Timing Is Everything.

“And then it happens…One day you wake up and you’re in this place where everything feels right. Your heart is calm. Your soul is lit. Your thoughts are positive. Your vision is clear. You’re at peace with where you’ve been, at peace with what you’ve been through and at peace with where you’re headed.” – Anonymous

 

Timing is one of the most beautiful and most frustrating concepts in the world. When the timing of things works out perfectly, it restores our hope and makes everything seem like it’s going to be okay. Yet, when it’s not on our side, it can cause a darkness that we feel we may never escape.

Honestly, I find this to be a very interesting time in my life. Almost all of my friends are in serious, committed relationships, moving in with significant others, getting married and starting families (or even doing all of the above).

I mean, I guess this time in my life was bound to happen, after all, I am about to turn 29 years old. In this generation, I’m considered old for being where I’m at in my life, but hey it’s my life so it’s all good.

As I look at how my friend group has evolved over the last few years I can’t help but smile for them. I’m seeing more and more happiness entering their lives and watching them transform into amazing husbands, wives, parents, professionals and overall great human beings.

This evolution makes my heart so full of joy for the ones I love. Seeing the timing of their lives play out just the way it was meant to after knowing their struggles is simply beautiful.

Now, just because I personally haven’t checked off those boxes yet doesn’t mean I’m behind in life, it just means that my life has a slightly different timeline. We all live at our own pace, but one thing I’ve learned is that as long as we do what’s best for our souls and create a life we truly love, things will always fall into place (definitely easier said than done).

Now don’t get me wrong, anxiety frequently causes us Anxious Minds enormous amounts of grief by making us feel like we have to keep up with everyone around us. It can make us settle for less than we deserve, feel very unworthy and bring out our darkest fears.

The pressure to measure up with society’s norms is often overwhelming. If we haven’t accomplished certain milestones by certain ages, it starts to feel like the timing of our lives may be eternally off.

And let me tell you, society won’t let you forget that you’re falling behind by their standards.

Living in this day and age with anxiety is one of the toughest things I’ve ever done. We’re constantly seeing others’ “happiness” being shoved down our throats on social media, being asked by family members when we’re going to find the one and getting little encouragement that doing our best is good enough.

I wish people would realize that every person is struggling with something, some more than others. A little positivity and reassurance goes a long way, especially when it comes to someone dealing with anxiety.

Of course I want all of those things that I listed earlier. If I had it my way, I’d already have them all checked off, but that’s just not the plan God has for my life. While I frequently get frustrated with not knowing why my path is different, all I can do is patiently wait for His timing.

Again, beautiful and frustrating all in one.

As I was dealing with the irrational, unending doubts in my head last night laying in bed something clicked in my mind. Why do I stress so much about stuff and people that I have absolutely no control over? Why do I allow society to dictate what is right and wrong about my life?

I so often forget that the story of my life has already been predestined, and as annoying as that can be throwing a tantrum about it will get me no where. Things have rarely worked out the way I thought they would and yet I’m still here, alive and breathing.

There were plenty of moments I thought I’d never make it through, yet as I sit here and reflect on them I’m so grateful that they didn’t work out the way I wanted. No’s are often God’s way of telling us that something better is in store for us.

It’s time to stop stealing the pen from the One who is in control of writing our stories. Only God knows what is truly meant for us and will make sure it enters our lives at the exact right moment.

His timing is always perfect.

Yes, I know it’s hard to wait. I struggle with patience every single day. No one can understand that inner battle more than me, but all we can do is continue to put one foot in front of the other and believe that our time is coming.

We have to believe that the timing of our life is playing out just the way it was fated to, and that one day all the trials and tribulations will make sense. One day we will have all we’ve ever wanted and so much more.

Until that day comes my Anxious Minds, we’ve got each other. For now, that will have to do.

 

XOXO,

Myka Shantell 💋

Mental Illness: Disorder NOT Decision.

“Anxiety is the most silently painful experience. It makes no sense and you sit there alone and suffer for an unknown reason. You can’t explain it, and you can’t stop it. It merely is.” – Anonymous

 

How could you think I want to feel this way? Do you think the never ending fear and dread is something I look forward to each day? You say I do it for attention, that I’m making it all up. How dare you.

You don’t believe me when I tell you my heart is pounding so fast that I feel like I’m having a heart attack. You scoff when I say I’m dizzy, scared and confused which only makes me feel worse.

I tell you I have anxiety, and you act like you don’t believe me. I open up to you about what I go through, and instead of helping you laugh. I’m glad you think this is funny because I feel like I’m dying.

You’ll never understand the fatigue that comes along with being in a constant state of fight-or-flight. You think I’m lazy when really my mind has been running a marathon. You can’t see my suffering so you don’t believe that it’s there, but trust me it’s there.

When I tell you I’m feeling anxious you tell me to “get over it” because “everyone has anxiety.” I try to explain to you that this is different, but you don’t want to hear it. You mock me and leave never realizing that you’ve completely shattered me.

You get frustrated with me because I tell you that I can’t get out of bed. You call me pathetic and worthless then walk out of the room. Little do you know that I’m paralyzed by my mental illness, and every time I wake up I’m forced to fight another battle.

You get mad and tell me I’m a terrible friend because I cancelled plans with you. You say you’re never hanging out with me again because I’m a flake. Unbeknownst to you I’m sitting on my bathroom floor crying uncontrollably for no reason, unable to move.

I try to tell you I’m sorry and that I’ll make it up to you, but you say you don’t want to hear my excuses. You curse under your breath and hang up on me not knowing that your hatred just sent me over the edge.

Not only do you hate me, but now I hate myself. I take every single word you said to heart and start telling myself how worthless I am. I repeat your harsh words over and over until they’re stuck in my mind, and then I start believing them.

After a while, I somehow find the strength to pull myself out of the darkness. I begin to have a social life and finally start to feel like a normal person. You ask me on a date, and I say yes with pure excitement.

You pick me up, and we go to dinner. We start talking about ourselves, and I decide to bring up my anxiety. Instantly your face changes, and you shut down. You take me home and tell me that you just can’t deal with my disorder. Then I never hear from you again.

Never will you realize that you’re a perfect example of why I gave up on love in the first place. I start telling myself how stupid I was to think anyone could ever love me, and you send me straight back to that dark place in my mind.

I fill my days with mindless TV and junk food just looking for something to ease the pain. I do anything I can to numb the overwhelming feelings and emotions because, despite what you think, I don’t want to feel them.

You say you’re finally ready to try and understand my anxiety disorder. You apologize for all the things you said and tell me you didn’t mean them. You sit me down and ask me to tell you what’s going on, but yet again I disappoint you.

I wish I could tell you what’s going on in my mind, but I can’t even explain it to myself. I tell you as much as I can, and when I look over at you you’re crying. You finally start to see exactly what I’m going through, and it breaks your heart.

We sit together in silence, crying and hugging each other. I finally feel somewhat understood and loved, something I haven’t felt in a long time. The biggest weight is lifted from my shoulders when you tell me I’m not alone. You’ll never know how good that feels.

With every day that passes I start to feel a little stronger, and the sun slowly starts to brighten my dark place. For the first time in a long time I begin to think that just maybe I can live a happy life despite my anxiety.

Mental illness is a disorder not a decision. No one asks for this curse, and sadly some don’t survive it. No one that suffers with these disorders did anything to deserve them. They were merely woven into our DNA.

Because there is no cure all we, who suffer from these conditions, can do is learn to live with them by taking it one day at a time. We have to surround ourselves with those who are patient with us and love us despite our flaws.

Support is critical to those of us who are dealing with these issues. We’re our biggest critics and therefor we don’t need anyone in our lives that will add to our already overwhelming negativity. If you aren’t here to help us then leave.

Although mental illness is not a decision, it is up to us to fight for our happiness. We can’t let our disorder consume us or dictate what kind of life we live. Ultimately, we control our minds.

So when the darkness starts creeping in, hold on to this…you are not your disorder, and you are not alone. The sun will shine again and when it does, it will be beautiful.

XOXO,

Myka Shantellđź’‹

 

There’s A Reason That She’s Bitter.

“I usually become a ghost to those who no longer deserve my time. I’ve never seen a point in explaining my absent to someone who failed to appreciate my presence. You don’t owe any explanations to those who hurt you.” – R.H. Sin

 

There’s a reason that she’s bitter, more than one to be exact. It’s the empty words and broken promises she’s always told.

She used to believe them, to believe that one could actually tell the truth. She used to trust others without a doubt, open arms and open heart, yet all she got was let downs.

She used to have hopes and dreams that for once someone would follow through on their word, but those words were merely spoken. Those dreams turned to nightmares full of broken hearts and tear stained pillows.

She repeatedly got knocked down by blatant lies and knives in her back. She’d finally find the strength to get back up, to heal the wounds, only to find another knife and another heartbreak.

If there’s one thing she began to realize it was that the world is a cold, emotionless, selfish place. It’s a place where treachery and hate enormously outweigh good and love. A place where no one is truly safe.

There’s a reason that she’s bitter. Despite the darkness and countless disappointments she kept on trying. She continued to put one foot in front of the other just to make it another day. That’s the thing about her, she’s a fighter ’til the end.

Yet, even fighters have their low points. Even warriors have moments of weakness, and man do people love to exploit one’s flaws. Humans are like vultures waiting to swarm on wounded prey.

There were so many times that she dropped her guard to show others her real self, only to be hurt once again. There were so many times that she went against her gut and let others in, only to be wounded once more.

Eventually, her circle got smaller, and the wall around her heart was so tall that none could pass through. That’s exactly the way she wanted it. After all the tears and heartaches, no one was allowed in.

Most people couldn’t handle the rejection. They couldn’t accept the fact that from now on they’d only get a piece of her, never realizing that it was their own disloyalty and betrayals that caused her bitterness.

After a short while, most decided she wasn’t worth fighting for and went on their way. They never questioned their actions and never even looked back. What they ultimately did was prove her point…the world is a cold place.

At first it really hurt. Being abandoned by people you once loved is no easy thing. There’s no quick way to brush off the pain that comes with being disposed of like a piece of trash, but there is a way to make sure it never happens again.

There’s a reason that she’s bitter. After being tossed to the side and left alone to pick up the pieces, she decided to become so strong that no one would ever treat her that way again. She decided from that moment on to become a savage.

As time went on, she grew a little more rigid. She stopped letting people walk all over her which lead to plenty of arguments and nights home alone. Her friends became so few that she could count them on one hand, and that’s the way she liked it.

If someone had a problem with the new her, she didn’t care. They could walk out the door, and she wouldn’t blink an eye. She was done crying over people who didn’t value her worth or treat her with respect.

Some couldn’t believe how frigid she’d become. Most people saw the friendly, outgoing, sweet girl on a daily basis, but if you double crossed her you were done…easy as that.

Even to this day people don’t seem to get it. To some a promise is nothing but words, commitment is merely an idea, loyalty is a quality that is near extinct, trust is 99.9% impossible to build and love is thrown around like it’s nothing.

Sure it may have been one broken promise, one unreturned phone call, one ignored text message, but to her it means the world. The small things are what truly matter in this life, the little things show how much you value her.

While these morals seem meaningless to our generation, they’re extremely vital to her. She places them above all and won’t settle for anyone who doesn’t feel the same. She’s settled for far to long, and she’s done with it.

So if you plan on coming into her life, take a moment to realize exactly what that entails. Be loyal, trustworthy, loving and true to your word or don’t even bother. She’s an expert at realizing intentions from the beginning, and no longer will she be fooled.

If you really want to know her, love her or be a part of her world…be honest. You’ll get all of these things and more in return, for those who are guarded are the most loyal. If you can break down their guard, the reward is exceptional.

There’s a reason that she’s bitter, more than one to be exact…

XOXO,

Myka Shantellđź’‹

Your Death Gave Me Life.

“There are moments which mark your life. Moments when you realize nothing will ever be the same and time is divided into two parts, before this, and after this…” – Unknown

 

It amazes me that 12 years have passed since that tragic day. I still remember every single detail in my mind. I remember spending that hot Summer day with my (then) boyfriend, simply enjoying the beautiful weather.

I remember my Mother answering the phone and the look of sheer terror in her eyes as she approached me. I remember feeling like something was horribly wrong but not being able to figure out what it was.

I remember hearing those words, “Jacob has passed away in an accident” and immediately falling to the floor. I remember feeling completely numb and overcome with grief. How was a 14 year old teenager suppose to understand the magnitude of what had happened?

I kept telling myself “get it together,” but all I could manage to do was crawl to the bathroom on my hands and knees. I couldn’t hear, couldn’t see, couldn’t function. I was in such shock at what I’d been told. We were kids. We were suppose to live forever not die a few weeks before our Freshman year of High School.

I remember laying on the bathroom floor for what seemed like eternity. My family continuously tried to comfort me, but nothing could take away the immense pain I felt. My best friend was gone, and I didn’t even get to say goodbye.

I remember picking up the phone and calling all of my friends. Each phone call ended the same, in heartache and grief. None of us could understand why God chose you, why you had to be the one to leave us.

I remember bits and pieces of the following days. Our school was encouraging everyone to see the counselors they provided to help us “process our grief,” but I refused. Instead, I decided to work through things on my own, a process that I’m still working on to this day.

I remember going to the funeral home to visit you one last time. Walking through that door is an image forever burned in my mind. I remember seeing your hat, the one you always wore, sticking up a little bit as I walked down the isle to you. It was a strange relief to know you’d be buried wearing something you loved so much.

I remember seeing your face, so peaceful, as if you were merely sleeping. I kept praying I’d wake up from this terrible nightmare, but I never did. I took a moment and placed your “friends” necklace in your hand. To this day I still have the matching “best” necklace that I wear to remember you.

I remember writing a poem for your funeral, determined to write the best poem ever. I remember walking in to the auditorium, my final chance to say goodbye to you. There were so many people there because you were so incredibly loved.

Each of us took an orange rose (our school color), and one by one we placed the roses in your casket. I stayed strong the entire time until I got up to read your poem. Suddenly, the fact that I’d never see you again hit me like a ton of bricks. Somehow I managed to get through it.

We placed you gently in the ground at your burial and took a moment to grieve together. I never knew that walking away from that cemetery would change everything. I never knew that your death would ultimately give me life.

I’m sure many of you are confused by that statement, but hear me out. Losing Jacob truly showed me how precious life is. It taught me that our teenage thoughts were completely wrong, we weren’t invincible after all.

Experiencing the death of a best friend at such a vulnerable, tender age made me appreciate the small things. I took my time and friendship with you for granted in so many ways. To this day, I try my hardest to be a good friend and value those around me.

Your death encouraged me to fiercely pursue music. The last time we were together you were teaching me the guitar so I vowed to continue on that path. I went on to write many songs about you and how you changed my life.

Your death increased my desire to take care of others and lead me to care for the sick and dying as a nurse. It gave me the courage to hold the hand of someone passing into the afterlife. It gave me the strength to support their family in such a trying time because I knew what it felt like to lose a loved one.

Your death put my faith to the test, but it ultimately strengthened my relationship with God. In the months following, I was so angry that He took you from me too soon. Yet, over the years I began to realize that we each have a purpose, and I guess you had already completed yours in a short time.

Your death made me create closer bonds to the people in my life. I learned that no one lives forever and tomorrow may never come. I learned to love hard in all relationships. I learned to move forward in life with an open heart and to accept people for who they are.

I learned that although being a good person doesn’t make you invincible, it does make you memorable. Not only were you incredibly good at everything you did, but you always had a smile on your face…a smile that was contagious and unforgettable.

Your death taught me to be the light that this world so desperately needs. It taught me to count my blessings instead of my shortcomings. It taught me to give back to others and expect nothing in return. It encouraged me to carry on your legacy of making the world a better place.

So while you were taken from this world 12 years ago, your legacy remains alive and well. On this day each year, I hear stories and see posts about you. Even after all this time we still miss you, we still think about you, and we still remember the beautiful person you were.

While this day never gets easier, it does continue to enlighten me. Each year I’m amazed at the discovery of another emotion, another layer of my feelings towards your death. I’m amazed by the fact that time continues to pass so quickly. I guess the process of healing is truly never ending.

I’ll never fully understand why you had to leave us, and although I can’t comprehend your passing, I’ll forever cherish your life. I’ll cherish all of the many wonderful memories we made and the best friend I was fortunate to have, if only for 14 years.

I know there will still be days ahead full of sadness, tears and pain because true heartache never fully goes away. However, I want to say “thank you” for inspiring me to be the person I am today. Your death gave me life. Keep watching over me my guardian angel…until we meet again.

 

XOXO,
Myka Shantell 💋

 

 

*RIP – Jacob Aaron Skinner
(September 21, 1990 – July 25, 2005)

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5 Traits An Anxious Mind Needs In A Friend.

“Being able to feel safe with other people is probably the single most important aspect of mental health; safe connections are fundamental to meaningful and satisfying lives.” – Bessel Van Der Kolk
If you’ve ever been a good friend to someone that suffers from anxiety, you probably know that it’s a lot of work. You have to deal with their constant mood swings, fears, emotions and insecurities all while being their rock. It really is a tough gig.

There are probably an enormous amount of times that you want to scream, pull out your hair and simply tell your friend that they’re being irrational. You may get insanely frustrated that they can’t just shut off their anxiety. Yet, you often sit there quietly and listen to every word.

Sometimes you give them words of encouragement while holding them in a tight knit hug, merely letting them know that they’re safe. Other times you may yell and give them tough love because you don’t fully understand their disease which frustrates you even more.

You may sit and cry together in silence when the world just seems too overwhelming for your anxious minded friend. You cry because you’ve never dealt with such pain and aren’t sure what to do or say. Sometimes you may even cry tears of joy when they’re having a good day because you’re ecstatic to see them happy.

Despite all of the craziness that comes along with loving an anxious mind, you stick around, and your mere presence means more to us than you could ever know.

While being a friend to someone that struggles with anxiety can be quite overwhelming, I imagine it’s a love-hate relationship. There are a ton of positives and negatives that come along with loving us, things that we rarely control.

However, I hope you know that if an anxious mind chooses you as a friend you should take it as an extreme compliment. We are extremely selective in who we allow into our lives. Our anxiety tries to isolate us from everyone and tell us that we are unworthy of love.

If you are chosen to become a part of our inner circle, know that it is a big decision for us. It takes everything in our being to truly let people in and see the real, flawed, messy us…the sides we often hide.

We have to silence the constant ruckus going on in our heads in order to focus on another person. We not only have to learn to let our walls down, but we also have to stand up to our anxiety and tell it that we refuse to be alone. That, my dear, is no small feat.

So while your friendship means the world to us, know that there were certain traits we found in you that let us tear our walls down and silence our anxious minds. There was something we saw in you that made us feel safe and willing to open ourselves up with the risk of being hurt.

There are a few things that we saw in you, a few things that the friend of an anxious mind must possess:

1.) Trustworthy

We need to know that no matter what we can trust you with our deepest, darkest secrets. We need to feel like we can trust you with our feelings and that you will never do us wrong. Trust is crucial in any relationship, but we value it more than most.

2.) Patience

We know we’re not the easiest people to be friends with. We have so many mood swings and “irrational fears” that many people don’t understand. When we’re having an anxiety attack, you won’t be able to relate to us. Yet we need to know that you will be patient with us as we work through things.

3.) Loyalty

As our friend, it’s imperative that we know you’re loyal to us. Insecurities go hand-in-hand with anxiety, and a disloyal friend makes our insecurities unbearable. Constantly worrying about where you stand will only make our anxiety worse and ultimately end our friendship.

4.) Understanding

We need you to understand that we aren’t making things up. What we are telling you is really how we feel, even when you can’t relate. While you may have never dealt with anxiety in your personal life, we need you to understand that everything we feel and say is very real to us.

5.) Strength

Lastly, we need you to be a strong person. We understand that everyone has moments in life where they get broken down. However, we need you to be our rock. Many times in our anxiety filled lives we need someone to be strong for us. We need someone that can help us through the really dark times and tell us that everything will be okay.
While each person has something different they look for in a friendship or relationship, these tend to be at the top of our list. It may take us a while to let you in, but once we do you’ll be happy you stuck around.

Although we seem to have a lot of baggage that comes along with us, we are the most loyal people you will ever meet. A friend with anxiety may take a while to warm up to you, but once they do you’ll see the amazing soul they possess.

While anxiety is a part of us, it’s not all of us. We still have so many traits that you’ll fall in love with like being extremely clean, always on time and super organized (to name a few). You’ll start to realize not to judge a book by its cover and that life with anxiety doesn’t mean you can’t be happy.

I must say although my circle is extremely small, I wouldn’t trade them for the world. They’ve seen me experience my highest highs and my lowest lows, and they’ve loved me through them all. They each possess the 5 qualities I listed above and so much more.

So if you befriend an anxious mind just be ready to commit for the long hall, because once we let you in there’s no turning back…

 

XOXO,
Myka Shantell 💋

 

 

The Unfortunate Ones.

“It’s time to distance yourself from the people who let you down, the inconsistent ones. it’s time to start loving yourself.” – Billy Chapata

 
I hate to tell you this, but you are the unfortunate ones. If you play any part in my life, I must apologize in advance. I apologize for the person you will be dealing with, the person who has changed so much over the last few years.

I apologize because you will no longer see the weak and innocent soul that once consumed this body, the girl who would do anything for anyone without a second thought.

Now, I’m not saying this generosity has been permanently removed from my DNA. I’m merely no longer naive to the ulterior motives that now seem to drive the human race. I no longer turn a blind eye to the harshness and cruelty in the world.

There was a point in my life where I would turn away from things that broke my soul…child abuse, animal torture, violence, broken hearts, etc. Yet, I discovered that those terrible things happen whether I like it or not.

Leaning to accept this uncomfortable fact allowed me to accept many things about myself as well. I learned to stop making excuses for people who hurt me time and time again. I learned to cut people out of my life that wanted to use me for what I had to offer.

Ultimately, I learned to accept the fact that the world is a cruel place filled with a human population that is overrun with sin, abuse, manipulation and negativity. I hated giving in to this reality, but as I looked back on my life I realized it too was full of unpleasant moments and memories.

Upon this realization I decided to make multiple changes in my life. I started cutting out those who had done me wrong (on numerous occasions). I started separating myself from things that didn’t bring me joy or positivity. I ran from people and things that caused me heartache.

Now, I am by no means a perfect person (I’m far from it to be honest), but I try to live a positive life by being the best person I can be. I pride myself on being a Nurse and Humanitarian, giving back to those who need it most. I try my hardest to make a positive impact in the world.

Yet, I’ve found too often that many people seem to only be looking out for themselves. Their selfish nature not only feeds their ego, but it causes them to hurt others emotionally, mentally and sometimes physically.

I’m grateful to have never experienced the latter, but mental and emotional trauma can sometimes be just as damaging.

Going back to the beginning, I must say “sorry” to everyone in my life. Unfortunately from now on you will have the realistic me, the one who doesn’t fantasize about fairytale happy endings and white picket fences.

You no longer have the girl who is willing to give and give and give with nothing in return, to be trampled on without saying a word. There is no longer a quiet soul who finds an excuse for every bad thing that happens in life. Screw that.

There will always be good and bad people in this world. There will always be heartbreak, cruelty, disappointments and sadness. I’m completely aware of this. However, in this day and age we are able to decide what kind of life we want to live.

We are in control of our own destinies, living in a world full of endless possibility. We have the freedom to move to a new city, start a new job, create our own company and include people who truly matter to us in our lives. We are no longer pinned down by our pasts or backgrounds.

In 2017, we are able to be whoever we want to be, to create a fulfilling life full of love and happiness. We are able to choose our friends, our spouse and ultimately our futures. Unfortunately, so many people will never take advantage of this fact.

I, however, will take full advantage of my choices from now on. I will be extremely selective about who is allowed in my inner circle. I will keep the thick walls up around my heart until I find the right one who is willing to patiently break them down.

I will look for people who have similar goals and aspirations, who long to make the world a better place. I will cut people out of my life without remorse if they continue to do me wrong. I’m not playing games anymore, and neither should you.

This world is full of people (7,500,000,000 to be exact) so why let a mere few take away your joy? Why let one pesky person bring you down? If someone doesn’t love you for who you are then let them go. If someone can’t understand or accept your anxiety or issues then say goodbye.

Gone are the days of compromising ourselves for those who don’t care and the times of giving ourselves to others who won’t do the same in return. We all deserve love, understanding, happiness and a fulfilling life so why let others hold us back from that?

So again, I say “sorry” to the unfortunate ones, the ones who have recently come into my life or those who have stuck by me since day one. My core values remain unchanged, but my mind has a whole new outlook.

There is heartache from the past, but the future seems so bright. I’ll no longer simply allow things to happen to me. I understand that we cannot predict the future, but I’ll now control the impact I allow those events to have in my life…and I hope you’ll do the same.

 

XOXO,
Myka Shantell 💋

6 Things You Learn Growing Up In A Small Town.

“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.


3.)
CREATIVITY

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.

5.) COMMUNITY

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.


6.)
PRIDE

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.

 

XOXO,

Myka Shantell 💋