Growing up into my late teens or early twenties, I had so many people telling me what I needed to do and what I needed not to do. Looking back, it was very overwhelming to someone like me, a naturally meek and quiet person. I had so many opinions thrown at me, and it took me a few years to finally sit down and truly think about what I wanted in my life.
I was told countless times by various people how I needed to move away, get out of this small town, and live somewhere bigger because there's so much "more." I always wondered what "more" meant to them. More people? More job opportunities? More places to shop, eat at, and visit? I never asked them what "more" was for them, but I have a feeling that they probably didn't know either.
I'm nearly twenty-four years old, and I have lived in Jackson my whole life. I didn't truly start appreciating this city until just a few years ago. With so many opinions about moving hitting me every day, I constantly considering relocating to a new city—not because I wanted to but because I thought that's what I was supposed to do because everyone else was doing it. But I never followed through. I was repeating the words that were being spoken to me because I heard them so much. "There is nothing here. This town is a rut. There's so much more."
But then I began to switch my thinking about this city. This place is home to me, not only because I was born and raised here, but because I have community here. I'm very introverted, so my friend group is super small, but I've met a lot of people here over the years. And though I lost touch with several people, I still cherish the memories made here more than I can say, and I'm excited about future connections.
This city is growing and is full of such wonderful people, and I think that's a major reason why some choose to stay. People matter, and having a great community makes all the difference. My mom told me that when she was growing up she constantly moved and never had roots anywhere. She always encouraged me to stay here, and being the stubborn teenager I was, I would say, "But mom, there's so much more." My mom is right about most things, but especially about staying planted and having roots.
I work from home running an online shop and have built a really great online community on Instagram. I've even had the opportunity to invite a few of my followers-turned-friends to come visit Jackson. Just recently I invited two girls to come and help me with a photoshoot, and I got to show them around downtown Jackson, treat them to lunch at Rock’n Dough, and munch on cupcakes at Woodstock Bake Shop. We walked all over the square and past murals, and they kept telling me how much fun this was. It made my heart happy because not only did the small town charm contribute to the fun, but our togetherness is what made it truly special.
So, will I ever move out of Jackson? Who knows? It all depends on what the Lord wants for me. I have a feeling, though, that this is where I'll stay, and I'm content saying that because where I am is home. Most people won't understand my choice to stay, and that's okay. There’s more to find here than you might expect.
Allyson Johnson is a twenty-four-year-old Jackson native and shop owner of Printable Happies. She has lived in Jackson since birth with her family and a handful of cute animals.