Your Small Town Mentality WILL Kill You.
Your small town mentality will kill you. I mean it. It can and will kill your growth, your dreams, and your potential for success. Stop hanging with average and settling for mediocrity.
Over the past year I’ve really taken a step back from arguing with people online, mainly because I realized not everything needs a reaction. If other people’s words control your emotions, they can control you and the way you think. I mention this because this is one thing that I will defend until I die. I’m open to discussion on everything I post, but I specifically want this one to be talked about, because it is crucial to your grown and development or lack thereof. If anything I write from this point down upsets you, frustrates you, or stings, take a good look in the mirror and ask: Is this me?
Take it from someone who has seen it happen. Not just seen it happen, but someone who has lived it. I grew up in a small town. Manheim, Pennsylvania has a population of about 4900 people (census 2010). A large percentage of the people I grew up with have parents and grandparents who also grew up in Manheim. While my parents are not originally from Manheim, they both grew up within 15 minutes of. Manheim is a great town, but not many people leave. They’re comfortable.
Comfort is not your friend. I’m a firm believer that you should do one thing each day that scares you. Challenge yourself – and those around you – to step outside of your comfort zone, because that’s where life begins. I’m not sure what it was, but when I was about 14 years old I told myself I was getting out as soon as I could. Everyone around me said “Yeah, okay. Whatever.” That was the common reaction because there are a lot of people who said they were going to leave, stayed, saying “next year I’ll move”, started a family, and got stuck. In life, there are talkers, and then there are doers. The opportunity that exists outside of five square miles is infinite.
Now in no way am I trying to say that you have to leave, or that it’s impossible to be content or happy in your hometown. I know plenty of happy, successful people who never even left for college. Everyone has different goals and dreams, and if you can achieve yours without traveling far and wide, congratulations. Some of us crave something more, something that may not be available at home, or maybe not available to the scale that we want it.
It’s easy to get caught up in the small town lifestyle when that’s all you know. You and your friends work all week, every week, go to the same bar on the weekends, bitch and moan about your jobs, but Monday morning you’ll punch that clock and the cycle continues. Maybe I’m wrong. Maybe it’s just a blue collar thing? Regardless, I was taught from a young age, if you’re not willing to take the steps to change something you don’t like, you don’t have room to complain about it. We humans are lazy. We’re wired to take the path of least resistance. Be proactive and respectfully distance yourself from stagnant or negative people, change your routine, set goals, achieve them, and then raise the bar. The top doesn’t actually exist; it’s just that sometimes we tend to limit ourselves because we’d rather be comfortable.
Bigger picture. Too many people have the blinders on and they can’t see anything that’s not right in front of their faces. I’ve spent the better part of the last six years traveling across the state, spending time in various little towns, meeting a lot of different people, all from contrasting backgrounds, but one thing is standard across the board: many of them are oblivious to what the world has to offer. I wish I could count the amount of times I’ve been talking about a car I want to buy in the future, or a garage that I want to build, and the person I’m talking to says “I could never afford that” or “I wish I could hit the lottery.” Before they even try, they’re limiting their potential for achieving such goals because they seem too far out of reach; unattainable. It’s not about the money or the material possessions. That’s not what it’s about to me. It’s about the journey and the struggle, and rewarding my hard work. It gives me a motive for working as hard as I do. It’s about building the dream.
It pains me to talk to people with dreams and aspirations that downplay them because the opportunity won’t present itself where they currently reside.
Pick up everything, and move.
“But I can’t. (Insert generic excuse here).”
Bullshit. You don’t want it bad enough. You’re scared.
“But Bailey, I have a good job here, my family is here, I have student loans, I have a car payment, the cost of living… Etc.”
I’m still hearing excuses.
I had a great job when I was living at home. My family was there. I had a car payment. I was blessed to be able to work my ass off through college and graduate with very little debt that I quickly repaid. My point is nothing else above stopped me from getting up every morning with a purpose. Everything in this life is temporary. The only true constant is change. I woke up with the purpose of being a better version of myself than I was the day before. I learned as much as I could, worked a ton of overtime, and made financially sound decisions for months. I sacrificed vacations, my social life, modifying the car I had, and passed on buying a street car, all with the intention of purchasing a home out of the area, because I wanted to prove to myself, my family, and everyone that said “Yeah, okay. Whatever.” when I was 14 that I could and would go somewhere else where I saw more opportunity. I signed the paperwork on the house just 3 weeks after my 20th birthday, just 3 months after walking across the stage at my college graduation.
I purchased manufacturing equipment with the intention of working for a few years for someone else, taking what I learned and implementing it in my own business. I ended up turning around and selling the equipment I purchased – at a huge profit – and then used that money to start this business, Horsepower & Pizza. Switch up. Adapt. Change is always going to be relevant; in this case it was a change of my own mind and interests.
I don’t want to sound boastful about any of this, but I’m also sick of hearing how Millennials aren’t able to do things like our parents did at our age like purchasing real estate and putting extra money in the bank. If you want to do something, you’ll find a way. Anyway, I took a few calculated risks, and a few of them paid dividends. You won’t always win, though. I’ve been punched in the mouth, and humbled plenty of times; but I never stopped believing in myself. When you’re down, you have to be able to pick yourself up, remind yourself that you’re the shit, and that nobody is going to do it for you. You have to be willing to gamble, but you don’t gamble with money you’re not prepared to lose. Sometimes you have to play to win, instead of just playing defensively as to not lose. There’s a flipside to it, too. The grass isn’t always greener. I very easily could have moved to Pittsburgh and realized the opportunities I thought were here for me were not as good as the ones back home.
It’s funny how it works, really because I’ve found more support 3.5 hours from home, than I ever did in Manheim. Sometimes anonymity is a beautiful thing, as I can bounce ideas off of people who don’t know me, or at least don’t know me very well, and they won’t hold me or my thoughts to a certain standard because they don’t know what I’m truly capable of. My tight-knit friend group from back home will always be the shit, though. We’re all over the country now. Sometimes people with a similar background to you tend to root for your downfall when they feel threatened by the moves you make. Jealousy. Not all the time, but it does happen. And while I can’t speak for everyone, my friends who have left home, be it for college, the military, or just for a change in scenery, seem to be enjoying life on another level. All because they stopped caring what other’s thought and took a step out of their comfort zone.
I’m only 23. In the grand scheme of things, I don’t know shit about life, but does anybody really? I’m telling my story in hopes of motivating someone reading this. If it helps one person get unstuck, it’s worth it to me to put it all out in the open. I understand everyone has a different story, different battles, and different demons. I understand sometimes circumstances can hold you back: a sick family member, a sudden loss, an unexpected addition to the family. Don’t let them be the period on your story. Use it as motivation to put your head down and, as Sean Whalen puts it, make shit happen. I’m in no way trying to tell you that it’s simple, but instead proving to you that it is in fact possible.
Don’t let anyone try to convince you that you can’t do something, simply because they won’t do something. You don’t need that kind of negativity in your life. Walk away from anyone and anything that isn’t helping you grow. Actively chase your dreams. Keep your head down; keep your mouth shut, and Build It For You.
Photo taken from the Manheim Chamber Facebook page: @manheimchamber
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