Wednesday, January 25, 2017

6 Months Away From Home

For those who don't know, I moved from Chicago to a tiny, little town in the middle of Eastern Kentucky for a job. I have yet to go back to Chicago since I moved here about six to seven months ago. HOWEVER, I never expected to enjoy a small town as much as I have.

I moved from the metropolis of over nine million people to a town of just about 6,000. Talk about a culture shock. When I first moved here, I was just stuck in a hole. I kept going up to Athens to see my old friends, I rarely left my apartment on my days off, and I just felt really out of place. I was a 6' tall Chicagoan who moved to the South, so I felt SUPER out of place.

I would go out on stories and cover high school and college athletes. I would make on average an hour drive to get these interviews and get to know these kids. The one thing that just kept showing itself over and over again is the amount of poverty in this part of the state. I would see delapidated houses, lawns that are unkept, hundreds of torn up mobile homes and just poverty stricken homes. But then, I would meet these kids, and they would blow my mind.

These kids, especially the high schoolers, are struggling through so much and have so many extra responsibilities that I didn't have growing up. I was blessed to grow in the city with so many options to help the family when I could. But these kids are just having a smile on their face, practice and play their butts off, and keep living their life to the best of their ability.

I never thought these high schoolers would be as influential on me as they have been. They have so many dreams and aspirations and they don't let their location get in the way. I had the privilege to live in such a big city and have so many opportunites at my disposal. These kids are scraping by to just be a success, and it's truly inspiring.

These parents of these kids are even more impressive. They sacrifice everything to make sure their baby can get the new gear for practice or take them all over the country so they can grow as athletes. I've interviewed so many parents and teenagers, and all of them have touched me in some way.

When I first moved here, I was a snob. I thought I was better than all these people down here, because I came from Chicago. I was stuck up. I admit that. Now that I've been here as long as I have, I realized that I'm not better than anyone else. These kids are all trying to acheive the same goals I had when I was their age. These kids have humbled me, and I never thought a small town would have that much of an impact on my life.