Adjusting to small town USA?

posted 3 years ago in Career
Post # 3
Member
419 posts
Helper bee
  • Wedding: November 1999

I moved from the Midwest to Atlanta, and now to being even further Southeast. It’s been 2 years and it still feels like I’m an outsider. I talk to other outsiders and they’ve been around for 10 or more years and never feel like they fit in. It’s kind of demotivating. I don’t really have any advice. Just wanted to say I understand and it is real.

Post # 5
Member
577 posts
Busy bee
  • Wedding: April 2012

I grew up in suburbia but lived in a very small town (pop. ~2000) for a few years after college.  I felt like outsiders were welcomed there, but only if they became very involved in the community and actively made an effort to get to know everyone. I did the best I could, and after awhile I felt like I sort of fit in. I’m also an introvert by nature so I wasn’t extremely involved and a lot of people didn’t understand that. 

The worst thing was the lack of privacy. If one person in town knew something about you, the whole town knew. I tried to keep my business to myself for that reason, because it was incredibly annoying to have people ask me about personal things that they had no business knowning. On the other hand, in such a small place with limited people to talk to, gossip is kind of what makes the town go ’round.

Do you live in the new town, or are you just commuting there for work? If you’re commuting, you’ll probably be seen as an outsider. It will help if you try to get involved by going to community events outside of work.

Post # 6
Member
3280 posts
Sugar bee
  • Wedding: June 2014

FI & I both grew up in a small town of 500 people and just bought a house here. For us it’s just normal and could never imagine anything else. I went to University of Illinois which has 40k+ students and it made me realize I definitelyy could never live in a big city. In most small towns, ours at least, everyone knows everyone’s business and you really don’t have any privacy. Introduce yourself to the neighbors, hang out in the town and get to know people, it will go a long way! Good luck!

Post # 7
Member
1768 posts
Buzzing bee
  • Wedding: June 2014

I grew up in a small town (my county had four school districts, each with an elementary, middle, and high school). I went to the second largest HS in the county and we only had 400 students. All I’m saying is my parents moved to the area when I was 2, and still live there, and they’re still considered “out of towners” and new people. It takes a loooonnngggg time to be “one of them”…like generations worth of time. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, ha!

Post # 9
Member
577 posts
Busy bee
  • Wedding: April 2012

@AmeliaBedelia:  Something else I just remembered is that because the town was so small, everyone was friends with their coworkers and socialized with each other a lot outside of work. I didn’t do it as much because I didn’t want to spend time with the same people ALL the time. I find it kind of awkward to be best friends with your boss, but it happened a lot. It made work uncomfortable sometimes because my coworkers would talk about what they did together over the weekend and I felt left out. And sometimes personal relationships got in the way of office conflicts. I don’t really know a good way to deal with it though.

Post # 11
Member
3442 posts
Sugar bee
  • Wedding: July 2013

@AmeliaBedelia:  I’m from small town USA. The town I grew up in had about 2,000 residents if you don’t count the exceptionally small liberal arts college (I still go to college in my home town). My graduating class was about 100 students, & that was considered somewhat large for our school.

To me, when I transfered schools for 2 years to a city in Florida & then to Israel, it was sooo difficult to adjust to huge crowds, and also to the different value system at these high schools (like, there was none, at least not behaviorally for the student, as they just run amok). It terrified me. I was so happy when I went back home & felt that sense of love & security that small towns offer.

I’m also an introvert like you, so I can see why teaching at a very small school might scare you or make you uncomfortable due to all the “small talk” and “hellos” you feel expected to exchange since you will eventually know everybody. But honestly, I don’t do small talk & I just said hi & went on my way. I definitely think you will adjust, & you will also notice that the level of respect and values is probably higher in this small town & school system, so try to enjoy that.

You’ll get used to it I think 🙂

Post # 13
Member
3442 posts
Sugar bee
  • Wedding: July 2013

@AmeliaBedelia:  I’m glad I could help put you at ease a little!

I read your other comments about how the majority of teachers & staff mostly got their jobs from knowing the right people & being from around the area. Well, at least at my school, those teachers were the favorites among the sports/preppy group, because most of those kids’ parents were friends with those teachers too (grew up together, maybe both had last names in the town that carried weight etc..) but the intellectual & interesting kids (I liked to think I was one, but who really knows lol) actually preferred the “outsider” teachers, because they were more genuine & less “clicky” with the popular kids.

I bet the really awesome kids will gravitate toward you 🙂 

ETA: I read someone say that small towns take a long time to be a “regular/townie” in, but this isn’t always true. My dad was one of the “good ole’ boys” in town that everybody knew within 3 years of us living there (we moved from a small town in Florida). I’m just saying, it’s different for everybody & don’t worry too much.

Post # 15
Member
402 posts
Helper bee
  • Wedding: May 2013

I think our definition of small town might be different… my hometown (graduating class of 80) was a “big town” because we had a Walmart. In the town over there was only one school for k-12 and it had 50 kids total. THATs a small town lol.

But to answer your question, most people in little towns are very routine oriented. Pick an activity and see if you can tag along with someone… Sewing/book club, church group, or even just a regular dinner with friends. If you get along with everybody they will expect you to come back every week until you die 😛

Post # 16
Member
1926 posts
Buzzing bee
  • Wedding: July 2012

@AmeliaBedelia:  Haha… my HS was the only one for the entire county so I kind of know what you are going into! Don’t worry, you are going to fit in soon! The thing you might have a challenge with (and this depends on a lot of things and what part of the country you are in) is that our school was less formal than most. For instance a lot of us where all related and some to our teachers as well, so there was a lot of calling teachers by there first names. 

Its strange, but its also kind of awesome in its own right. 

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