. On top of that, they decided to settle in a small town far away from anything that normal teenagers might consider fun. The nicer beaches are at least a two-hour drive away, as well as any cities such as Tampa or Orlando.
Needless to say, the lack of activities and the brutal summer heat made me hate my hometown more the older I got. You can only drive to Target and wander through the aisles so many times before you get tired of it.
That drove me to leave Florida for college. Deciding I most likely wouldn’t appreciate the intensity of New York City, I settled in Washington D.C. Let me tell you, that change of scenery and the walkability of the city made my wildest dreams come true. Nothing could truly describe the joy living there for a few years made me feel. I tried multiple different cuisines from multiple different cultures. I met so many incredible people, forming wonderful bonds with them that I know I will keep for the rest of my life. I lived within walking distance of many of the national monuments and museums. The overload of activities kept me happy and busy.
Fairy tales don’t last forever and neither did my time in Washington D.C.
Graduation crept up on me faster than I imagined it would. Before I knew it, I had to leave the place that I considered my new home. On top of that, I ended up moving back home. My mother grew ill my final semester of my senior year and unfortunately passed. That left both my brother and I with responsibilities in our childhood home that neither of us expected. I planned on transferring to get my master’s degree after graduation anyway, so I settled for the one online program I applied for. I knew the program suited me well, and it would help me handle some of the responsibilities left for me. So, I moved back home.
In my first month home, I reconnected with my few friends from high school and did my best to make the most out of this situation. I had been away for such a long time at that point that doing so really helped me enjoy that one month. But the more that time passed, the more I began to find myself giving into the familiar loathing that my hometown made me feel. I had two options. I could either give into it entirely and rip apart everything that annoyed me in the slightest or I could try to turn my attitude towards appreciation. I chose the latter option.
Finding things to appreciate ended up a much harder task than originally anticipated.
I told myself to point out one thing each day that I enjoyed about where I lived. I tried to do this a lot whenever I drove to work. Sometimes I would see cute cows grazing in the fields, only to scowl at the realization that I had to actually drive somewhere instead of walking like I used to. That paired with “I Know The End” by Phoebe Bridgers spiraled me back into the same negative thought process. Every time that I found myself with that type of thought surrounding my current situation, I forced myself to stop and think as to why I thought that way. Finding the root of this hatred helped me dismantle my negative feelings bit by bit. I don’t like admitting it, but the negative thoughts were very irrational. I compare them to a child having a temper tantrum. I am still quite embarrassed by them, even if no one can peek into my mind to see them.
I worked hard to give myself things to look forward to. I treated myself to my favorite coffee drink every Friday on my way to my part-time job, which helped me gain a bit of excitement towards the end of the week. I scheduled extra time to hang out with my childhood best friend that I hadn’t seen much since I went to Washington D.C. I settled into a routine that involved nature walks and seeing the scenery that I hadn’t in ages.
The more that I found little things to enjoy, the more that my hatred for my hometown disappeared.
I realized that I wouldn’t stay here a long time ago, but after everything that happened with my mom, my responsibilities kept me here. I think that began the downward spiral of negativity that I felt. I was my biggest enemy, not my hometown. I never thought I would feel the appreciation I feel now. I still don’t like living here, but living here now doesn’t feel unbearable. This phase of my life will pass eventually and life is too short to continuously have negativity surrounding you. If you find yourself in my shoes, know that you can leave eventually. But if you find yourself stuck in one spot for too long, try finding little things that bring you joy. You never know just how happy it can make you feel.