• Thu. Feb 29th, 2024

Small Town Syndrome: Finding Liberation in the City

ByAmy Houghton

Sep 15, 2019

If you were to type ‘small-town syndrome’ into your search bar you’d be likely to come across one of two rather opposing definitions.

The first: an inflated sense of self stemming from growing up and having a large reputation in a small town. Or the second: a feeling of restlessness to escape the confines of your small town. I fall into the latter category. Spending the majority of the recent summer back in my small(ish) town in rural Wales blessed me with the realisation of just how liberated I feel when in Edinburgh. While university feels like it is a hundred miles an hour, at home I suddenly felt stuck in time. Cities offer an abundant diversity of people, exhibiting more modes of self-expression than I was ever privy to in my small-town bubble.

As a hub of open-mindedness, Edinburgh gives you the space to find yourself, try new things and evolve mentally without fear of judgement niggling at the back of your mind. Being able to go into town without the anxiety in the back of your head of running into a former teacher who prior to engaging in small talk will not so discretely raise their eyebrows and purse their lips at your choice of trousers or bold eyeshadow is liberating. University is a time for self-exploration and growth as you move away from your teenage mind set and physical distance from the place you grew up can help.

Personally as an introvert, in a city I can revel in the status of anonymity and invisibility. Though we are surrounded by so many more people, there is more room for you to become an individual. Don’t get me wrong, I was ready for a respite from the constant buzz of city life, I was craving fresh air, quiet roads and the company of my family and oldest friends. It’s a place brimming with memories and I’m grateful that its home.

However, two weeks after moving back, I found myself developing a severe case of cabin fever and yearning for the metropolitan freedom that Edinburgh offers. In a relatively isolated area, I began to feel claustrophobic and restrained. Items of clothing that I’d happily and enthusiastically wore at university began collecting dust at the back of my wardrobe. There was little to do that didn’t require at least a half hour of dodgy public transport. I was retreating back into a familiar shell, falling victim to the small town bubble that I had desperately wanted to burst pre-university.

Moving from the sheltered countryside and adjusting to city life can be an incredibly daunting prospect but there is no better place to oversee that adjustment than in Edinburgh. One of the greenest cities in the UK (second only to Bristol), it’s a perfect assortment of natural beauty and urban magnificence. Stroll down beaches, appreciate live jazz, soak in the views from Arthur’s Seat, join marches, sample foods you’ve never heard of. Immerse yourself and explore what you can offer as well as what can be offered to you.

All experiences will be different, but to any first years and fellow small-towners, don’t fear being a small fish in a big pond. Embrace this city and all of its opportunities that strongly encourage personal liberation.


Image: TheDigitalArtist via Pixabay

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