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Thu Oct 07, 2010 11:53 am

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I grew up in a small Ontario town, which had approximately 7000 very bored people. I had some good times there, and some horrible times. Living in a small town is 180° from living in a city. There are certain rules that you have to follow or else there will be town meetings about it.
Rule #1: Don’t move to a small town if you want to get to know different types of people.
I went to a public school where I could to walk every day. There were approximately 400 kids at my school. From kindergarten to Grade 3, all the girls were friends with each other, it was one big happy family; everyone belonged. Once Grade 4 began, we were introduced to cliques and groups. There were the popular girls and then there were the girls who were known as the “nerds” and “losers.” I wasn’t one of the cool girls at school, but I managed. I didn’t want to be a fake person that was judgmental of others and only worried about my looks. I had my circle of friends I hung out with; I was with the group just below the bimbos, if you will. You’re always around the same people. You’re in the same classes and the same extracurricular activities, there is no escaping.
Rule #2: Make sure your family secrets are well-hidden.
Living in such a small town, everyone knew what kind of family you came from, where you lived, and the other members of your family. With this information, you were quickly slotted into your appropriate group. You knew everyone personally or by reputation. If one member has any sort of bad reputation, you are also labeled as an evil person. You have to live with your family’s reputation whether you like it or not.
Rule #3: Don’t move to a small town if you’re claustrophobic.
Your life is both sheltered and exposed. You aren’t aware of what really goes on in the world; you can leave your car and house unlocked. You wouldn’t even think of doing that in a city. Your entire life was open to public discussion and you are on first name-basis with everyone. Everyone knows your business; it is gossip central! There is no escaping for anyone. You usually have to travel a few hours to get to a big, urban centre for entertainment. There are usually no malls, movies in the theatres always come late and there are no good hangout spots for the teenagers.
Rule #4: Don’t try to be a trendsetter; you’ll be labelled as a freak.
There are the couple of teenagers who try to rebel and bring the big-city look to their town. They dress in black, guys wear their little sister’s jeans, and they wear nail polish and eyeliner. They try to become trend setters; they try to get rid of the lumberjack look. Plaid will always be in style. If you’re walking down the main street and an emo kid is heading toward you, you unconsciously move across the street. You’re scared of them, and you’re worried about what they may do. They don’t even have names anymore, they are simply known as “the emo.”
Rule #5: Just because it’s small doesn’t mean it has a small heart.
There are usually a lot of kids. Growing up in the suburbs, we’d always be out during the day – biking on the streets, dogs running around, and an ice-cream cart often drove down our street. The only rule was to go home when the street lights came on. I love living in a small town. I wouldn’t do well in Toronto. I’d be too welcoming, too naïve, too loud. I like the clean air we breathe and I like living close to relatives. I like how we’re always one step behind the “big crazes.” Living in a small town is welcoming and you get to know more people with the same interest, most people hate growing up in a small town, but I wouldn’t trade it for a big city where no one knows my name.

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