Iowa Fields of Opportunities

My life growing up in small-town Iowa was as basic as it gets. I got used to hearing these stories about the one person from my tiny town who made it big (you have one too). I wanted that life. The big one. The one that did not happen in small towns. So early on I dreamt as wild and as big as I could. The thought that big was possible for someone like me was slim to none, considering my middle-class non-college-educated parents. This ceiling was made known to me disgustingly early in my life. So I dreamt big but safe. The one thing no one could deny was my height so maybe I wasn’t smart but maybe I could trick the system. I decided I was going to make it big and be a D-1 athlete certainly that would lead to something. It didn’t happen and eventually, I accepted my reality. The one-shot I had was over, so I did what good Iowa girls do when they don’t make it big. Give up, move home, make babies, and live a life that is fine. I tried hard to suck it up and accept the only dreams left for me were helping my children live theirs, but it wasn’t enough. I started healing from the fact that I gave up at eighteen. Once I traced and told that story every story became easier and uncovered beliefs about myself that had held me back long before giving up. It wasn’t that Iowa, my parents, or my small-town upbringing held me back. It was the richness of the stories being told of settling growing up. The majority were people doing what I had done, giving up. I felt like I had missed out on the guide to Iowa right. I should be happy. I should be content, but it didn’t mean I was. As I continue telling this story so many Iowans have quietly contacted me. I have become subject to a lot of hidden lunch and coffee dates. People talk to me like I am a mistress. That I chalk up to this idea that the common thread of Iowans is to settle for a life of fine. So when people reach out to me or comment it is usually private because disrupting the normal or accepted life of fine is alarming when you live here. I want to change that. I want to stop people from dreaming small and realistic because of how we were raised. Iowa is actually the land of opportunity we just have to get people with talent to stop leaving because the common thread is the opposite.

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