“Chase your dreams but always know the road that will lead you home again” – Tim McGraw
Growing up, I never realized that my hometown was considered small because Petrolia, TX was the only home I’d ever known.
Everything seemed normal about my hometown. My family lived there, I played sports, I hung out with friends…I pretty much did the same things as every other kid.
It wasn’t until I was in my 20’s and moved away from home that I realized just how small my hometown was. Now, recognizing this fact didn’t change the way I felt about it. If anything, it made me more proud.
For some reason, there’s a stigma associated with being raised in a less populated area. I’ve never really understood this, but it’s definitely a fact.
Somehow, people have developed this preconceived notion that residents of small towns aren’t as smart or educated as the rest of the world which is completely false.
Now I know this isn’t a universal opinion, but it’s definitely a prevalent one. I can’t tell you how many negative reactions I’ve gotten when I tell people where I’m from.
People would look at me like some sad puppy left at the shelter. One time someone even responded with “oh you poor thing.” All I could do was shake my head and walk away.
I wrote this article to correct all the naysayers. I grew up with some amazing friends that supported me no matter what. I was surrounded by my loving family, and I was a part of an incredible church community. I participated in sports, just like “big-city” kids.
I am no different than anyone else.
While I’ve been trying to explain growing up in a small town to my new friends, I’ve realized just how much hometown pride comes with it.
While I don’t see myself ever living in Petrolia again, I will forever be grateful for all the important lessons it’s taught me.
Growing up in a small town, you learn that:
1.) FAMILY IS EVERYTHING
I was so incredibly blessed to have my entire family living within 30 minutes of my house. This allowed us to celebrate birthdays, holidays and even Sunday afternoons together. My family bond is something that has constantly kept me going, and without this upbringing I wouldn’t be the person that I am today.
2.) HOW TO BE SELF SUFFICIENT
In Petrolia, TX we legitimately only have one blinking stoplight so a traffic jam is like 4 cars being stuck behind a tractor on the road. We don’t have a Walmart or Target to run to if we need groceries. There are no restaurants or fast food joints to grab something quick. With this being said, you learn to be extremely self sufficient.
As a kid growing up in a small town, you learn to be really creative. Back in the day, video games weren’t such a big deal. We loved playing outside and riding our bikes. We used to get together and make crafts, have dance parties and dream about what we’d become when we were older.
4.) HARD WORK
Petrolia is (as you probably guessed) out in the middle of nowhere. It’s a farming community full of people who’s families have lived there for generations. My dad grew up tending cattle and baling hay on my Grandmother’s land. He would wake up super early, work on the farm, go to school, and come home to more work. Seeing my family and fellow residents work so diligently gave me a great example of commitment.
One of the biggest things I learned from my tiny hometown was the importance of community. When tragedy struck, we were always there for one another. When we had victories, we always celebrated together. My town became my family, something I could always count on to be there through the highs and the lows.
My little town may not be ritzy or be full of fancy mansions and big city malls. The people there may not have the newest clothes or cars. My town may not possess the things that most people consider necessities, but I’m proud to say I grew up here. The pride that I feel is something that some people will never get to experience.
So to those who still think small town people are hillbillies or white trash, I have one thing to say…don’t ever dismiss a place until you’ve been there.
I can tell you that you don’t need to feel sorry for me. You don’t need to feel like I’ve been given the short end of the stick just because I didn’t grow up in the big city.
I will forever be grateful for the life lessons, family and friends I was given the day I was born into this wonderful community. I thank everyone who grew up or still resides there for the incredible memories they gave me.
If you ever decide to visit Petrolia, TX just know that you’ll be greeted with a welcoming smile and a handshake from one of the kindest people you’ll ever meet.
Myka Shantell 💋