Untethered: Growing Up and Small Towns

I’ve lived in the city… I’ve lived in the country. I’m pretty adaptable…

I’m not quite sure how I would like this entry to go. I have had some thoughts bouncing around in my head regarding this topic and what it means to me. I have lived in busy cities and rural towns… I find friends easily no matter where I go, but rarely do they stick. It seems that more often than not I am the one putting in the majority of the effort to maintain the friendship and then once I realize this, I give up and the connection is over. I suppose I find it hard to relate to people, and lately I have found it especially difficult to articulate to people who haven’t moved much in their lives, what it’s like to feel untethered/having no home base. Or even when I do stay in one place for a year or two, I don’t feel like I fit in. In some ways, it is freeing, and in others it is lonely.

Before I was 5 I moved twice in Michigan and then moved to Batavia, Illinois. I spent my freshman year of high school in Cedar Falls, Iowa then returned to the suburbs of Chicago. I went to undergrad down town Chicago, received my masters in rural PA (Slippery Rock University) and now I am pursuing a doctorate in Pittsburgh (Duquesne).

I grew up as an only child, though I do have two half sisters that are substantially older than me. So I did not live with them and they did not move around with me and share in my experiences. Maybe because I am an only child, I matured faster since I was used to being around and talking to adults. But contrary to popular belief, I do not like being the center of attention, as the stereotypical only-child might.

I distinctly recall in elementary and middle school in Illinois trying to fit in with this group of girls I had started to talk to, but they would get mad at each other for no reason, dumb reasons–as I termed them, anyway. An example could be taking someone’s seat at lunch. Who cares? I never did. But not feeling like I belonged did take a toll, I think, and has carried over into my adult life. Looking back, it reminds me of the movie Mean Girls: who is mad at who and “we don’t like her, do we?” I couldn’t do it. So eventually I found it not worth the mental stress and effort to try to understand or be part of it. This may be coming to mind for me now because I see the core groups of those girls in IL and IA that I was a fringe part of, are still good friends today in and around those towns. And I couldn’t join in. I, for whatever reason, couldn’t be part of you, even if I so desperately wanted to at the time… I knew I couldn’t if I were to be true to myself. I couldn’t share in that. It’s hard to not have a core base of friends that are all in the same area and town sometimes. I really wouldn’t trade my life for anything, I love it for the most part, but friendships are tricky because of time zones and such. One of my best friends is in Malaysia and I am in Pennsylvania, US… so… it’s hard to Skype when the time of day is almost opposite. It makes weddings tricky and just simply staying in touch and hanging out. Sometimes I envy people who have the majority of their posse in close proximity … for whatever reason that just wasn’t in the cards for me and it has been weighing on my mind more heavily lately. Probably because I’m just tired and it’s hard having the people you care about most be so widely dispersed. It’s hard to keep up to date with everyone and have them all keep up to date with you, even though I really try.

Or maybe this is just a basic-white-girl journal entry about not feeling like I fit in anywhere. I still sort of feel that way, but I do have a select few people I relate to well, even if I don’t see them on a regular basis. I just miss the feeling of “coming home” or feeling like I truly belong in a physical area or feel like completely comfortable around people. I haven’t had that in a long long time and I miss it.

Any of my fellow travelers/movers out there feel the same? lol. I love traveling and all of the experiences I have had in and out of this country, but I do wish I had a way of grounding myself, spiritually, in a sense. How do you do it?

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