Living in a small town is the new “big thing”. Some say it’s for the safety that a small community provides while others say it’s for the relationships. My personal experience says that it’s so much more. Living in Hamilton, MO has taught me lessons that I couldn’t have learned anywhere else.
1. Stopping to say “hi” is worth your time.
Coming from a big city, it wasn’t very often that I would talk to complete strangers. Even less likely were the moments I would pause in my day to day activities in order to strike up a conversation with them! Since living in Hamilton though, I’ve learned that it really is worth it to do so. I’m not going to tell you that I’ve made life-long friendships, because I haven’t, but I have learned a lot about my place in the world.
Grandparents will tell me a story of how they raised their kids. Or young couples will give advice on what to avoid when having “kid number three”. I’ve seen faces light up at the rare gift of having someone stop to say hi. We’ve wrapped ourselves into our own little world, but I think by doing so we’ve cut ourselves off from some of the most beautiful experiences life has to offer.
2. A smile goes a long way
When you live in a small town, you have the same teller ring in your deposits each week. You have the same garbage man come by every Friday. The same sweet lady drops off your mail and the same friendly police chief drives by your block at nearly the same time every. single. day. And while this seemed like a lot of pressure when I first moved to the town (have to make a good impression or your stay will be miserable!), it’s actually been really refreshing.
Unlike in a large town where your first impression is your ONLY impression, in a small town your first impression is just one of many.
And I’ve found that the more you smile, the more people are willing to overlook the fact that your kid has pulled half your hair out of its bun. . . Or that toys are scattered around the yard and your haven’t had time to pick them up.
3. Take pride in what you do
In a larger town, if you do shoddy work on one job, no one has to know. If you do a bad job in Hamilton, EVERYONE knows within the day! There was a kid in town that was hired to do a small construction job on a home in town. It was a job that should have taken a couple hours and it ended up taking the kid three days to do. After that, he couldn’t get a job to save his life.
This may sound like the town expects you to be perfect. Sometimes it feels that way, but I’ve found that really people just want to know that you take pride in what you do. They want to know that you care about them, and that since you care, you’re going to do your best.
4. YOU matter
In a larger city, sometimes it’s easy to get lost in the hustle and bustle around you. One of Hamilton’s many charms is that you are never just “one of many”. The mail man (lady) knows your name and asks how your baby is doing. The shopkeeper up the street notices if you aren’t out walking at your usual time.
The baker down the road misses you when you don’t show up for your normal afternoon pick-me-up piece of pie.
YOU MATTER. Without everyone in it, a town the size of Hamilton would cease to function. We are all important. That’s something I am going to take with me wherever I go. We get told it all the time, but I’d never felt it so keenly as I have since moving here.
From what I’ve seen, you learn the same lessons from a small town that you would anywhere else in the world.
The only difference is that you learn those lessons ten times faster in a town the size of your thumb.
People are the same no matter where you go, and we all want a hug, a smile, and a howdy-do. But it’s a lot easier to learn about what people want and need when you’re crammed into a tiny amount of space with no where to go.