I Promise I Can Find Something Cool In Your Hometown | Uncustomary

Yesterday, I posted an article about how to go about making friends as adults, which included a list of 25 places you might go to find new kindred spirits. After posting, I received a comment that said, “Depends where you are and whom u are it sucks to be me” and then told me the small town they live in South Dakota. It made me sad, and if I’m being honest a teensy bit frustrated. I knew nothing about the town they live in, but I had immediate faith that it didn’t overall suck and I’d be able to find something interesting to do there!

I thought back to when I did some of my Rainbow Baltimore projects, like Rainbow Doors and Rainbow Rowhomes. I spent between eight and nine hours driving around Baltimore, looking for those doors and taking their picture. It was fun, but it was time-consuming work. When I posted the pictures, I was flooded with all these messages saying things like, “I wish I lived in Baltimore, it’s so colorful!” and, “Oh man, it must be nice to just walk down the street and see a rainbow row of doors everywhere you go!”. I mean, yeah! That would be nice! And Baltimore is colorful and special and weird in the best way, but those doors weren’t just on one magical street. Most of the doors in the city are like every other city: brown, black, white, metal, plain, generally boring. I had to search for that rainbow of doors!

To every person who messaged me something like that, I made sure to tell them the reality of the situation, and follow it up with, “I am positive that I could come to your city and do the exact same project”. 100% of them disputed this claim. “Oh no, my city is boring! You always post beautiful pictures of street art and interesting colorful things. We don’t have anything like that here.” Yes. You. Do.

Are some cities bigger than others? Do some have more murals? Are some filled with stranger people? Yes, yes, yes. But guess what? Baltimore really isn’t that big, and in comparison to other major cities, we actually don’t have that much street art! I am just constantly on the hunt for it! I understand that a town with a population of 60 people, one grocery store, surrounded by corn fields is a completely different situation. But I could still find something cool there. Beauty is everywhere. I’m determined to make my life a rainbow, and often I have to create my own rainbow.

I Promise I Can Find Something Cool In Your Hometown | Uncustomary

Anyway, back to the comment about it sucking to live in that town in South Dakota. I decided to use this as an opportunity to educate and help. Obviously if they were reading that blog post, they’re interested in making more friends, they just don’t have a positive attitude about it. And like so many of my professors used to say, “If you have a question, always ask it because if you’re wondering it there is always at least one other person wondering it”. By that I mean, if that person felt like that about making new friends in their hometown, there has to be others!

So what I did was I sat down and Googled my butt off. I knew nothing about this person, including what their interests/preferences were. So I tried to hit as many bases as I could. I looked for places to visit, both indoor and outdoor, free and paid, and places that offer events and classes. I found a bunch of roadside attractions and oddities nearby, courtesy of Roadside America and Atlas Obscura. I looked up local clubs that met up in person as well as Facebook groups they could join online. I also was able to locate over 25 local events starting as early as tomorrow, many of which occur once every two weeks or every month (giving them an opportunity to meet up with the same people more frequently)!

I did my best to keep it within an hour’s driving distance, and mixed up the genres as much as possible. Venues vary from caverns to yoga to libraries to karaoke to dog parks to gardens to art galleries to rock climbing. They can join clubs about golf, books, Lego’s, holistic healers, hiking, or civil air patrol. There’s some quirky options like dinosaur parks, ghost towns, and metal horses. And as far as events go, they can check out ice fishing, chocolate tastings, knitting class, bird watching, beer and bingo, arts and crafts, geocaching, and trade shows. SO. MANY. OPTIONS. And this is just what’s coming up in the near future! (If anyone wants to keep track, it was over 80 total options.)

Below I’m going to paste the response I wrote to them. If you found yourself thinking that your town sucks and there’s no way you could ever enjoy it or find new friends in it, I recommend reading it, too.

Hey J,

I’m really sorry that you feel like it sucks to be you and you’re not happy with the place you currently live. I definitely didn’t know much about your town before tonight, but now I know a lot more, and I’ll tell you why in a second.

Often, we’re discouraged by advice we hear because we think our situation is different, that we’ve tried everything already, that no one knows what we’re going through, etc. And I’m not going to pretend that I have any idea what it’s like to live in the middle of South Dakota! However, happiness is 90% perception and perspective. So if you see an article offering tips on how to do something you’d like to do more of and disregard it entirely because your situation simply “sucks”, you’re pretty much coming to the table deciding whatever glass on the table is already half empty, right?

I have absolutely no idea what your preferred interests are. Whether you’re extroverted, introverted, prefer outdoors to indoors, group activities to solo activities, like art, dislike physical activity, etc. But I decided to demonstrate to you, and to anyone else who thinks that their town sucks and it would just be better if only we were somewhere else, that with only about a half hour of Googling on my phone, I was able to come up with a bunch of ideas for places to visit, classes to take, clubs and Facebook groups to join, roadside attractions and oddities to explore, and upcoming events in your area as soon as tomorrow! (I do hope that at least some of the venues/events/attractions appeal to you! I tried to cover multiple bases/genres.)

I’m sure many of these places aren’t news to you. But we’re approaching this with the hope of meeting new people, so going somewhere you’ve been before might happen. And maybe you can find a new angle at these venues, like taking a class or attending an event you didn’t know existed! Think about all the ways you can use each one of these places, and even more importantly, ways in which you can be social and find ways to interact with people there!

This was definitely not done to pick on you. I truly hope that you find some inspiration for new ideas in your city, and that it leads to meeting new friends! I want everyone to know that there is beauty everywhere; sometimes we just have to do a bit of a deep Google search to find it. 😉

DISCLAIMER TO EVERYONE ELSE: I did this as an example to demonstrate that venues, unusual attractions, events, and places to meet new people can be found anywhere if you’re willing to look for it. Please do NOT message me and ask me to do this for your city. I unfortunately don’t have the time to do it for everyone. 🙁

However, feel free to use this list as inspiration for types of places to Google and just add your city to the search bar. Make sure to check out event tabs on websites. Click over to Facebook pages and see if there are any events announced there. Check the most recent posts on websites and social media so you know the organization is still around and that the venue isn’t closed for the season. Roadside America and Atlas Obscura are amazing resources for unusual, odd, haunted, and abandoned locations.

So what do you think? Are you someone who complains about your hometown? Are you able to find the beauty in it and still discover new things?

Tell me your favorite thing about where you live below!

Photos: Maura Housley
Mural 1: Chris Smith
Mural 2: Megan Lewis