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AIMLESSLY NAVIGATING: Relationships, positivity breed happiness

I spent 40 consecutive hours in the same house this weekend. I'm sure this was not a unique experience, and I'm thankful I had a warm shelter from the weekend's blizzard. But the seclusion from the outside world bred some deep thoughts. Since mov...

I spent 40 consecutive hours in the same house this weekend.

I’m sure this was not a unique experience, and I’m thankful I had a warm shelter from the weekend’s blizzard. But the seclusion from the outside world bred some deep thoughts.

Since moving to Worthington in July, I’ve heard countless times (mostly from peers within my age group) how there’s “nothing to do in Worthington.” I’ve received endless apologies for what they considered a terrible move on my part.

The comments were irritating to me, not only because I tried to stay positive about my relatively significant life decision to uproot myself, but it frustrated me that many of these individuals were not without the ability to make choices.

I grappled to understand why many my age that have such negative feelings about Worthington choose to continue to call it home. Everyone has different circumstances - some more mitigating than others - but to me it seemed fairly straightforward. Not content? Make a change.

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There’s a couple events I attended recently (locally, even!) that tied together really well this idea of conscious decision making and area opportunities.

During Monday’s Salute to Women Banquet (which was fabulous!), motivational speaker Willow Sweeney demonstrated a concept of being a “Top 20” person.

Although Sweeney’s business conceptualized with the idea of teaching students critical thinking and decision-making skills and now specializes in teaching staff development, her claim that one’s attitude and response to any of life’s situations is a conscious decision and learned skill can be applied to virtually any profession or personal life.

The message was powerful, and I’d be remiss if I didn’t admit that I could think of some recent days I’d be categorized in the “Bottom 80.”

She also talked about the shift in culture from happy and peace-filled hippies in the ’70s to today, where kids are often apathetic and crabby.

That attitude, she argues, is a learned decision-making skill.

If anyone is skeptical, I’d challenge them to spend five minutes on social media and track adults’ behavior.  

It probably did not take close to five minutes to find several of what have become to be known as “keyboard warriors” - individuals that carelessly posts insensitive or aggressive comments online. I’d add that these comments are often rash, ignorant and those making them do nothing but habitually complain behind a computer screen and want someone else to “fix” whatever issue they’re groaning about next.

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Some people that make these comments would say them in person, too, but I’m convinced the vast majority wouldn’t. Despite not hiding one’s identity online, this form of “voicing frustrations” (put loosely) is much more impersonal than having a face-to-face conversation. The thought of engaging in a thoughtful conversation one-on-one and being put on the spot to continuously respond and argue one’s viewpoint is often scary to these keyboard warriors.

This narrative is certainly not unique to Worthington, and I’d argue it’s a challenge that communities across the country share.

The recent District 518 referendum and city’s long journey to bring a movie theatre to town are just two examples of the widespread keystroke fire that blazed through town recently and continues to spread.

When more time and effort is spent complaining about everything that isn’t ideal, it jeopardizes finding real solutions. Anyone has the ability to decide to engage in prompting change.

That being said, I am encouraged by what is going on in Worthington. Yes, there’s some gaps in what is typical for a community of its size, but I believe there’s more engagement from a wider demographic of community members than when I landed here.

I think that face-to-face collaboration and engagement is imperative, especially when trying to create an environment where the community’s younger professionals want to provide their skills and talents.

Trying to not only train, but retain, young persons in southwest Minnesota was one of the key messages at a recent Vitality Summit hosted by U.S. Rep. Tim Walz in Luverne attended by some of the area’s business and community leaders.

Data shared at the summit supports that there are more persons in the 18 to mid-20’s range that are moving out of rural southwest Minnesota communities.

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While that may not come as a big surprise, there is a trend of adults 30 and older moving in.

Why? Researchers shared that it may be because people are more concerned about safety, security, slower pace of life and sense of community than amenities.

In the meantime, I am truly thankful for whatever decision-making skill I possess that landed me in Worthington despite the trend for others my age to flock to larger cities.

Nine months since calling it home, I’m starting to feel like a member of the community, both in professional respects and in my freetime.

As snow blew this weekend and I just couldn’t watch another second of television or play another card game, I thought about all the things I could be doing in Worthington or the surrounding area.

Sure, I’d love a movie theater, bowling alley and more family dining restaurants, but those amenities don’t dictate where I move or my happiness.

Everyone has the choice to let their wellbeing and relationships with others dictate their contentedness instead of material items or amenities. I’ve always been a believer that it matters less where my geographical point is, and more about the people I surround myself with.

And as far as I’m concerned, the Worthington-area has raised and attracted some pretty top-notch people.

Opinion by Alyssa Sobotka
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