My move to California
I’ve wanted to share my story about my move to California for quite a while, but I haven’t been able to find the right words to do it justice. I also haven’t wanted to ruffle any feathers or give anyone reason to worry about me. But then a Monday night viewing of The Bachelor and a generous glass of wine happened... The episode had ended and I was still too wired to think about heading up to bed, so I pulled out my laptop and just started writing. (Don’t worry, I’ve edited this since that night!)
This is a pretty raw telling of my move from Boston to Orange County and how I’ve acclimated since. Enjoy!
As a lot of you might already know I moved to California right after I graduated from college (a little less than two year ago at this point). I fell in love with an oh-so-amazing boy at school and there was never really a question about whether or not we’d move in together after graduation. He’s from Southern California and let’s just say Boston wasn’t part of his 5 year post-grad plan. And, hey, he didn’t have to pull my arm in order to convince me to move to California with him. Sure, I was going to miss my friends and family like crazy, but moving presented two perks:
I wouldn’t have to learn how to make a long distance relationship work
I’d be forced to get out of my comfort zone and adult in ways I wouldn’t have had to if I stayed at home
So, I packed up my cute little white VW Jetta in June of 2017. My spirits and expectations were as high as can be. I was off to the land of temperate weather, influencers and celebrities, and a slower pace of life (compared to that of the East Coast hustle and bustle).
My dad and brother flew out to LAX with me while my car was on the transport truck. Bless their souls for coming out with me. I’m convinced having familiar faces normalized the first few days in California. Sure, I noticed how out of place I looked in my J. Crew vest and Tory Burch flats, but I didn’t even think to dwell on it.
Until they left.
Reuniting with Austin after a month of being apart felt great, but it did nothing to mask how out of place I felt. My preppy sense of style and average makeup skills all of a sudden weren’t nearly good enough. It was like I was dropped on some alien planet trying to figure out how to fit in.
It was our second or third night together and things still felt weird. We went to In-N-Out to get burgers and fries because I guess it’s supposedly God’s gift to the West Coast and it’s where you go when you want late night fast food. (Still to this day I don’t get the appeal - the fries are never cooked enough, and the burgers are just meh.) It was around 10:30pm and the place was absolutely packed. I was in my favorite Kale sweatshirt and leggings with no makeup on and my hair was probably in a messy bun. I very vividly remember standing in line when a group of four girls got in line behind us.
Each girl was wearing a variation of the same Kardashian-esque outfit: oversized muted sweatshirt with black spandex bike shorts and sneakers. Three of the four has super long sleek blonde hair and the fourth was brunette with the most perfect messy bun. All had mile-long lashes (I would eventually come to learn about the existence of lash extensions) and acrylic nails. They each oozed cool-girl.
In that moment, clinging to Austin for comfort and security, I don’t know if I’ve ever felt so frumpy and uncool.
The weeks and month that followed were filled with similar realizations. I’d never been more hyper-aware of my superficial inadequacies until that summer. My entire wardrobe felt wrong and I no longer felt comfortable going out without a full face of makeup. I didn’t feel skinny enough and I definitely didn’t have enough confidence to convince anyone otherwise.
Now, let me not be misleading - I’ve always been able to pick myself apart physically. My hair is brittle and frizzes at the smallest ounce of humidity. My legs, arms, and mid-section are all pretty doughy - fitness and nutrition have always been weaknesses of mine. And my double chin always managers to make itself known at all the wrong times. I’ll tell you, I’ve struggled with body image since high school. I used to look in the mirror and not like what I saw. Sure, that’s sad, but that was the extent of it.
Settling in Orange County brought about a host of other insecurities. I became hyper-aware of my lack of lash extensions, acrylic nails, hair extensions, edgy sense of style, contoured cheeks, perky boobs, pouty, plump lips, and defined jawline. It also became so much easier to look in the mirror and see possibilities - what fillers, extensions, and treatments could make those insecurities go away? (Sorry Mom.)
Is there anything wrong with making changes for the sake of helping yourself feel better? No, that’s not at all what I’m saying! But I know myself and I don’t want to go down that rabbit hole, because I know I would be doing those things to compensate for bigger insecurities. (Thank God for self awareness!!) Regardless, I wasn’t expecting such an abrasive introduction to the “best coast.”
Another huge disappointment: people out here aren’t nearly as nice as I imaged. I’d call myself a pretty friendly person; I strike up conversations with people at restaurants and stores, compliment strangers, and ask people how they’re doing simply because I’m genuinely curious. Here, though, I noticed a lot of people only give you the time of day if they think you can do something for them. People have actually looked at me funny when I’ve asked how they’re doing. (Like, what?! I wish I was kidding…) Don’t get me wrong, this isn’t necessarily the end of the world, but it’s definitely disenchanting.
Okay, so I’ve dished two pretty big jabs at California, but I swear it isn’t all bad! In fact, if given the opportunity to move back to Boston, I don’t think I would go. California has allowed me space to spread my wings and experience brand new opportunities: my first job, a big girl apartment with bills and responsibilities, and a blank canvas on which I can create my grown up reality. It’s also allowed me space to grow as a person. My sense of self has grown stronger. Despite an ecosystem that originally felt beyond foreign to me, I have remained myself - quirky, introverted, and far from fashionable and glamorous.
What I’m most proud of? I’ve taken the plunge into brand building. Launching and growing The Spritz Project is an undertaking I would have literally NEVER pursued if I stayed in my bubble that was home in Boston. If I stayed, I’m confident I would have been too afraid to take the time to build a brand. I would have been too nervous that it would have been seen as selfish, not leaving enough time for family and friends. But being out here has helped me realize that I can juggle my own hopes and dreams while still being a daughter, sister, niece, and friend.
If you take nothing else away from this post, I hope you leave here understanding that YOU have the final say when it comes to how you feel, what you do, and who you are. Yes, California has challenged me in so many different ways, but at the end of the day, I’ve embraced what I’ve wanted and have left what I don’t. And I’ll continue to work towards my greater purpose and deepest sense of self with tenacity, conviction, and grace.
Until next time,
Dang, that was a doozy! Thanks for reading and if you have unkind things to say, please keep them to yourself! :)