"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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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