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Nov 1, 2012 - By Betty Starks Case

Leave home? Surely you don't really want to do that?

Well, maybe kids do. And maybe that's a perfectly normal part of growing up.

Actress Angelina Jolie declares, "If you don't get out of the box you were raised in, you won't understand how much bigger the world is."

I know many parents don't wish to accept this view, but there's plenty of evidence to support the fact. There always has been.

It goes way back to my own upper teens. I had a loved sister on either side of me age-wise, but I just couldn't shake the feeling that there was something exciting for me out there in the world I'd never seen. The pull was tempting and powerful. And I went. And I grew.

I've watched this behavior for many years and in many places we've lived. The truth is, at a certain age most young adults respond to a strong urge to see what else is out there.

This is not a need to reject one's hometown, parents, or siblings. It's simply nature's way of moving them on, helping them break away from the sometimes limiting protection of the parent nest. In fact, if it weren't for that quickening force, we might all remain in the same place with no new ideas, not knowing our own potential, and possibly inbred.

Parents often say and seriously believe that if we were to create more well-paying jobs or build cultural or artistic places to the younger generation's liking, local kids would remain here.

A few of the younger generation have suggested that adequate provisions for their after-work pleasures would keep them happier here. They've noted difficulty in getting performing artists to Wyoming, more specifically, to Riverton.

I see ads and announcements regularly in The Ranger of many types of performers coming to the Robert A. Peck Arts Center, so I'm not sure what else is desired.

What I do know is the No. 1 lesson of the world venture is, "Be your own self-starter."

When I came to Riverton from a larger city where I'd been active in writers' education groups and state writing competition, I signed up for a class at CWC and asked if such a local group existed.

My instructor, who had questioned students as to why we were in the class, responded to my need with, "We used to have a writers organization, but it was dissolved some time ago. If you want such a group, start one."

I found enthusiastic writers who were more than happy to join me. Eventually, we were able to host the state writers' conference here, an achievement of considerable effort by a number of people.

I remembered my instructor's advice again after serving as state president of Wyoming Writers, Inc. I felt strongly that organization had earned The Governor's Arts Award and decided to tackle the challenge. After a two-year effort, and with the help of others, that undertaking also became reality.

The point is, if you're dissatisfied with your present situation, the change is yours to make, not someone else's to make for you.

And therein lies some of the reason for youth leaving the nest. Something out there calls to them -- something their parents and family cannot supply -- a way to learn what is different in the world.

Quite often, some of these young adventurers satisfy their need to explore, then return bringing new knowledge and new ideas. And they help their hometown grow.

So, you ask, didn't I mind when my child left? You bet I did. I minded when he left for college, thinking he might forget what we'd taught him, that someone might lead him astray, and whatever else I could worry about.

When he returned, I saw the values we'd taught were still there, plus an added strength of maturity and confidence, born of the world's testing.

If you are a parent, you'll deal with the feeling of loss over and over again. That's just part of the parent trap.

If you're a young adult, enjoy your search and don't expect anyone else to make you happy or find fulfillment for you.

It's your world. If it's not what you want, change it.

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