Unashamed Truths of a Middle Class Twenty Something

I'm figuring it out as I go.

I Was Raised in Ames. I Grew Up in Mount Vernon.

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The day I moved in.

As an alumna.

Six years ago when I started viciously looking into colleges, I knew three things: 1) I wasn’t going to go to a small school. 2) I wasn’t going to a school in a small town. 3) I wasn’t going to school in Iowa. Here I am, I graduated from Cornell College (a school of 1200) in Mount Vernon (a town of 3200), Iowa. I spent four years at a school which was the absolute opposite of everything I wanted. I couldn’t be happier. I was raised in Ames, Iowa, a university town of about 60,000 people, give or take. I didn’t grow up there. I grew up in Mount Vernon. Mount Vernon and Cornell will always be home to me. They were the best and worst four years of my life. In two years I’ll only go back for Homecomings and the occasional pledging because all of my friends will be gone and graduated. Right now I go back as often as I can. Not because I’m trying to regain the glory days, but because it’s the only place I’ve ever fully been me.  In Ames, there are expectations and things I have to hide and there’s 19 years of anecdotal evidence that I was a very different person. In Braidwood, I watch everything I say so my past isn’t revealed, and I can’t talk about anything I’m passionate about because they won’t understand or won’t listen to a differing opinion. In Mount Vernon on campus, I can be me; everything is out in the open and there isn’t anything I’m hiding. In Mount Vernon I:

  • Met my best friends
  • Fell in love
  • Learned what it feels like to fight like hell and still lose
  • Was included and accepted
  • Found a place I belonged socially, intellectually, culturally
  • Had people who fought for me and with me
  • Started and finished a career and threw a huge party for everyone who supported me through it
  • Didn’t have to hide because I had a group of people who supported me
  • Learned what it felt like to be dehumanized
  • Received a few death threats
  • Stayed up way too late just to talk
  • Enjoyed warm summer nights with close friends singing to an acoustic guitar
  • Was raped
  • Met new and old friends at Heritage Days
  • Gave a fraternity a second chance and gained some really cool friends (some are still assholes, though)
  • Cried a lot
  • Made my first home in my first apartment
  • Learned how to let go of toxic people
  • Learned how to fight for the important people
  • Wasn’t alone
  • Was treated as less than
  • Travelled
  • Earned my favorite nickname mom from my best friends and my favorite fraternity
  • Accepted my short comings, my faults, my limitations
  • Realized sometimes I am special and unique
  • Began guest lecturing and advocacy for my biggest passion
  • Most of all, I made memories

I appreciate the years I had in Ames; they did their fair share of defining. Mount Vernon is where I grew up, though. It is the place that I can still go and see a good deal of my best friends; wave and hug half the people on campus; I can tell funny stories about most because I’ve witnessed their drunken escapades; a handful ask where the cookies are because they were regular dinner attendants; I hear “Awww, I missed you!!!” and I know they mean it; I can watch the football team play and know most of them by name because I fed them last year; I will always be able to get a free drink because so many drank for free because of me. Cornell was everything I didn’t want in a college, but it turned out to be everything I needed.


Author: Midwestern Twenty Something

RaeAnna is a wanderer on a mission; though, she's not always sure what that mission is. Taking on adulthood with a sense of humor, a book, and her dog, she's ready to conquer the world. Unafraid to celebrate her faults or photograph her tumbles, she aims to help people see life as an ever-rolling, lopsided wheel instead of the perfectly manicured and Instagrammably stationary square we wish it were.

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