I think I’ve outgrown my hometown, which in turn makes me feel like I’ve outgrown the people here, and it’s turning me into a resentful, angry hermit.
Ok, so let’s start with a little background. I live in a small town, filled with working-class people who still hold pretty traditional views. I can count the number of non-white British people I went to school with on one hand, and the height of socialising is the local pub. I go to university in another town, but still live at home. There are many reasons why I can’t leave home yet, the main one being that David Cameron simply doesn’t seem to want me to ever be able to.
I had gotten into a pretty steady pattern: going to university during the week, pub on Fridays, freelance writing and volunteering on weekends or during any free time. I had a set way and it was something that, although repetitive, I was comfortable with.
But when university ended for the summer and all my friends, who were half an hour away and that I got to see at least 4 days a week, were scattered around the country (and globe), I haven’t gotten my structure anymore, or my girls.
This was the first time I realised how much I’ve outgrown my hometown. I tried to fill my time with more activities: doing more work, learning to drive, but mostly spending more time with my friends at home. Coming from such a small town, there isn’t much to do, and our attempts at not being stuck in the house all the time quickly turned into going to the local pub 4 days in a row. Now, I loved going to pub once a week, seeing everyone and catching up. But every night for so long made it seem like we didn’t even have anything to say to each other. We were just sat in a beer garden made up of the only other type of people who are sat in a pub at 7pm on a weekday. This was the first blow. Doing the same thing so much, with nothing else, made me feel a little trapped, like I was stuck repeating the same day over and over again, like Phil in Groundhog Day.
The hatred of our outings quickly turned into anger towards the people I was spending time with. I started to see faults with almost everyone I was around, until it got to the point of me questioning why I was even friends with them in the first place! Despite coming out to them all months ago, some still make homophobic comments in front of me and, worst of all, no one else pulls them up on it. It’s been a running joke for a while now that out of everyone I’m the easiest to piss off – if you say something I disagree with, I’ll tell you. However, the novelty had worn off a long time ago. I’m tired of trying to hang out with my friends and being offended by or horrified at the things they are saying, and I can’t tell if it’s a joke anymore.
Now just to be clear, they aren’t really bad people. I’m focusing on the negatives, but I can’t help questioning if I belong here or with them anymore. This doesn’t mean they aren’t good people or haven’t been good friends.
As well as the friends at university, I have a really close family; the problem is just that they aren’t here. Now more than ever I feel the emptiness of my sisters both leaving home. With my friends and loved ones everywhere else, it makes me feel even more isolated in a town I no longer feel at home in, with people I’m not sure I’m even comfortable with anymore.
I’ve simply outgrown this town, but with moving out not an option, I feel as though I’m trapped alone while the walls are only getting closer and uglier.
Even the escape of university doesn’t seem enough. Returning home every day has lost it’s excitement and my gratitude towards being home. I spend more time with friends at university than I do at ‘home’, and knowing I’m not going to be able leave any time soon seems to only heighten these feelings of entrapment and isolation.
I know a lot of people in this situation and a lot more who are going to be. People simply can’t afford to move away, at least not a lot of us, so what are we meant to do? I’m stuck in a town I’ve outgrown.
Words: Zoe Wallbank
Image: Suzie Mason