Maine is undoubtedly one of the most different states in America. We pride ourselves in our independent nature, gorgeous scenery and distinctive varying climate. According to a recent Business Insider poll, Americans voted Maine as one of the most underrated states in America. However, sometimes being unique isn’t always something to take pride in. While Maine may be the most underrated state, it has the whitest and oldest population in the entire country and suffers from a severe lack of diversity.
Young people growing up in Maine are at a disadvantage for experiencing the real world. Many students across Maine, with the exception of the Greater Portland area, are being taught in schools filled with a definite majority of white students and teachers. It is harmful for young people to experience such a lack of diversity because it is not an accurate representation of our country or what life is like outside Maine. Most youth in Maine hardly realize they are so behind until they learn what they are missing out on.
Though I’ve only visited a handful of states around the country, I’ve traveled enough to know that growing up in Maine does not prepare you for other areas of the country. I distinctly remember wandering through a large three-story shopping mall in the middle of Washington D.C. when I was participating in a high school travel program. I was a frequent customer at the Maine Mall, which I had considered fairly large — but the Maine Mall could not even compare to this colossal shopping plaza I remember standing in. The Maine Mall did not have the vast elevators, two-story Victoria’s Secret or massive food court. It was a wake-up call.
Growing up in Maine is wonderful; Maine is secure, quaint and free of heavy traffic and city life, but it can be boring and predictable. It is crucial for young people to experience diversity and get out of their comfort zone every once in awhile. It can be now, it can be after college or it can be whenever. Just do it. Go out there and see how different life is for people in other states. Visit a state that never receives snow. Go to the West Coast and experience the famous In-N-Out burgers, or heck, just drive down to Boston and try a meal from a Sonic. Maybe you will find something that you like out there, or maybe you’ll come back and enjoy life in Maine. Either way, it is crucial to see what is out there and gain new insight.