What is it Like to be a Small-Town Boy in a Big City?

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I’m Harsh Agrawal

Blog Scientist & a passionate blogger. Love minimalist life & talk about things that matter. Adventure from heart & doer by action.

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Big City

Life is an endless journey, and at every phase, we learn something new. Some things we are taught by the people around us, and some things we learn on our own. I have learned much of what I know on my own.

At the time of the writing of this journal entry, I’m 27 and living in the capital city of India.

Today, I will be sharing my experience of living in a big city for the past 12 years.

I’m from a small town – a place where we know everyone’s face and everyone’s name – a place in which we greet one another with a smile.  

small town guy

Since childhood, I have been curious and enthusiastic about exploring and learning things that I have never seen or experienced before.

My greatest source of inspiration is my grandfather.  He is in his late 70’s, and whenever I see him, I always feel inspired to become the kind of person he is.

I often ask myself if I will ever become the kind of entrepreneur my grandfather is.  The meaning of entrepreneurship has changed over time, but back in the 60’s and 70’s, entrepreneurship was all about starting a business from nothing, and creating a family that makes you feel proud at a later stage of your life. My grandfather has certainly succeeded at both, and when I look at him I simply wish to be like him.

The great thing about being a small-town guy is that my morals and values have been cultivated from day one, and at the age of 27 I can honestly say that these morals and values have helped me to become the person I am today.

In India, especially in a business class family, a descendant usually takes over the family business. Fortunately, I am blessed with an elder brother who happened to carry on the family business culture, and I was allowed to form my own business ideas. This has offered me the freedom to create the life I wish to create for myself and my own family.

In 2002 I moved to Delhi to attend one of India’s top schools, (Laxman Public School), and that is when I embarked on the journey to the life I am living in today.

It was not an easy decision to move away from the comfort and warmth of my family to start building something from scratch.  The journal you are reading now is all about the life lessons I have learned during this period of time in my life, and what is it like to be a small-town boy in a big city, making a life of my own.

How Life changes:

Life as an introvert:

Let me be honest with myself and with you; when I first moved to Delhi, it was an amazing experience.  The feeling of freedom, the excitement of exploring a new place, and the anonymity of walking around in a place where no one knew me were all exciting but very significant changes for me at this time in my life. It took me two years to adjust to the culture, the local customs, and a whole new way of thinking. (Yes – India is a country of many cultures!) It was not difficult by any means, but it wasn’t an easy process either.

As time went on and I came to learn many things about myself, I realized and accepted that I am an introvert.

Being an introvert is not bad, but it’s a challenge when you are put in a big crowd, and you have to engage or present yourself. Still, I accepted the challenge, and worked on becoming more of an extrovert. At times I succeeded, and at times I failed. Every failure taught me how to be better at it the next time, and at this point, I can say that I’m learning and implementing more extroversion.

You are on your own:

One of the scariest feelings in life is the realization that you are on your own. When I was 22 I accepted that, and I realized that I was going to have to make my life whatever I wanted it to be.

I could either live a life of purpose that I would design for myself, or I could have a life that would be decided by my family. I chose to create my life on my own terms and to become the change I want to see.

The transition in terms of thoughts, finding the perfect balance, and creating a life I want was not easy, and it was never meant to be easy.  

I succeeded and I failed many times in many ways. But whenever I failed, I marked the failure as a lesson, and it helped me to grow stronger.

I have accepted that I am on my own and, despite having a loving family, the life I am creating is going to be my life.  I thought that I could choose to live a rebellious life or a life of meaning. Interestingly, what I found was a solid balance of both!

Your problems are your own:

When you are with your family, you share your pain and your problems. But, when you are on your own all burdens belong to you and you alone. Problems are a part of life, and they can come at any stage of life. Some problems will be big, and many of them will be small.  

What I have taught myself, however, is that any problem I have today is a result of my actions in the past, and thus my future will be shaped by how I act today.

So, if you have any problem in your life today, take action and find a solution! Time will help with some problems, but they usually will not resolve automatically. You must take action and make things happen.  Stay strong and stay positive!

Transition of thoughts and reality:

The biggest fight for me was handling the initial transition. What I saw in my childhood and what I see now are two different aspects of life. The greatest challenge for me was accepting the transition and embracing a new reality.

Surely, if you are a small-town guy living in a big city world, you too must have felt the heat of the transition. But with time we become accustomed to new ways of being and new ways of living.  And from there we are free to create the life of our dreams.

You can either cry or find a reason to smile:

There are times when we want others to understand us, and to understand, accept and even help handle our problems. But life doesn’t always work this way. Everyone else is busy with their own life issues. Ask yourself:

Would you like to handle the problems of others throughout your life?

Helping other people to be happy is one thing.  But carrying someone else’s emotional baggage is a completely different matter. If you are a person who likes to see others happy, be a messenger and not a carrier!

More or enough:

There is no end to asking for more. What you should be asking for is enough. Whatever you get beyond “enough” is happening and exciting. If you are always looking for more, you may end up having more, but never enough. Enough gives you satisfaction. More gives you anxiety and cravings for even more. Have goals and gratitude for enough, rather than asking for more.

Little things that I have learned:

  • You are the boss of your life. You can either be a good boss or a failed boss. The choice is yours’!
  • You know yourself better when you are on your own.
  • Do things that make you happy, rather than doing things just to make others happy.
  • Accept your shortcomings, and work to improve them.
  • Life is too short to complain, so live it to the fullest.
  • People who are part of your life today may not be there tomorrow. So, when you are with them, make the time memorable.
  • You can’t make everyone happy, and you don’t need to. Find the people with whom you feel most comfortable, and live life with them like there is no tomorrow.
  • Be rebellious but don’t be reckless.
  • Connect yourself to things that will never let you lose your basics. Especially when you have known a change of time and place, you are bound to forget your roots. But if you hold on to something that reminds you of who you are at your core, you will never become a person you don’t want to be.
  • Never depend on anyone but yourself. When you plan to make a life of your own, the first rule is to never depend on anyone or anything. Remember that the things you see now are bound to change. If you are emotionally connected, you will be hurt. Love everything, but don’t make it your life.
  • Family is everything: When you stay away from family, the connection and bonding is not the same. But, do remember that family is everything, and even when everything else fails, you can count on your family to be there for you. So, always stay connected to your family. They are the first and last people in your life. No matter where you are or how far apart you may be, a quick phone call or video call to the family will ensure that the bond remains strong.
  • Life is more practical than based on emotions: Emotions are good, but they are overrated. They sound good in books and movies, but in real life, you have to be practical.
  • Do more of what makes you happy.
  • Never let others make a decision for you. You may seek the advice of others whom you respect or admire, but make a decision on your own. You are the only one who is responsible for your choices in the end.
  • Last but not least, you are writing the story of your future right now.

I will continue to update what I’m learning by being a small-town guy in a big city world, but for now, this is all I’ve got.

If you are someone who is living on your own in a big town, I would love to hear your story.

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