Growing up, especially getting through high school, I was one of those kids that made the saying, "It takes a village to raise a child," true. I wasn't a bad kid. In fact, I was an overachieving, over-involved, kind to everyone kid. But I became who I am today because of the people that I surrounded myself with. I never fit in with other teenagers, but was content to do my own thing regardless of whether it was cool or not. One of those things was being involved with our economic development office and a group called HTC. Yesterday, I returned to my hometown to speak to Governor Brownback about the success of Hometown Competitiveness (HTC) and Kansas Hometown Prosperity (KHP) that has worked well in my community, a concept I helped to implement and nurture throughout high school and beyond. It was amazing and encouraging to me to be welcomed back home in such a loving manner. While part of the concept is to embrace youth returning to rural communities to build their careers and families, the fact that members of my town hadn't forgetten me, meant everything. I even had one of my high school teacher's approach me afterwards just to tell me how proud she was of how much I've accomplished. If that doesn't sound like a village raising a child I don't know what does.
Over the past month, I've felt like I was losing momentum and confidence in myself at my new job, even though my awesome boyfriend and his family keep telling me otherwise, so my little trip home was rejuvenating. The encouragement and belief that I will do great things where I'm at now, from my hometown "family" was a nice breath of fresh air and confidence. I realized as I spoke to the Governor I had made things happen but it wasn't on my own and in my new home I don't have to work alone either.
I know that the people in my new community are equally amazing because it's a western Kansas thing to be kind and caring, I'm just new still and it's hard to accept new sometimes I think. That's the other thing western Kansans are is stubborn and often adverse to change. It's hard to know if I'm making an impact and accomplishing much at all when I see so many things I want to do and I don't know enough people to make that change. I pray it will get easier over time because as much of an emotional connection as I have to my wonderful hometown, it's almost time to let go. It's like a relationship, you can't move on and fall in love with someone else, while you still hold on to parts of your last relationship. Or in this case can I? I think that it is a hard concept for me to grasp because I am who I am thanks to my hometown. I feel like if I let go of my hometown and fall in love with my new community, I'll lose something that makes me, me. Yet I want to fall in love with this town as much as the other because the man I love loves it here and I love that. Finally someone who gets my love of small towns. I grew up in one of the best rural towns in America and now my goal is to make my current community second best so my children will someday be able to call this little community on the prairie, home.
Thanks for reading along as I gushed about small towns. If you haven't been to one, hop on a plane or train and visit me. They're the best with their space and beauty and security. Happy weekend!