Hey there, INFP's.
Every now and then someone will ask me where I'm from and I give them a general idea of the area because they're not all that likely to recognize the name of the place -- and that's because I come from a small town. Population of just over 600 according to the most recent stats. It's funny because my sister, who was adopted, grew up in the capital city where I am now which has a population of about 100,000. Quite a contrast. She's a headstrong, outgoing ESFJ. One time we had a conversation about high school and she told me that her graduating class had a few hundred students. Compare that to the 22 people in my graduating class (and that was a combination of two towns, mind you). It's such a wild difference.
So, I wanted to ask about you guys, specifically who here comes from a small town? And in general, how do you think it shaped your personality or lifestyle? Do you still live in a small town or have you moved somewhere larger as I did?
I personally have a mixed opinion on where I come from. There were positives and negatives. Of course it's very quiet and close-knit and that lends itself to being more comforting to those of us with higher sensitivity levels. I like the idea of walking through my hometown and it being super quiet and cars only pass by every so often. I prefer that to where I am now where it's just action and noise everywhere. On the opposite end though, my town was very rural and isolated and everyone knew each other's business, and I always found that problematic as someone who puts a great value on privacy. There also's not a great deal of economic opportunity to be had there, as many people have left the place over the past 25 years since the foundation industry collapsed, looking to make a living elsewhere. It was also challenging because of the lack of recreational stimulation there, so you either picked up a few solitary hobbies, interests, and passions as I did, or you just sort of went down a darker path that often involved alcoholism. I struggled socially for all the years I was growing up, especially into adolescence. Total outcast who didn't fit in anywhere, because everybody just seemed the same and did all the same things that I didn't have any interest in. So I kind of just went my own way. That can make you a target in a small town though because a lot of people will look at you as being different and will feel threatened by something they don't understand. So I was at odds with people most of the time -- especially when I decided to become Straight Edge and people REALLY didn't understand that at all, given the culture there. My impression was that they thought something was severely wrong with me by that point. So everything just clashed. I also over time developed a very strong distaste for the rampant culture of gossiping that tends to go on amongst people who don't live very fulfilling lives and, thus, have to expend their energy dissecting everyone else's. That became something that really bothered me after a while and contributed significantly to me wanting to leave.
I frequently wonder what kind of person I would have become had I grown up in the city the way my sister did. Would I have found my niche somewhere? Would I have become the socially phobic adult I am now? I'd have to think that I would have found more diversity and open-mindedness that I've only just now been discovering in the past three and a half years since I moved. I guess I'd like to hear from any of you with similar experiences who came from the small town and desperately needed to leave because you were such a miscast character. It's interesting because I've met a handful of people here in the city who also come from rural towns elsewhere, who have shared a similar sentiment to me that they just couldn't find what they needed in their tiny town -- they weren't being completely accepted or allowed to become who they are. Sometimes crowds in a small, isolated place are set in their ways and don't know quite what to make of someone who has an alternative lifestyle, such as a different sexuality or a different religion or set of beliefs; or a different personality. For instance, I can tell you from my experience that I grew up around a LOT of extroverted sensors, and that can certainly clash with an introverted intuitive, especially if you're the lone, misunderstood one in the bunch.