This summer marked a lot of new beginnings for me (ironically at the time when my college chapters are coming to an end). Moving from my busy college life in New York City to the hot desert that is Los Angeles was just one change that took place over the past three months.
The biggest change was nothing physical. Rather, by taking this risk of going someplace new, I was challenged mentally with how to reconstruct a new life and self image apart from what I considered familiar in New York.
People will tell you over and over again about the “chill” vibe of California and why it’s something everyone should try. I was not convinced during my first weeks. There was traffic, it was too hot, there was Hollywood. But this was alll before I really started to settle in.
What I learned towards the end of this summer was that this notion of relaxation that happens much more often on the west coast is heavily afforded by the fact that people can maintain a better work-life balance.
In New York City, people trade their personal space for readily available opportunity. In Los Angeles, people value their personal space and seek out their opportunity.
When I look back to the times that I felt unnecessarily stressed out the past three years, so much of this stress was a direct impact from my environment. Surely as humans we were not meant to live stacked upon one another, and if we were, such a living situation would have been more conducive to a community style of living.
Conversely, in New York, people have almost no sense of community, neighborhoodness, or centralized identity other than their work/personal ambition. Why is this the only common factor we have amongst each other in a city of 8 million?
We live in sky scrapers and near the streets. People are always rushed, are noisy, and unkind. When I put my head to rest, how many times can I expect to hear the sweet song of silence? Likely never.
What I found from living on the West Coast was that even while living in a small space, I was intrigued by my environment to go out, explore, and most of all maintain my hobbies and health. There is a lack of pressure to drink and spend money because… well… we have other things to create connections through: the beach, hikes, vibrant cul-de-sacs of culture. I didn’t need Broadway shows, a cool night club, or anything other than good company to make a night (or day) an adventure.
For a creative person like myself, I easily created connections with other creative people who were interested in what I did for work but also what I did for pleasure. There was hardly anytime where I felt that I was in competition with those around me. Rather, people were genuinely interested in what I was doing and who I was trying to be; more so, they took the time to show me that.
What I'm trying to say is... Let go of the New York ego. We aren't better because we work more and spend more.
Or for those New Yorkers who pride themselves on their independence, why not get to know a stranger? You may be pleasantly surprised.
P.S. I'm excluding Brooklyn from this discussion (I hear good things).