You know when you hear a song and it just resonates with you. Like the lyrics say something that either, puts into words an emotion or thought you couldn’t find the words for; or calls you out on something?
I had one of those moments the other day. I’m a music whore. What I mean by that is that I listen to all music: I don’t discriminate based on genre, artist, or time period when it was released. If I like it, I like it. Well, to be fair, my only real requirement is that there’s lyrics: no classical for me please.
One of the songs I’ve been obsessed with is Caylee Hammack’s “Small Town Hypocrite.” But, fuck. Those lyrics hit a little closer to home than I want to admit.
Except, I’m obviously I’m admitting it…
If you haven’t heard the song, you should find it and listen, but the lyrics tell the story of a small town kid who felt like an outsider, and gave up everything to fit into the mold she thought she needed to for a boy she liked: she gave up college, she lived with him for seven years without a commitment, he moved in with another lady and her kids. The chorus talks about how they said they’d be running the town, but he was running around and now she’s a small town hypocrite.
I was that kid. I mean, I didn’t give up college, but I always felt like an outsider, and often still do. I gave up on things, took criticism to fit into a mold I thought I had to fit into to make people like me, to feel like I was worthy of the boy who I thought was the boy.
I also often feel like a hypocrite now. The bridge says, “Now I’m just a small town hypocrite, bitching about the bridges I burned, the trains I didn’t catch.”
I don’t bitch about it…per say…to people in my life…most of the time. But sometimes I feel like I made the wrong choices. Like I’m stuck in a small town that could be the sister to the one I grew up in. Like I’m no better than someone who chose not to leave, to grow, to experience life.
As a teacher, I often encourage my students to leave town for at least a year: even if they don’t go to college. To live in a different place, to see different cultures, people. To travel, to explore.
I’m not saying I didn’t do those things: I went to college in two different towns, one in a different state, and didn’t move back to my hometown even though there was an opportunity to do so.
But….but. But I always said I was going to get out. I said I was leaving my hometown, and living differently. I pictured moving somewhere like New York City, and building a fairy tale life so far removed from my hometown. Away from small town gossip, the same families I’d known my whole life, from summer tourist season, pettiness, restlessness.
Instead, I married a South Dakotan boy, moved to a small town that just has different last names, had babies and settled into this small town life.
Part of me knows that life in a city wouldn’t be ideal for raising kids. Part of me thinks it might be better.
I had a conversation with one of my favorite people from high school this past weekend. After he graduated college, he did move to New York. He lives within walking distance of Broadway, and works at a huge bookstore. Sounds pretty fucking good to me.
I’m not sure where I was going with that…except that the conversation made me jealous. I know I made my choices, and I can’t imagine trying to teach somewhere other than the Midwest.
But…I feel hypocritical. I feel hypocritical when I tell my kids to go explore, when my version of exploring was to go to a college in Western Nebraska that had college-aged versions of the people I had grown up with, and then the other side of South Dakota. I’ve traveled, sure, but not to live anywhere other than the Midwest.
The greasy, churning gut, feeling of hypocrisy is in large part because I made these choices. I talk a big game for someone who has hardly left their comfort zone. I give this advice, but it’s not who I was, or am.
I tell my students to not change to fit into the small town ideals if that’s not who they are…but I did. I tell my students who you are in high school isn’t who you have to be…which I do maintain, but I also find myself falling back on old habits in my new-to-me small town: over-worrying about appearance, trying to match style choices, biting my tongue, trying to make myself small, because my big personality and voice make me a target of discussion. Not speaking out on things I believe in, or am passionate about because God forbid someone know that I’m not like everyone else.
I guess, I’m just a small town hypocrite who just doesn’t want to fucking be one.
Or…maybe I’m just a whiny millennial who overthinks everything, and is such a type four that I make myself out to be an outsider to make myself believe I’m unique.
Oof. I mean…I love the song…but I feel targeted by my own thoughts right now.