I looked at the calendar and realized I’m a week away from being halfway through my year-long apartment lease. So, I thought I’d publicly check in with myself about how it’s been like living here. Please call me out if I’m spewing nonsense lol. Full disclosure: Although my lease started in mid-August 2021, I’ve only spent 4 months living here (the rest of my time was spent back off/on at home in NY, especially around the holidays).
Everyone has a different comfort level when it comes to taking on new things (whether that’s new foods, new jobs, new places to live, new relationships, new identities, new experiences, etc!), which is totally okay. As you might already know, I was intimidated by this move but very glad to have actually done it. I don’t remember too much of how I was thinking in late September 2021 when I moved but I do know I tried to minimize my expectations and tried to truly keep an open mind.
The SF and Bay Area is a vast space and extremely spread out. Here, life is really about the journey and not the destination — a concept that I’ve come to appreciate more and more. I only just got my car shipped out here, so it’s definitely been interesting figuring out the lay of the land by foot/train and in friends’ cozy cars.
San Francisco itself is such a large city and it actually takes a decent amount of time to get from end to end (whether by car, train, bus, or foot). Sometimes it can take 30–40 minutes to drive from the piers/east side to the west/Presidio side, which is surprising but goes to show that this is not a small city. And when it comes to things to do outside of the city, Napa and Sonoma are at least a 1-hour drive (or 1-hour ferry coupled with some uber rides) away, Half Moon Bay is a 40-min drive out, Muir Woods is a 40-min drive up, nicer beaches are ~1-hour away, and Big Sur is 2.5 hours down. For this reason, I mentally characterize SF as a city defined by the things around it, and less so by its own features. This could definitely be because I’m not too familiar with the actual fabric of the culture — arts, music, festivals, fairs, etc. of SF just yet.
Lately, I feel like my time is split — weekdays in the South Bay for work purposes and weekends spent frolicking in various parts of SF. In fact, I’m still trying to determine how I view and feel about SF as a city. I was talking to some of my friends about this earlier in the week but SF is unlike any other city I’ve been to before in the sense I’ve struggled to form impressions of it. I wonder if that’s my brain safeguarding some underlying, ruminating thoughts but in general, I am struggling to describe SF beyond its stereotypes — chill, laid-back city for all things tech-dominated, good food, sunsets, and park-steeped hilly nature.
I feel like at our age, it’s easy to make a decision and think that “okay, I guess I’ve decided this is how things are and this is how they’re going to be forever” but it's important to remind myself that most decisions don’t have permanent implications and it’s always possible to change your mind to fix what’s not working well.
It takes time to adjust to a new city or a new place in general. For me personally, I’ve learned 3–6 months is how long I would need in a new environment to gain a true sense of comfort. And I’m sure you know this, but, nobody said it would be easy and sometimes it’s not!
I think my attitudes significantly improved over the past couple of months, for many reasons. The level of support from my friends, family, and colleagues just increased to a deeper level — it’s wonderful to have friends in your life you can visit new places with/consult for any and all things/share funny stories with/facetime at any pretty much any hour of the day, family to lovingly ship you a car cross-country/complain daily to about life’s many inconveniences/get advice on all things adulting 101, and colleagues who will listen to your rants/tell you where to get the best coffee/give you food and ice cream recommendations/help you navigate confusing software for printing documents. Who knew it could take 3 hours to figure out how to print a single stupid sheet of paper at such a large technology company lol.
And lastly, it’s not. all. about. me! lol. I think moving far away has (hopefully) taught me how to be a better friend in certain regards. I’m trying to be more intentional about the people I reach out to and share parts of my life with (and vice versa). Absence for sure makes the heart grow fonder. Whether it’s to share content of cute dogs/cats I come across or send memes or to exchange book recommendations or simply catch up about weekend plans or hear the latest tea regarding the daily grind at work/coworker stories or to ponder the deeper questions/late-night dilemmas of a mid-twenties gen Z life, I’m incredibly fortunate to have lovely, supportive friends and relationships. This is where I want to continue investing my time and energy.
It’s pretty damn cool to train your brain to welcome and get used to the idea of a life (and lifestyle) totally different from one you already pictured for yourself. Moving here has increased my appreciation for nature and the outdoors by at least 10x. Not having a car till yesterday night has gotten me to try optimizing my time in transit — such as by reading books while on the bus or train, for example. I want to learn how to enjoy (the seemingly small parts of) life more, which is a skill best applied in places where people consciously create the mental and physical space to do so. From the people and friends I’ve been lucky to meet here, I can get the sense that people here know how to sincerely enjoy their lives.
I’m healthily challenged by the near-term future — in terms of decisions to make regarding work and in life. In many senses, the pandemic has fundamentally changed the way companies behave and businesses operate in the U.S. Along that vein, I was recently offered the opportunity to move to NYC(!!) for work post-August 2022 and while it’s literally everything I wanted 2 years ago being handed to me, it’s also something for my brain to noodle on since I am definitely committed to giving it a proper shot experiencing a new way of life. Aka I’m not the sort of person who likes to do things half-heartedly.
I’ve tried to mentally file away that decision in my brain until late spring but it’s something that I’m occasionally nudged to think about whether in discussion with friends or colleagues. So long story short — I’m not sure how long I’ll be living here but I do know that I want to enjoy the time I spend here to the best of my ability. :)
That’s all for now. Thanks for reading!