It is a well documented fact that I grew up in Bunbury, 2 hours south of Perth. While some of it’s negatives caused me to move away as soon as possible, there are some important things I learned growing up in a country town.
Jeanswest top | Jeanswest pants | Galibelle shoes | Vintage bag
Photos: Adelle at Where The Styled Things Are
Every time I go back to Bunbury, it is like stepping into another world. The town centre feels 80’s and unfinished, the stores don’t make sense and the eateries (bar a small handful) leave a lot to be desired. I feel like a snobby city slicker admitting these things, but it is true, Bunbury is a city living in a country town costume. In the 90’s and early 00’s, when I was growing up in Bunbury, it was even worse. Target, Jeanswest and Betts were about the only ‘chain’ stores we had, the Grand Cinema could only show 3 movies at a time, and forget about trying to find fun things to do during the school holidays in winter! But you know what? If I could go back in time and change my upbringing, there is no way in the world I would grow up anywhere other than a country town. Having done so, there are many important lessons I have learned, and they are ones that continue to be relevant in my life today.
Friendships are not forever
It may sound a little dismal, but it is true. People come in and out of your life for certain amounts of time, and for particular reasons. At the tender age of 17, I made the big move from Bunbury to Perth, to further my education. I left home, my family and my childhood friends, and moved in with some housemates I didn’t know from a bar of soap. My entire friendship circle as I knew it dissolved, and new friendships were made. I still look back at the people I was friends with even just one year ago and severely miss the amazing times we had, but for one reason or another I know those friendships are now not what they used to be and I have learned to be ok with that. It doesn’t mean I resent these people or can’t ever see them again, I just know that my hey-day with them has passed.
Limitations are only in your mind
In 2005, the only places we could go shopping in Bunbury were Target, Jeanswest, Betts (NB: I STILL purchase from all of these places), the op-shops and all bazillion of the surf stores around. That is both a slight under and over exaggeration, but you get the gist, there really wasn’t much choice. There were two options – you could either follow the crowd and wear head to toe Roxy from the mannequin in the surf store window, or you could find your own groove and make do with what you were given. I chose the latter. In my teenage years, I was the odd one out, choosing to wear whatever I found in my mum’s childhood wardrobe over things from the local surf stores. Despite being given only a handful of options, I still managed to be me – there was no reason not to be.
This is just one example, but as you could appreciate, there were plenty more ‘disadvantages’ to living in a smaller town that we just had to make do with or overcome. Even now, I like to look at the opportunities I don’t have and rather than think ‘well, that is that’ I will find a way to make it work for me. Who said blogging had to be harder because of geographical location (**wink wink**)?
The world is only separated by physical distance
In Bunbury, everyone knows everyone. It is characteristic of small towns. You literally could not go anywhere, do anything or talk to anyone without there being some connection, or something getting back to the rest of the populous of Bunbury. In a way, it is pretty comforting living in such a tight knit community of people (I think that is what I love so much about Mt Lawley/Northbridge to be honest!). It is also a great reminder that every move you make is one that can come back to bite you in the bum. As much as people say they hate gossipers, nobody can resist talking about mutual friends and acquaintances, honestly. Growing up in such an environment was almost a little precursor to the digital world, where everything is now so transparent, and even living in a wider community like WA. The number of times I have had people I don’t even know talking to me about last week’s activities (cheers blogging!) is a friendly reminder that we really are not as isolated as we think!