Lessons Learned From Growing Up in the Bay Area

growing up in the bay area

"You're from the Bay?! Me too!" my Lyft driver exclaimed, talking to me as if we were some type of unicorn.

Sitting in my Lyft line and scrolling through my Instagram feed, my Lyft driver jokingly continued on, "Everyone that hops in this car always says they moved here from SoCal and has been here for 6 months." Ironically, the passenger assigned to join our Lyft line was a SoCal man equipped with a beard and you guessed it...moved to the city exactly 6 months ago. Sitting in the back seat, our driver made eye contact with me through the rear view mirror, we gave each other a quick smirk, and casually carried on with our ride. 

According to the U.S. Census, between 2010 and 2014, the population of San Francisco grew by 47,274 people. That number continues to rise. With a population so dense,  finding a fellow Bay Area native in this city is rarer than most people think. The population growth says wonders about the type of city San Francisco is. All hipster jokes aside, I'm so proud to be from a place that known to steal hearts. Some people visit for a short few days, some move here for months or years at a time. Even after the first year, the city will mold you into a new person. Here's a few of the life lessons I've learned from living in the Bay all my life.

growing up in the bay area

Growing up in the SF Bay Area, you'll learn...

1. That in the bay, we dance a lil different

I know, a hyphy movement reference ...really? What did you expect? I'm a good girl with a Bay playlist. It's practically in my blood.

Real talk, living in a region like the Bay Area will affect your taste in food and fun! Our communities bring inspiration from many cultures and ethnic backgrounds, making for quite the lineup of restaurants, classes, and fun activities. From fusion food experiences like Off the Grid, to live shows in just about every genre of music, there are so many opportunities to find your place. Don't limit yourself. The world is your oyster! This is the place to broaden your horizons.

growing up in the bay area

2. To remain optimistic

In the country's top cities with the most Ethno-Racial and Linguistic Diversity, Bay Area cities dominate half of that list. That doesn't even include San Francisco, Oakland, San Mateo, Sunnyvale or Vallejo, which all follow closely behind in the top 20. Melting pot? We're like the crockpot of California. Throw in a bunch of different stuff and let them stew together. It ends up good and you get a little of everything. 

In the SF Bay Area, you see struggle and success almost side-by-side on a daily basis. Being in the Bay reminds you that there really is no right or wrong way to do things. Instead of wasting energy trying to keep track of those who have it better or worse...just focus on being authentic. You are one-of-a-kind, not just one-in-a-million. What may be considered a traditional path for some, may not be for you. Focus on making YOUR current situation work. So keep going. Give 110% with what you're working with. That is what makes us resilient.

growing up in the bay area

3. To always come prepared

The grey skies tease us by morning and disappear by night. Some days, vice versa. The day you decide to wear shorts, it'll probably start to pour rain. Even if you check the weather forecast, it doesn't always account for all the microclimates around here. Don't question this....just always come prepared with multiple layers.

Beyond choosing a weather friendly outfit, it's a good reminder that like the weather, what's expected in life isn't always how it plays out. Things happen, and you just have to roll with the punches. The Bay taught me that like that sweater you are hesitant to bring, it's better to be safe and come prepared with an extra layer of tough skin. Don't take things too personal. Take any challenge head on, like the champ you are.

bay area blog food and style

4. How to work with just about anyone

The best employees are those that know how to work with every type of personality. What better place to figure this out than the Bay? Sure, at first it will feel like someone throwing you in the shark tank. It's intimidating (and exhausting) trying to read so many different kinds of people in a day. Some days, things you'll say may come off way more offensive than you intended to be. Some days, you'll connect with someone you had no idea you'd be in-cahoots with. The more you do, the more you'll learn the art of interacting harmoniously.  You'll know both: what you need to do to hold a good team together and what brings a tough team closer together. 

To save you the years of first hand trial and error...remember that others' reactions are a reflection of themselves, not you. Pick your battles wisely, and always try to meet others halfway. 

san francisco views bay area food style blog

5. Most importantly, to eat a slice of humble pie

Within the nine counties of the Bay Area, each city holds many different stories and lifestyles in them. Even in the neighborhoods of San Francisco, you can visually see the subcultures change just by turning a corner. San Francisco born, and Antioch raised, that culture shock hit me like a ton of bricks my first year moving back to the city. I realized that growing up an East Bay girl did not mean I understood the San Francisco Bay Area lifestyle in it's entirety.

You'll realize that the morals and beliefs you have, may not be the same for the person next to you...and that's okay! To thrive here, you better quickly let go of any "big fish in a little pond" mentality. Keep your hometown roots, but always remain open to learn something new. Go with the flow. To make good friends and connect to quality people here, you need to strip yourself down to your true core. Make friends that match your intentions, not your style. That realization alone will help you to understand that everyone is entitled to their own thoughts, beliefs and lifestyles...some similar, some way different than your own. Soon enough, you'll be surrounded by people...all colorful, both inside and out.


Jacket: Zara | Boot: Aldo | Dress: Thrifted

Photography by Zoe Larkin


Why Galentine's Day is Important


...that makes you wait forever, and as soon as you walk away, he texts you asking you to come back." We died laughing. Untentionally all dressed in dark shades with heels and boots, we walked from El Techo rooftop bar to Limon Rotisserie about two blocks away. 

The Galentine's Day game plan was dinner at El Techo, but after almost an hour and a half waiting for a text that read "your table is ready", we decided to move on to the next restaurant. A wait for a roof top view didn't seem as important as finally sitting down to eat, so like any fboy in our lives, we said on to the next. Luckily, we didn't come short of good food, good company or good conversation. This was our 2nd annual Galentine's Day celebration and we can count on this to be an annual thing.

Reasons to Celebrate

If you aren't already convinced, here's a few of our favorite reasons to start that group chat already, and start penciling it in annually:

What’s Galentine’s Day? Oh, it’s only the best day of the year. Every February 13th, Leslie Knope and her lady friends leave their husbands and their boyfriends at home and just kick it breakfast style. Ladies celebrating ladies. It’s like Lilith Fair, minus the angst. Plus, frittatas!
— Leslie Knope, Parks and Recreation


Galentine's Day is a holiday made popular through an episode of Parks and Recreation and preached by main character, Leslie Knope (my spirit animal). It's no surprise that it became something people really celebrated! You can search it on Pinterest; brunch party inspiration and cute free printables pop up immediately. With as much girl hate that goes on in this world, it's about time we found a way to celebrate our female friendships. If significant others get one hallmark day in the year to shower you with love, so should your females. So reason #1 is that simple: get together because it's ladies celebrating ladies.

Remember, like Valentine's Day, your love and appreciation for them should not only be celebrated once a year. Find ways throughout the year to show appreciation for your female friendships. Even texts, written notes or small personal gestures and favors go a long way. 

2. #Nofilter talk

There's just some things you can't talk about around guys, because bluntly, they don't understand. So if you want to whine with wine, bitch about body parts or just have a vent session about any topic that just doesn't interest the males in your life, now's the time. Take it and run with it cause your girl gang is all ears.


Galentine's Day is a perfect time to try something new! Do something out of the ordinary. This makes for both: great memories and photos. Last year, we saw 50 Shades of Grey when it was released and drank fishbowl cocktails until we couldn't anymore. This year we went to modern Peruvian restaurant, Limon Rotissierie for a family style dinner.

A few quick ideas for your next Galentine's Day

  • take a class | Paint Nite, cooking, dance, terrarium making, etc.

  • get outside | Go on a hike or have a picnic in the park

  • over food | Host a brunch party, straight Parks and Recreation style: girl talk over waffles. Or easily, try a new restaurant you've never been to before. You can never go wrong with this, especially if it's brunch, or anything else that involves wine or mimosas.

#TBT Galentine's Dinner 2015 with the fishbowl cocktails

#TBT Galentine's Dinner 2015 with the fishbowl cocktails


In between the bites and sips, our girl gang couldn't stop laughing about everything from our last Galentine's Day memories to recalling other shenanigans that happened the other calendar months in between. Always thinking back on your past times together will make you realize how far you've come in your friendship, and will motivate you to have more fun times together in the future. 

5. empowering your girl gang

On our way to Limon, someone on the street called us a "girl gang". Damn right. But the only violence these ladies are doing is killing it in their careers. It's nice to surround yourself with others that empower you. Individually, our work ethic is on point, we pursue our passions and we keep ourselves put together. As a whole, we're supportive of one another's successes, as every group of gal pals should be, even if we don't get to see each other regularly. 

Celebrate the successes each of you experience, big and small. If someone adopted a puppy, or finished a home improvement project...cheers to that. If someone got a raise, promotion or new job...cheers to that. Graduated?...cheers to that! Everyone has got their own goals and there is always something to celebrate. It's all about having supportive people in your life that are there for you, every peak and valley of life. That means you also GENUINELY being happy for them in return and always supporting them in all their endeavors. Being a good friend is not much of a secret, but that's how you keep the good ones close. 

source: buzzfeed

source: buzzfeed

So in short: genuinely love your gal pals, have fun with them and support one another along the way. Make time to show them your love and appreciation, especially when this holiday rolls around in February.

Find Your Roots at the Mission Murals

A little wobbly after a few mimosas, brunch and solid heart-to-heart, we walked down Valencia Street aimlessly. That's when the Clarion Alley caught my eye: the entire thing curated with beautiful murals. I've passed it once of twice before, but it was the first time we took a closer look.


Of course, I easily gravitated toward the desert-inspired piece as all things inspired by the outdoors. Anjuli is both filipina and indian, so this was an ode to her roots, and little did I know I'd find my own too.

We peered back at the opposite wall, and that's when we found this curated right next to the desert-inspired mural. 

The word "bahay" (meaning home in tagalog) caught my attention, and I took a photo with it knowing it had to do with my culture. It wasn't until I got home, when I deeply interpreted what the mural reflected.

Filipino History in San Francisco and the Mural

In the SOMA district, the International hotel was a place where filipino immigrants settled in San Francisco during the 1920's. Most of which, were bachelors and this included my grandfather, Santos "Pete" De Pedro. It was located in a community of affordable housing units called Manilatown. In the 1970's, the International Hotel was one of the last buildings to be demolished in the area due to Urban Renewal and bringing BART into the city as white collar jobs made their way into the Financial District. The filipino community did not go down without a fight, but the building did get demolished. (read the history here) 

It is a story of resilience, and reflects a comparable struggle of gentrification we still feel today. I give you context not as a history lesson, but to bring light to how we can learn from this. How many different communities have left their footprints in the roots of the ever-changing city, even if their buildings no longer stand? We need to learn from these stories to help us know how to survive and overcome the struggles we may face.

San Francisco is a city of change; constantly growing and redeveloping. Week to week, we see the city unfold into something new. It was a reminder that we are not the first generation or community to feel uprooted from our homes here in the San Francisco. We build from what we know, and what we are taught from the stories that come before us.


Although you may not be looking for it, this city always has something to teach you. When you open yourself to explore every turn of the city, every nook, you'll be surprised what you can discover. You may learn a little more about yourself, and your roots in the most unexpected places.