A New Chapter, Disillusion of Moving to a Big City

I’m coming home
I’m coming home
Tell the World I’m coming home
Let the rain wash away all the pain of yesterday

– J. Cole

As I sit at my kitchen table, with no one around and hot chocolate in hand, the thunder, lightning, and rain outside are bizarrely causing chaos to the city of San Francisco. Thunderstorms and rain are not a common occurrence.

Traffic jams. Honking. People running for shelter. 

Today’s weather is unpredictable, reflecting my current situation in life exactly:

Things are out of my control, and what’s happening next is completely unpredictable and unavoidable.

It’s my seventh week of being in San Francisco. A few days ago, I bought a plane ticket that will take me back to Vancouver, BC. Same thing as last time... except this is a one way ticket to go back home.

Don’t get me wrong. It’s not a permanent thing and I’m not giving up. It’s just in the moment, the decision of when I can return to San Francisco is out of my hands and heading back to Vancouver is the necessary next step to getting work authorization.

As you may come to recognize, living like this is completely out of character for me despite the solo travels and decision to quit my job and move with nothing lined up. I like certainty… it makes me feel calm.

But right now, despite my greatest efforts to hide my emotions in the last few weeks, I’ve come to recognize and accept that there’s a storm in my head and heart and I can feel anxiety and listlessness kicking in.

One moment, I can be the happiest gal in the world. The next moment, I feel like nothing in the world can drag me out of apartment 802.

You see, I came down to San Francisco, as the starry-eyed, eager-to-learn young woman who moved to a bigger city filled with magic. 

I’ve spun this beautiful tale in my mind.

The kind, that has a happy ending and everything is just as I expected.

Top of the Mark SF

I expected San Francisco in all its glory, with amazing eats, beautiful scenic places to tour around, things to do, people who want the same as I do. San Francisco with the tall buildings and the iconic Golden Gate bridge that everyone from around the world would flock to the city to see. San Francisco’s tech scene. The warm weather and sunshine. Uber and Lyft. Amazon Prime. Groceries delivered to your door. And, maybe to experience a continuation of the feelings of serendipity.

And, it is all of that.

 

COMING TO TERMS WITH DISILLUSIONMENT

Many times, we forget that to truly love a place, person, or thing, we must love its entirety. Flaws and all. 

I’ve come to the conclusion that I am feeling this storm in my head because I am juggling between the version of  flawless San Francisco that I’ve conjured up and the real version of San Francisco.

Today, I want to share wth you that often we form this amazing illusion of what we chase after, and sometimes… it doesn’t turn out exactly the way you envisioned it to be… and mature Lesley says, “that’s okay.”

…and I repeat, THAT’S OKAY because I feel like it’s all part of the process of making a healthy, mature decision. It makes life hard, but to make a healthy decision that we stick with, we must weigh all of the pros and cons.

Because sometimes, just sometimes, a few caveats come along with the amazing things in life:

San Francisco is a city with amazing Michelin star restaurants and Napa close by, but affordability is an issue. Not to mention, I’ve been spoiled by the Vancouver food scene, and San Francisco Chinese and Japanese food cannot compare to what I’m used to back home in Vancouver.

Driving Along Bay Bridge in SF

Napa is in the backyard and there is a lot of nature to explore, but you need a car to cross the Bay Bridge and other highways to get there. Not a lot of people in San Francisco own a car, because driving in The City is crazy and not to mention, expensive.

There are tall buildings that tower above you and the skyline ends a little higher up than many major cities. There are many iconic places to visit as a tourist, but living in San Francisco is a different story. There are too many tourists and it gets too crowded. There’s also the things you don’t want to see… like human feces on the ground and smeared on the train station’s escalators and homeless people everywhere.

Then there’s the tech scene…. literally everyone is in tech. Be prepared for that. 

The people. Everyone moved here from elsewhere… whether it is from the Bay Area or from a completely different state or country. It’s exciting. You learn new perspectives all the time. But at the same time, I find it hard to give myself fully to friendships or relationships. It’s hard because who knows where everyone will end up in a year from now.

Finally last but not least, there’s sunshine and warm weather, 2 hours out of the day. Then it becomes extremely windy and foggy in parts of the city. Warm weather is available an hour down south though.

In the process, I’ve started to ask myself these questions:

  1. Does this mean, this is my final destination? Who knows, but I know I can see myself living here for the next 5 years.
  2. Does this disillusionment stop me from making SF my next home? To be honest, I’ve questioned it.

Tonight especially, as I sit here on the bar stool in my apartment, I’m starting to come to terms with the reality that I’m experiencing. I’m facing my own feelings and fears, and recognizing the city for all that it is without the rose colored glasses.

While there’s this internal battle in my head, the truth is, I still choose San Francisco. I know I love the city. Just like who you choose to remain in your life, you learn to accept their flaws because the benefit of having them in your life is so much better. I just know, this is a necessary step for my career growth.

Maybe I no longer love it with the same intensity and blind passion, but I am growing a genuine and steady love for its quirks and forming attachments to the familiarity of the people and places I am growing accustomed to.

Not to mention, the incredible adventures and new experiences that weigh heavily in my decision.

First Ever SF Giants Game
Mr. Holmes Bakery in SF
First Music Festival in SF, Outside Lands
Lesley visits Los Angeles

STARTING A NEW CHAPTER AND MY TAKEAWAYS

As I near the end of my blog post, I’d like to share with everyone… four of the more meaningful takeaways.

  1. I miss home and appreciate family more than ever before. A week ago, I reunited with cousins A & B in Los Angeles who I have not seen for the past 20 years and found out we click almost immediately. Then I learned to appreciate family more. I felt excited when my cousin N and his girlfriend E visited from Vancouver and look forward to the times when my mother or sister would call. And, I also recognize how I could open up with my aunt, uncle, and cousins in Los Angeles. I know I can depend on them without question.
  2. Learn to look for daily miracles and meaning…. because it makes life so much more interesting. Things like, bumping into a group of people from LinkedIn and then getting access to the greatest rooftop view in the city at their headquarters in downtown SF on random Friday night. Or, like meeting a key connection who helped you land an amazing opportunity. This is a key belief that will help you let go of ideas you are stuck on and look forward to interesting and unexpected experiences. Which brings me to the next point…
  3. Learn to let go. Let go of expectations and roll with what happens. Let go of the past so you can look towards the future. Every place and every person is different. Past friends, family, your old routine and lifestyle are no longer applicable. Is it easy? Nope, not at all. Releasing control is hard because we like to be the captain of our own ship called life. But, in life, some decisions rests upon others and we just need to trust that things will work out. Just rolling with what’s ahead, and to keep living your life gives us back the control we need.
  4. Chapters exist in life because when one door closes, another opens. You just keep on turning the pages. This realization just hit me as I look back at everything that has happened so far while I wrap up the things I am doing in San Francisco. I’m also checking into my flight that leaves tomorrow morning for Vancouver, BC.

You know, the next time I will be back in San Francisco, is truly when I would start a new chapter in life… when, for better or worse I am coming back to San Francisco with a realistic understanding of where I am living for the next few years of my life. When I am coming back to a reality and conditions (like the new sofa I bought with my room mates or new friends I’ve made) I’ve set for myself in a place I look forward to as home.

Until then, I’ll just roll with the waves of anxiety and uncertainty, because mature Lesley says, “this too shall pass.”

It’s now almost  1 a.m, and the rain has stopped and the thunderstorm has blown over. Like the weather in San Francisco, the storm in my head and heart has subsided too.

I’ve got to wake up in approximately 4 hours. Before I log off, I want to leave you with this final note:

Next time, home will be San Francisco, flaws and all.

Friends, have you experienced any disillusionment in your life? How have you dealt with it?


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