The world is scary, but also complex. It is full of regretters and dreamers, inequality and egalitarianism, war and peace. In a place like Lake Forest and Lake Bluff, the bad parts of the world are hidden from those inside. Families can leave their doors unlocked, and kids can bike into town on their own. Less than five miles away, in North Chicago, for example, or even Chicago, there’s a completely different lifestyle.
In a town like Lake Forest, many generations of families grow up and have their children in the same area. This is because it provides safety, scenery, and endless amounts of opportunity to be successful. Growing up in the same town as the generation before you entails more positives than negatives. As someone who moved around a lot as a child, I sometimes get envious of those who have known their friends for their entire life. Growing up in the same proximity for 17 years creates deep roots, and deeper connections. Though I feel this way, many people who have grown up in these conditions would argue that this way of life is boring and tedious, and by the time senior year rolls around they are craving a change of scenery quite passionately. It’s human nature to yearn for more–for deeper connections of your own in a new place–or for more experiences to give your opinions depth. A significant difference I have noticed among people like me — those who grew up outside Lake Forest — compared to those who haven’t, was the opinion of the outside world. I asked four people, all with different backgrounds if they would consider living outside the United States, and if they would consider moving back to Lake Forest to start a family after college:
How long have you lived in Lake Forest/Lake Bluff? Have you lived anywhere else?
“4 years, LA.”
“My entire life.”
“7 years, Wisconsin.”
“8 years, London.”
Would you consider living outside of the United States? Why or why not?
“No, language barrier.”
“No. I love the US, and people hate American accents.”
“No, because I am a very picky eater.”
“Yes. I think the rest of the world is interesting and exciting.”
Do you plan on moving back to Lake Forest/Lake Bluff when you’re older after college? Why or why not?
“No, lack of activity and weather.”
“Yes, I feel like this would be a good place to raise my kids.”
“Nope, I don’t want to stay in the midwest.”
I noticed a strong correlation that those who had grown up in the United States wanted to stay in the United States. I have reason to believe that this is because those people had never experienced anything else. They expect the rest of the world to be a scary and unforgiving place, and the safety net of at least being in America provides a comfort to them. I grew up outside of the country, and moved to the Midwest when I was thirteen. I don’t feel the same loyalty or connection to Lake Forest/Lake Bluff as others who have maybe lived here for longer would. There are some limitations so my findings, yes. Obviously not everyone growing up in the United States wants to stay. In fact, there are many that would love to travel the world.
But the idea that America is home, and there’s no other place like it, is an idea I can understand.