I love my rural home but it has not always been that way. Like many people who grow up in a small town, I too had the itch to leave and see what else the world had to offer.
I left North Dakota over six years ago on a whim. It was one of the hardest choices I have ever made but also the most influential. As a recent college grad I had no idea what I wanted next in life. The only thing I did know was that I wanted something different. I can’t say that I went very far, as I ended up living in Idaho and Montana. Although it was just a few states over, the landscape was so different! I fell in love with the mountains and the mountain lifestyle. I met people from all walks of life who will forever have an impact on me.
Over the years, I also began traveling. Every year my closest friend, Jill and I would venture off to see a new country and explore a new territory. Each year our trips would become a little more grand, and before officially moving back to North Dakota I took the long route home spending two months in Indonesia, China, and parts of eastern Europe.
Through the years of moving around and traveling, I expanded my horizon and changed my perspective on the world.
I learned to really appreciate the differences in people and various cultures. Growing up in a small town of 300 people makes the world seem large and intimidating, however it is our differences that makes us unique!
I was so humbled by the people I met throughout my travels, who opened their hearts to someone who was also different. People not only opened their hearts but also their homes to us. They welcomed my friend and I into their space and helped us when we were lost. Trust me, that happens a lot! Though the economics are much different from country to country, we are not. I remember a girl we met in China who was seated next to us on a bus tour because she was the only one who spoke a little bit of English and could understand us. She told us that the language barrier was OK and that the real universal language is a smile. A simple expression is all that is needed sometimes to acknowledge each other and to show appreciation (sometimes it is even better than words that are easily manipulated and abused). At the foundation we are all human and we are capable of many things, but what is life without love or without a simple smile?
Through my travels I have learned to see the world through a different lens and open my heart up to new ideas and circumstances. Traveling also helped me form a closer bond to the place that I left long ago.
My hometown has always been my home because it is the foundation of who I am, but I had to step away from it to learn to love it. I learned that the grass is not always greener elsewhere and that “home” is a choice you make. You could choose to love or hate the place you are in, but when you open yourself up to loving it, that is when you begin to appreciate and see all it has to offer. In a roundabout way, I made the choice to call my rural town home again. My appreciation for my home has grown because I stepped outside my comfort zone. I opened my heart up to this incredibly unique world we live in, and in the meantime, I learned to appreciate what I have always had in my life.