One of the main questions I’m asked in college is “Where are you from?” This is one of those things that stems from my accent which, as I am told, is a pretty thick Southern one. My reply is, proudly, “I’m from Cochran, Georgia.”
“Where” is an easy question to answer, but much harder to answer is “What is Cochran like?” I can’t properly articulate how amazing my small town really is, but what I can elaborate on, though, is how much my small town taught me and (hopefully) do justice to Cochran, my favorite place on earth.
1. Quality is more important than quantity.
As far as restaurants go, there are few choices, but the food is absolutely fantastic. When it comes to education, we have one school system, Bleckley County, but it is known as one of the best public schools in its classification. The biggest thing that comes to mind, though, is the people. Cochran boasts a small population of 4,804 people, but I have yet to meet better people than those in my hometown.
It taught me that, in life, how much you do pales in comparison to how well you do it.
2. Community is important.
This is one of my favorite things about my small town. Everyone supports high school sports because the way we see it, if a Bleckley County team wins, we all win. When I played tennis, we had several members of the community who would come out and practice with us for nothing in return. They simply loved the students, the sport, and the school for which we played. Businesses in Cochran are the best boosters around, pitching in money for the recreation department and different school supports. One of my favorite sights is seeing kids at the recreation department running around with the name of a small business sponsor on the back of their jersey.
Make connections within your community and be sure to give back to it every chance you get.
3. Appreciate the “humble” jobs.
You won’t find many big time CEOs in my small town. Cochran’s workforce mainly consists of educators, nurses, bankers, farmers and small business owners. I have a special appreciation for those who work because they enjoy their job, even if this doesn’t bring in the big bucks. I can’t tell you a single CEO who has changed my life, yet I can tell you the name of every teacher I’ve ever had. Bigger isn’t better in this case; Cochran taught me that the names that aren’t up in lights are often the ones who make the biggest difference in your life.
4. Slow down.
Life in a small town moves at a comfortably slow speed. Everyone knows the meaning of hard work, yet we also know that a fast lifestyle isn’t everything. I count myself lucky that, until I left Cochran, the closest thing to ‘traffic’ I’d ever really experienced was getting stuck behind a tractor on a main road. I’m blessed to say that I grew up in 35 MPH kind of town, and I’m not just talking about the speed limit.
We live in a high speed world, but learn how to take it down a notch and take in the beauty of what’s around you.
5. Don’t do anything you wouldn’t want “your mama and them” to find out.
In a small town, word travels quickly. Most of the time in high school, my parents knew exactly what trouble I was getting into before it even crossed my mind. This was a hard lesson for me to hammer into my brain, but it’s one that I will never forget. The fact that my actions would be known by everyone in the town gave me an extra incentive to reflect well on my parents. This equates back to the real world for all of us. You represent your parents. You represent your town. Make that a good representation.
6. You can always go home.
It took moving away from my favorite place in the world for me to realize this. I have found that, sometimes, I just need to be back where I belong. When constant deadlines and overwhelming stress gets to be too much, it really pays off to go back to where my heart really is. When I cross the county line, my shoulders relax because I’m in my own version of the promised land.
Home is where the heart is, and no matter what you’ve done or what condition you’re in, you can (and should) go back home every chance you can.
Though Cochran will always be “my place”, this is a reminder that you are who you are because of where you come from. Your hometown is a part of your legacy. Love it and appreciate it. To Cochran, thanks for loving me and giving a meaning to the phrase, “There’s no place like home.”
Cover Image Credit: city-data.com