In this episode of In The Know: Walks of Life, a 19-year-old man reflects on the changes he’s undergone since leaving his small-town Montana hometown for college in Southern California. Now back in Montana for the summer after his freshman year, he contemplates the people who have stayed there and how it feels to have left.
The subject shares that throughout his life in rural Montana, he never really clicked with anybody, but immediately met great friends in college who even decorated a whole dorm for his birthday one month into the semester. “It was the best birthday I’d ever had,” he remarks. “I couldn’t believe I’d gotten so close with so many people so quickly.”
Now he’s thinking about those friends at college compared to the ones he’s had in his hometown—particularly the ones that have stayed in Montana. “It’s such a different environment here. I hate to say it but it’s kind of sad,” he says.
But he’s quick to sympathize with those who want to leave Montana, but can’t or don’t. He notes that even for himself, leaving for college was very challenging. But once he did, he had no regrets.
“It’s so hard to leave behind something so familiar,” he says. “I was an important person in my community. People knew who I was, and I was leaving to go to a school I couldn’t even afford to visit before I committed. So I’d never been. [I was] just planning on uprooting my life and going to where I knew nobody. I didn’t know anyone in Southern California. But once I got on the plane, actually left, and came in and was landing in sunny Southern California, all those fears went away and almost all of it was a very pleasant experience.”
Having now lived in both rural Montana and Southern California, the subject shares some of the differences he’s noticed between the environments, as well as some of the similarities.
Political correctness is one big difference between the two places. “Some of the conversations that are had just casually in Montana would set somebody off [in California] probably,” he shares. “I can’t imagine some of the reactions some of my friends would have to some of the things said. And California doesn’t have it perfected [either], that’s for sure.”
But one big similarity he sees across the board is that people are good at speaking out about what they believe in, while not so good at listening to differing opinions. “When you disagree with someone, it’s really important to listen because it’s gonna teach you something,” he notes. “Maybe the only thing I learn is where the gaps are in communicating facts, or I could learn where the mistrust is…That’s valuable to have that information.”
The experience of saying his thoughts out loud to himself has only reinforced his belief that listening is just as important as being vocal about one’s opinions. “Creating a space for people to share any of their thoughts without judgment is a great idea,” he remarks. “If people get the opportunity to share how they feel, we’re gonna learn so much more, and they won’t feel like they have to hide that.”
“In The Know: Walks of Life” is available on all major podcast platforms, including Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Amazon Music, and Stitcher.
The post This 19-year-old finds peace and nostalgia in his small Montana hometown appeared first on In The Know.
More from In The Know: