One of the things I've worried about by starting this thread is that it will appear as if I am trying to play the "woe is me" card or that I am trying to make Podunk seem less of a victim. I truly hope that is not what you gather from reading this. I'm starting to learn that often my words do not truly convey what I intend for them to.
I'm also learning that I am far more influenced by societal norms that I would have believed. And possibly that I am too eager to please - beyond my own comfort level. And that is just scraping the surface.