“So, I guess we are who we are for a lot of reasons. And maybe we’ll never know most of them. But even if we don’t have the power to choose where we come from, we can still choose where we go from there. We can still do things. And we can try to feel okay about them.”
—The Perks of Being a Wallflower, Stephen Chbosky
They told me to get out of this small town. They told me that when the time came to speed off down those backroads to the highway, that I shouldn’t lift my foot off the gas pedal, that I should ignore the red lights and speed limits. They told me to ignore the rearview mirror, to ignore the tugging of strings attaching me to the suburb I called home.
They told me that I should search for something bigger— bigger than the local shops and familiar street names, the well-worn backroads and same old neighbors. They said that there was so much more to the world than my suburban block.
So I sought out bright city lights and expansive sidewalks, towering skyscrapers and bustling pedestrians. I went in search of possibility and unpredictability. I dove into a new environment with all the fear in the world harbored inside of me to see what I had been missing for so long.
And I loved it. Everything about it: the changing lights of the Empire State, the overpriced coffee, the stance of the Brooklyn Bridge, the green of Central Park, the sirens that lull you to sleep, the running to catch a cab or a train. I thought that this was it, that this concrete jungle was where I was meant to be.
But there is something comforting about weaving along those well-worn backroads to come home time and time again. And now my heartstrings are tangled up with the nitty gritty of nostalgia and familiarity.
Sometimes I wonder if I’ve put myself into a cage, if going back to a big city is possible, if small town life is a trap I’ll never escape. And then there are times when I realize that that could be okay, because I always have the power of choice. Because, for what it’s worth, I am in control of my destiny, I’m the one who calls the shots and takes the next steps. And while I’m sincerely grateful of where I come from, I’m still unsure of where I’m meant to be. But whenever the time comes, I’ll have the power to choose.