It is always disturbing when I hear people talk so badly about my hometown of Goldsboro, NC. Now, don’t get me wrong, I hated this town for a good while, too. It is boring. It is really boring. Upon moving to Raleigh, I thought that I was finally freeing myself of the lack of opportunities that Goldsboro had to offer me. The margin of error that I had on reality, however, is strong. Everything that I once hated so badly is in fact what I love more than anybody will ever realize.
I hated the town. I felt like I deserved better than to live somewhere so small and unimportant. Before moving to NC, I lived in Florida. We had endless kisses from the sun and Disney right down the road. Goldsboro has, well, a movie theatre? Oh, and we have the smell of cow crap. That’s something to brag about, right? It was a tough transition. What I didn’t realize was that I was extremely blessed and lucky to have had community theatre in my life growing up. I learned how to express myself more openly, to become a true team member, meet various groups of amazing individuals, and how to become the young adult I was meant to be through the supportive and loving atmosphere that the stage had to offer me. I haven’t been able to find that here in Raleigh, and yet I still experience the same feeling I had growing up each and every single time I go home. By living in such a small community, I learned that inner beauty will always be stronger than outer beauty. If I still lived in Florida, I know that I would be completely different than who I am now. I would be a tad more self-centered and worried about my body type. I would feel the need to have guys to hang out with and flirt with. I would probably be clubbing at the moment or maybe even going to parties with girls with bleach blonde hair and halter top shirts that reveal more belly than not. I would be one of those girls that have a default picture of practically nothing but skin, bikini, and the ocean blue. I’m not bashing on the stereotypical Florida lifestyle, but that isn’t North Carolina. That isn’t home: Goldsboro is. In Goldsboro, it’s okay to be a bit on the heavy side. Heck, we are in the south. It’s normal. And our definition of having fun on a weeknight is hanging out at Starbucks with a couple of friends or playing trivia at the local pub downtown – with a soda, of course. Life is more simple and old-fashioned here, and it is beautiful.
I hated the people. With such a small community, people are bound to get on your nerves sooner or later. Even my best friends got on my nerves. And I think that is normal for any person. I felt territorial over the things that I was involved in, whether it be my high school’s yearbook committee or even my general group of friends. Change was bad. But, without the change, my life wouldn’t have been altered for the better. By having new people enter our theatre circles, for instance, I wouldn’t have met most of the friends that I still have today. I would have never met my first love, and that is something that I cannot easily forget. I hated the people because I felt like they were changing while I wasn’t at all. I’ve realized now that almost everybody actually changed for the better. Even I have changed since starting college. That is life and that is exactly what I was most afraid of.
I hated feeling confined. I felt like I was stuck in Goldsboro, and my family appeared so much more different than a lot of other families. I felt like I wasn’t ever allowed to do anything. I had to practically beg my mom to let me do some of the things that normal teenagers were allowed to do. While it was hard at the time, I appreciate it now. Yes, I’m a goody-goody. And, yes, I am a bit uptight. That’s cool. I shouldn’t feel bad for being raised with a good head on my shoulders. Maybe I’m not the typical college student that people think I ought to be. Drugs and alcohol are not my thing, nor do I find large parties or loud clubs my type of scene. I feel like it’s too juvenile for my taste. I’ve been raised to keep my morals and my standards strong, no matter who is standing beside me. By confining me and trying to protect me, my parents have taught me that I should never feel ashamed of who I am. I should never feel like I have to change myself for anybody else. I hated them for it at the time, but I love them for it today. They have never let me lose sight of who I truly am and they have never allowed me to believe that my dreams were unreachable – even if I change them every single time I go home. I now feel like I don’t have to settle. I don’t have to settle on the people in my life nor the path that I’m leading. I deserve to feel self-fulfilled and loved for who I am and I deserve to be happy.
And, most importantly, I hated myself. I felt like I was always being judged by the people in my life when, in reality, I was simply just judging myself. I compared myself to too many people: I couldn’t sing as well as Jessie, I wasn’t as skinny as Cassidy, I wasn’t nearly as smart as Tyrek, and I will never be as funny as Jake. Donald will always be one of the nicest people that I’ll ever meet and Payton will forever be one of the most talented. That is them, though. I always felt like I wasn’t good enough and that I didn’t have anything to offer, but I now know differently. It really hurt my feelings when I got voted as Teachers’ Pet as a superlative in high school. I joke about it even today, but it really offended me back then. I hated that that would be what people remembered me as. I felt like I was so much more than that… and I am. Looking back, I now see just how dumb I have been. I am serious. I’ll always tell somebody when something is bothering me. And, yes, I’m really mature for my age. But I do know how to have fun and I feel like people enjoy my presence. I am super caring and I will literally give the shirt off my back for a stranger. I care too much about other people and the opinions of others impact me more than I even know. But that’s okay. I’m me. And I’m okay with that. Goldsboro didn’t make me dislike myself. I did that. But it sure was nice being able to have something to blame it on, don’t you think?
I haven’t been able to visit home as much as I did last year. And next year I am planning on getting an apartment, so I’ll probably stick to the same Goldsboro trips as this year. That doesn’t mean I do not miss it. I feel more homesick than I thought was possible because I now realize just how special my hometown is to me. But the great thing about Goldsboro is that I know I can always come home and that I’ll always be welcomed with open arms. No other location will ever be more of a piece of who I am than this one, and I know that “Goldsboring” will forever be the place for me. I don’t know if I’ll return to my hometown to live after graduating college, but it’s nice to know that all I have to do click my heels to return to a place that I’ll always be loved for who I am. There really is no place like home.