Dream big—as parents, educators, professionals, and leaders we say those words a lot. We encourage kids not to settle, to reach for the stars. We want them to believe they are capable of doing and becoming anyone or anything their hearts desire. Oftentimes, the dream big idea encourages the idea of leaving where you are and where you’re from.
I distinctly remember giving a presentation to a group and one of the final things I said to them was, “It’s OK to live in a small town, there’s value in it.” Another professional in the room took issue with my statement saying she didn’t want them to settle. I don’t think dreaming big means settling if it keeps or lands you in a small town.
Small towns have value. Residing in one and making your dreams come true there is just as valuable as those whose dreams lead them elsewhere.
Sure there’s always glamor in big city lights. We all love the excitement and the possibilities those lights hold. They represent something, whether it be financial freedom, your name in lights, or access at your fingertips, there’s certainly an allure. Not all dreams begin and end there though. Not all dreams require the bright lights and breaking away.
I want my kids to dream big. I tell them that they can be anything they want to be, and I believe it. I believe it because I want them to believe it too. I don’t want to limit their dreams—dreams are what motivate us, what give us ambition to pursue life.
But, I don’t want my kids to think the only way to obtain their dreams is to leave where they’re from.
I’ve seen dreams come to life in a small town. Dreams of opening a business happen in small town USA. Dreams of revitalizing a town that others have written off. Dreams of owning a home, of having a family, dreams of happiness—they can all be found right there in small town USA. I’ve seen my dreams come true, and I continue to dream big and push on to the next big dream right here in my small town. It can happen.
Dream big. Don’t settle. Don’t forget who you are. Don’t discount your dream or its value if it places you in a small town. You’ll find your dreams can grow there and provide value to those around you if you keep dreaming and believing.